Friday, April 10, 2009

Interview with Aimee Friedman!

Aimee Friedman is the author of several YA novels including South Beach, French Kiss, The Year My Sister Got Lucky, and many others. Her newest novel, Sea Change will be released June 1, 2009.
Here is the interview:

What is your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?
There are many things I love about writing, but I'd say that my favorite part--other than the sheer fun that comes with inventing whole worlds--is what happens after a book is written: that is to say, hearing back from my readers. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that the story you have labored over alone has spoken to another person in some way--inspired them, excited them, entertained them. Luckily, in this era of websites and Facebook, it's easier than ever for authors to hear from readers, and vice-versa. So, readers: please feel free to email me! (

My least favorite part has got to be writer's block. A lot of people say writer's block doesn't exist, but I wholeheartedly disagree! That heavy, unsatisfying feeling you get when you know what you want to say but can't get the words and sentences to obey you--that's torture. Staring for hours at the teasing blank screen, rewriting a paragraph a million different ways... that is the hard, sticky part of writing. Of course, once you get through it, the wonderful sense of relief can't be beat.
If you weren’t a writer, what would be your preferred career choice?
I actually have another job! I work full-time as a senior editor at a big publishing house, which, aside from writing fiction, is something I have always wanted to do. Needless to say, I love books, and it's lovely to be surrounded by them, both at work and at home. There are many times, though, when essentially having two full-time jobs starts to take its toll on me. I don't get enough sleep, and I'll often daydream about chucking it all and running off to live in a secluded small town and work as a nanny.

I also daydream about working in: film (as a director or screenwriter), fashion (as a designer or stylist), or advertising (I love the show "Mad Men").
What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies?
My hobby was always writing--which, sadly, sort of ceases to be a hobby when it becomes your career. The same goes for reading (since I have to read all the time as an editor!). I do, however, love to dance--I studied ballet when I was growing up (and I wrote about it in THE YEAR MY SISTER GOT LUCKY) and I still enjoy taking dance classes when I can find the time. I also love exploring New York City, my hometown, particularly when said exploring involves cozy restaurants and shoe stores.
What is the most important message that you want to portray to your readers in your books?
There are so many books out there that emphasize a "mean girls" culture. I like to think my books promote a more positive image of young women that shows how kind they can be to each other...while still offering a juicy, breathless read! For example, my novel, SOUTH BEACH, is about boys and bikinis and scandals, but ultimately it's a story of true friendship between two girls.
What advice would you give to teens passionate about writing?
Read! Read what you love, read what excites and interests you, whether it's graphic novels, fantasy, "chick-lit," classics, etc. The more you read, the more inspired you will feel to tell your own stories--trust me. And the same goes for your own writing: write down whatever excites and interests you, not necessarily what you feel you "should" be writing. I always say, your own writing should make your heart beat a little bit faster.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have serious trouble writing in my own apartment--my bed is too inviting, the fridge is too full, the TV too tempting! So I usually write in a nice little coffee shop right near my apartment. It has squishy seats, free WiFi, delicious iced lattes, and, perhaps most importantly, tons of other people with their laptops, working away. Being around other people who are working gets me motivated, too.
What do you do to fight writer’s block?
As I mentioned above, writer's block is my mortal enemy! I have found some ways to combat it, though. The thing with writer's block is, trying to force yourself through it is a losing battle. The key is to give yourself space, and step away. Usually taking a long walk, seeing a movie, having dinner with a friend, or reading another book will do the trick. I think writer's block is all about being burned out, and needing a rest. Sometimes it might take a few days or even a week, but eventually I'll start feeling inspired and invigorated again.
When you’re writing a new book, who do you let read your first drafts, if anyone?
I actally like to show my older sister my work in progress. She's an English professor and a great writer herself, so I trust her opinion completely. Also--and this is crucial--she is always 100% honest with me. If she doesn't think something is working, she'll tell me flat-out. On the other hand, if she tells me something is terrific, I'll know to believe her. The same goes for my editor, who always sees my complete first drafts--when it comes to writing and getting critiques, honesty is the best policy.
Who are your favorite YA authors?
Wow, that's tough to narrow down --this is such a wonderful, rich time for YA fiction. Right now, I'd have to say Kate Brian, Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Libba Bray, Lisa Ann Sandell, David Levithan, Lynn Weingarten, Nina Beck, Micol Ostow, Katie Finn, Hailey Abbott, Claudia Gabel, Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and many many more...
Sea Change is your first fantasy novel. Was writing a story with a magical aspect a different experience than that with your other books? If so, how?
At first, I didn't really think of SEA CHANGE as fantasy--I just knew I wanted to write a love story with a magical twist. The writing of it was definitely a different experience from my other books. All fiction is about world-building, but fantasy--especially good fantasy--has worlds that are so much more fully realized, so much more developed. It was challenging--but also a lot of fun--to invent the world of Selkie Island, the legend and lore. It involved some degree of research and a lot of careful plotting. In the end, though, I still think of SEA CHANGE as essentially a love story. The magic--or the mystery-- is just an added bonus.
What are you currently working on?
I loved spooky stories when I was young, so I'm actually working on a supernatural, spooky book for younger (tween) readers. It's a nice change of pace! On the YA end of things, I'm brainstorming a novel about traveling--if you've read SOUTH BEACH, FRENCH KISS, or HOLLYWOOD HILLS, you'll know I love writing about exotic, glamorous locales.

What are some things your readers probably do not know about you?
A lot of me spills into the characters in my books--Katie in THE YEAR MY SISTER GOT LUCKY and Norah in A NOVEL IDEA are both very similar to me in lots of ways: daydreamers, book-lovers, sensitive souls. But something that might surprise readers is that, like Miranda in SEA CHANGE, I went to the Bronx High School of Science, and I actually really liked science growing up. The facts and figures of science (and math) often provided such a nice balance to the ambiguities of writing and literature. Eventually, I realized science wasn't for me, but there was a time when I was very passionate about cell division! I guess it goes to show you never know where your interests will lead you...

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