Wednesday, January 7, 2009

FANTASTIC (I'm not kidding) interview with YA author Janette Rallison

I adore the genre of romantic comedy and feel honored that the lovely Janette Rallison (author of HOW TO TAKE THE EX OUT OF EX-BOYFRIEND, REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS, and IT'S A MALL WORLD AFTER ALL) agreed to drop by and talk about her new book due out in March, JUST ONE WISH. I know you'll enjoy her take on things as much as I did.

1. Tell us (in three sentences or less) what JUST ONE WISH is about.

When Annika's six-year-old brother (and cancer patient) wishes that Teen
Robin Hood would come to his house to teach him how to shoot arrows, Annika
decides to make his wish come true. This involves driving to Hollywood,
sneaking on to the set of Teen Robin Hood, and trying to convince the very
famous, busy, and handsome TV star that he needs to drive back to Nevada
with her.

2. What led you to write this story?

The short answer to this question is that my editor called me the day after
the Newberys were announced and told me to write a book that would make
people cry. (This is why you should never talk to your editor right after the
Newberys.) I tried to explain to him that I write romantic comedies, and
therefore I'm not supposed to make people cry, but he was insistent.

So I spent some time thinking about the hard issues in life and what message
I could give readers that was different from what was already out there.
I've read a lot of books over the years where characters die (and I'm not
saying that Jeremy dies in this book-you'll have to read it to see how it
ends) and most of these books were frustrating to me.

Seriously, I once read a book to my pre-school daughter about Mr. Hooper
dying on the Sesame Street series. Big Bird asked when he would see Mr.
Hooper again and the answer was, "Never. When someone dies, that means they
never come back."

Like that's not going to give kids nightmares. Another popular theme in
literature is that the character "lives on in us." They will never really
be gone as long as we keep their memory alive.

My mother died when I was six years old and I find that sentiment of very
little comfort because I hardly remember anything about my mother. I don't
want her to live on in me. I want to see her again someday.

So in a lot of ways this book reflects my hopes and beliefs about death and
the purpose of life. I hope it will resound with other readers as well.
(If not, it made my editor cry, so he's happy.)

3. What did you enjoy most about writing JUST ONE WISH?

As resistant as I was to write this book, once I started, it just poured out
of me. I was able to write the whole story really fast, which doesn't
usually happen. I also enjoyed Annika's character. She's not your usual
teenage girl. She has both the drive and ability to get what she wants.

4. What did you enjoy the least?

The amount of times I cried when I wrote the book. I also cried while
researching the kids cancer wing at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Pretty
much I was a mess every time I wrote or edited--and that's kind of hard to
explain to acquaintances who call you on the phone, and you are, for no
apparent reason, weeping.

5. Do you have a favorite scene or moment from the book?

The trailer scene is one of my all time favorite scenes in any of my books.
I still loved it after editing the book a gazillion times. And Mr.
Blasingame, the show writer--yeah, he's pretty much me. He acts exactly
like I do when I write.

6. You do a great job with dialogue. What advice would you give a writer
who struggles on this front?

Authors need to examine their dialogue and make sure it's moving their story
along. I've read far too many books that have way too much pointless
chit-chat in them. And yes, in real life people have mostly pointless
chit-chat, but books are not real life. Very few people would pay seventeen
dollars for a hard back copy of real life.

7. Who are the writers that inspire you?

Most writers inspire me because they write not for the money or the fame but
because they love writing. It really is an art form and I know so many
people who are passionate about this art form. They want to tell stories,
they want to be heard. When you think of it, all novelists spend a huge
amount of time on their work before they even have an inkling of a hope that
someone will pay them for it. Truck drivers don't do this. Neither do
CEOs. With writers though, it's truly a labor of love.

8. What book could read over and over (and over)?

The Princess Bride, Pride and Prejudice, and The Phantom Toll Booth. I
obviously have a thing for P books.

9. Do you have a favorite quote you'd like to share?

This is from author Gary Provost: "People often ask me why publishing is so
hard. I tell them, 'Publishing is easy. It's writing well that's so d--

I think of this quote when I'm having a hard time writing. Sometimes it is
really hard. But it's worth it.


Lisa B. said...

This IS a great interview--inspiring, actually!

Pink Ink said...

Great interview, Ann. Thanks for sharing. *a book that makes one cry* would be quite an achievement. Good for Janette.