Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quick Qs and As with Nina de Gramont


Nina de Gramont is the author of a fabulous, thought provoking YA book titled Every Little Thing in the World. which was released today! Today, I have Nina here answering some questions, so without a further ado:

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What are the top three reasons why teens should pick up Every Little Thing in the World come March twenty-third?

 
Well, I hope it’s readable and absorbing, and that it takes you to another place. Secondly, as I was writing the book, each of these characters became my friend; I hope readers will feel the same way. And lastly, in so many TV shows, books, and movies about teen pregnancy, the drama takes place after the decision to have the baby. Sydney’s story is about the process of deciding what to do – her thoughts, her feelings, her fears and worries as she struggles to make the biggest decision of her life. I hope that makes the novel unique.

Describe your main character Sydney in one sentence. Also, if you could offer her any advice, what would you say?

Sydney is smart, sensitive, and prone to over-thinking – she’s not perfect, but in a way it’s her flaws, and learning to face them, that make her special. If I could offer her advice, I would tell her to trust herself, not second guess so much. I would remind her that she doesn’t belong to her friends, or her parents. She belongs to herself, and has every right to do what she thinks is best.

What made you choose to address teen pregnancy in Every Little Thing in the World?

It wasn’t my original plan! Initially the book was about the girls and Mick, and that campfire confession. At the time I was teaching Freshman Composition at the university here. I assigned a wonderful short story by T.C. Boyle called “The Love of my Life” (careful readers will see a reference to that title in the novel), which is about an unintended pregnancy. The story sparked so much discussion, and struck such a personal chord with my students, most of whom were about eighteen. That helped give me the idea to have Sydney be pregnant when she left for Canada. I think it adds a lot of dimension to the novel, and a lot of tension – that ticking clock!

After finishing Every Little Thing in the World a lot was swirling around in my head. And one of those was a question; a question about whether or not you knew what was going to happen to Sydney and the baby before you began writing or did the ending evolve over time?

My process was a lot like Sydney’s. I would think I had made a decision, and then I would change my mind. It really brought home for me how impossibly difficult this situation is. Every possible choice is so final and life-changing in its own way. I had such a hard time choosing for Sydney, and she’s a fictional character. Any girl who goes through this in real life has my admiration. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of conviction, no matter how you choose to handle it.

What made you choose to have the Every Little Thing in the World mostly take place at a wilderness camp in Canada?

I went to a wilderness camp in Canada when I was a teenager. It was a remarkable and vivid experience, with so much sensory detail, that it’s stayed in my mind quite clearly for many years. I wanted my novel to take place there, and when I decided that Sydney would be pregnant it seemed perfect to have her in a place where it was impossible to take immediate action.

Did Every Little Thing in the World change in any big ways from first draft to final product?

This leads nicely into your next question. My original title was The Secret Inside. I meant it to refer to the obvious secret, Sydney’s pregnancy, as well the various secrets all the characters kept about themselves. But I agree with everyone at Atheneum who thought it sounded like a horror movie title.

How did the title Every Little Thing in the World come to be?

My editor, Caitlyn Dlouhy, came up with it. It’s taken from something Natalia says to Sydney on the plane ride home from Canada.

Is there a specific message you hope readers of Every Little Thing in the World take from it?

I don’t want it to be TOO much of a message book, because I hope Sydney’s story stands on its own purely as a reading experience. But I did love a line in the review you wrote, “one girl's choice between what's right and wrong when it comes to her pregnancy and her.” At the beginning of the book, Sydney is a fairly passive character. On the trip to Canada she realizes that passivity is its own kind of action, and its own kind of choice. I like the strength she gains, and the realization that she has control of her life. And I certainly don’t imagine her ever blowing off birth control again, which is a pretty good message in itself!

If you could change anything about your road to publication for Every Little Thing in the World would you? If so, what would aspect would you change?

One of the editors who originally wanted to acquire the book suggested we cut the epilogue. At the time I was adamantly opposed to this, but recently I looked at the book and thought that the last line of chapter sixteen would have been a nice ending. Still, I do like knowing what Syd’s life is like back in the States, so I guess I’m still on the fence about that.

What were you like in high school? Were you similar to Sydney or the polar opposite of her?

One big difference between Sydney and me? I can’t dive! How I would love to, though, I really envy her that grace. My brother tried to teach me to swan dive for three consecutive summers and I just never got it.

I went to three different high schools, and had an extremely different experience at each one. Sydney probably most represents what I was like at my first high school, the one in the town where I grew up. I was definitely a follower, and definitely in the shadow of more glamorous friends.

Since your release date is fast approaching, do you have any big plans of how you’re going to celebrate that day?

I hadn’t thought about celebrating, what a great idea. I’ll probably send my editor some chocolates. And I’ll probably watch the Amazon numbers for a while. And now that you mention it a glass of Prosecco might be in order :-).

What’s your typical day like?

I have a six year old, so I wake up early to make her breakfast, pack her lunch, and get her ready for school. My husband usually drives her to school, and I take our dog (a yellow lab named Missy) for a long walk. I teach Creative Writing at the university here, so if I have class I’ll go over that material and then head into school. If I don’t have class, I’ll write and then clean up the house. I pick up my daughter at 2:30 and spend the rest of the day with her, and then we have family dinner. After she goes to bed, an occasional glass of wine plus a book and/or TV. Very exciting stuff!

What are three facts about yourself that most people would be surprised to know?

I don’t know if anything about me is that surprising! I’m very short, about 5’1, but most people could probably guess that because my point of view characters tend to be petite (I have this theory that whatever writers change about their narrators, they almost always write their own height). I have a weakness for certain reality TV, especially Survivor, but that could also be guessed pretty easily (does it count as surprising that I love Boston Rob? Or am I just realizing now that Mick might have a teeny bit of Boston Rob in him?) Here’s something that recently surprised a friend: my first interest was theater, I began college as a Performing Arts major (I even lived on the Performing Arts wing of my dorm), and I studied theater in London the summer I was nineteen. My friend was surprised because I’m a very shy person who dislikes a lot of attention. In the end I decided that while I loved the process of plays – the rehearsals and the camaraderie – the anxiety of performances was just too much for me.

What’s up you next for you book-wise?

I have another YA novel in the works, which will also come out with Atheneum. It’s a love story that takes place in Colorado. I would tell you the title, but it’s certain to change!

Ooh, I can't wait to read it! Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to say that writing for teenagers is already so much fun, and the book hasn’t even come out yet! One reason for this is the bloggers. I am so impressed by all of you, everything that you’ve accomplished at such a young age. On Goodreads and on your blogs, I can see you just devouring one book after another at lightning speed. How wonderful to be so passionate and focused and involved. I really can barely put it into words, it’s just extraordinary, and it’s been a joy to discover. Reading all your blogs makes me feel great about the future of the world. Just imagine what all these smart, educated, and compassionate young women will accomplish!

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Thanks so much, Nina! It was fun finding out more about you and your book! :)

Now what are you waiting for, go get your own copy of Every Little Thing in The World today! I promise you that it's a fantastic book, no doubt about it!

Also, Nina will be doing a live chat on Simon and Schuster's Pulse It board TODAY at 7:00 pm. So be sure to head over if you have any questions for her.

3 comments:

  1. I've never read a teen pregnancy book before!! Interesting, concept. Great interview!!

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  2. I always love learning more about authors and their process. Great questions!

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  3. Well, at this point I'm judging the book by the title (love it), cover (PERFECT), synopsis (sounds so wonderful and heartfelt, but in a non-cheesy way), and interview (full of fun little insights) -- and I'm definitely adding it to my TBR pile!

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