Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Alyson Noel - Award-Winning Author of “Art Geek & Prom Queen” And Other Books For Both Adults And Young Adults.

Welcome to “Up Close & Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing her views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.

Today’s interview is with Alyson Noel. Her novel, Art Geeks & Prom Queens won the New York Public Library Book of Winter 2006 award, and was also included in their prestigious Books for the Teenage 2006 catalog. It has been nominated for the American Library Association's Teens Top 10 Award. Her recent novel Kiss & Blog, is now available at your local bookstores and online.

EI: What were you like as a teenager? Please tell your readers more about Alyson Noël -- the woman behind the author?

Alyson Noel: By my senior year of high school I was a lot like my character Alex, in Faking 19—sort of lost, alienated, and unsure of my future. And also like Alex, I loved to read and write, so for my AP English class I would often turn in short stories I had written instead of the required essays. Luckily, I had an understanding teacher!

EI: Do you enjoy writing? What is it about this art form that enchants you the most? Why have you chosen to write in the genre in which you write?

Alyson Noel: I love writing. I love the feeling of getting so lost in creating a story that hours slip by without notice. As for why I chose my genre—I’m not really sure since I pretty much hated high school! Though maybe in some strange way, writing about it allows me to sort of “correct” that.

EI: In what ways does your writing benefit from your training as a former flight attendant? Do you feel that the skills you possess inform the way you approach writing a novel and, if so, how?

Alyson Noel: Being a flight attendant taught me the importance of discipline, organization, and to always be on time since the plane doesn’t wait if you’re ten minutes late! Not to mention how it’s a lot easier to live out of a suitcase if you’re well packed and know where everything is. Those skills definitely transfer to my writing as I try to approach it like a job, and I’m pretty good about beating my deadlines.

EI: Please explain to your fans about your previous life? Do you think that job was nightmare?

Alyson Noel: On some days it was a complete nightmare! But for the most part it was a pretty equal mix of good and bad. But getting to meet so many amazing people and travel the world for free, made the pantyhose, peanuts, and polyester dress worth it!

EI: Could you describe your path that lead you to publication--any stumble along the way? Is there anything about you that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?

Alyson Noel: I’d probably do everything different, since I had no idea what I was doing when I set out on my journey! It was pretty much just me, my manuscript, and a brand new copy of Writer’s Market. Though in retrospect it was probably better that I didn’t know there were rules, otherwise I might’ve tried to follow them and it could’ve taken even that much longer! So in short—I finished my book, sent it everywhere, and then sat back and waited for the offers to come in. When I received a string of very encouraging rejection letters instead, I enrolled in an online class, where I was eventually led to my then agent, who asked for a revision, and then sold my revised manuscript several months later in a two-book deal to St. Martin’s Press.

EI: You have created a world where teens life & adults does move forward sequentially but instead moves in a more random and fluid way. How did you keep your characters and storyline funny, complicated and straight?

Alyson Noel: Um, I don’t know. Really, I just try to tell the story in the best way I can, and even when I’m trying to be serious, the funny somehow manages to sneak in there!

EI: When did you get the first inkling that your book might become wildly popular? Can you describe your feelings upon realizing this?

Alyson Noel: I get excited just seeing my books on shelves—number five was just released and yet it still feels completely surreal to me. And getting letters from readers is The Best!

EI: ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ was your debut adult novel. It’s laugh-out-loud funny. Did you ever intend the book to be connected to these specific genres, or did it just evolve?

Alyson Noel: I was only partly aware of genre when I wrote it. I mean, I knew it would be a woman’s journey and have a happy ending, but really, I was just trying to write a story about a flight attendant that would show that world for what it really is—crazy, unpredictable, exciting, somewhat surreal, and full of contradictions!

EI: Do you always know a story's ending when you begin writing?

Alyson Noel: I know it’s going to be an “up” ending, though that doesn’t always translate to “getting the guy.” Sometimes it just means the characters complete the journey and come away from it stronger and better than before. But the actual events are always subject to change, and they often surprise me.

EI: Let’s shift gears... tell us about your book ‘Kiss and Blog ’ how did you come up with the title and idea? Can you give us a hint what it’s all about? And what inspired you about the book? And what about writing for teens appealed to you?

Alyson Noel: Kiss & Blog is about two friends, Winter and Sloane, who make a vow to be popular but only Sloane makes it. So Winter, angered by her best-friend’s defection, gets revenge by revealing all of her secrets in an anonymous blog. . .

The idea was born from that false feeling of anonymity, that sort of disconnect you can get when you’re alone in your room, venting on your keyboard, and how easy it is to forget how your words not only have permanence, but that they affect others. Also, I wanted to show how revenge is never worth it, that it’s so much better just to move on and build a better life, but I wanted to show that in a modern, hopefully entertaining way!

EI: How much of ‘Winter and her best friend Sloane’s ’ life is planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go next with any of your characters?

Alyson Noel: I knew their point of conflict when I started writing it as well as a general idea of where it would end up and how it might get there, but the smaller details and events just sort of evolved based on their personalities and personal histories which I made a rough draft of before I got started. I pretty much approach all my books in the same way.

EI: What challenges or obstacle did you encounter while writing and creating Winter How did you overcome these challenges?

Alyson Noel: Winter does some not so nice things, though she manages to justify them because she’s been hurt. Sometimes it’s hard to make my characters go too far, to be really mean, and make big mistakes, though it’s important that I do because the lesson is always sweeter in the end.

EI: The premise for "Kiss & Blog" is fascinating! How did you arrive at it? And how did you then transform it into a novel? Did you outline the plot, do character sketches, etc.?

Alyson Noel: I always start with an outline, hitting the major points on the journey, and a rough character sketch of their backgrounds, likes, dislikes, etc. But the outline itself is pretty vague, because the actual events are always shaped by the characters.

EI: What can fans look forward from you in the coming months?

Alyson Noel: Saving Zoë is coming out in September 2007, and it’s the story of a girl named Echo, who’s reeling from the aftermath of the brutal murder of her sister Zoë. Her parents are numb, her friends are moving on, and she feels she’ll never be able to live up to her sister’s memory. And then Zoë’s former boyfriend Marc shows up with her diary. At first Echo’s not interested, doubting there’s anything in there she doesn’t already know. But once she starts reading, she becomes so immersed in her sister’s secret world their lives begin to blur . . .

EI: Would you like to close the interview by telling your readers any writing tips for the young aspiring writers?

Alyson Noel: I think it’s important to read- a lot, all the books you can! And then when you do sit down to write, to just allow yourself to fill up the page without trying to be perfect—just turn off your inner critic and let the words flow because you can always go back and change it. Nobody writes a pretty rough draft, it’s only the first step!

EI: Thanks once again and good luck with your next book

Alyson Noel: Thanks for the interview- it was fun!

To learn more about Alyson Noel, please visit her at:

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