Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Interview with Carrie Jones

So, I recently did an interview with Carrie Jones, who is the author of Need.

1. Where did you get the idea for Need?

Okay. This is sort of a strange story. You have to promise not to think I'm weird.

I was at the Common Ground Fair, which is this huge, cool fair in Maine that’s sponsored by Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association (MOFGA). To get to the main part of the fair you have to walk through this sweet trail that curves through these tall spruce trees.

Right in front of me was this guy. He had a weird vibe. He was wearing all corduroy – blazer, pants. And sticking out from his blazer was this long tail-like appendage that was wrapped in different colored earth-toned cloth. I guess he could tell I was checking him out because he turned his head and looked at me. His eye was this startling silver color. How startling? So startling that I actually gasped and got creeped out.

Then when we were in line to pay we made eye contact again and his eyes were brown.

I know! I know! I probably imagined the silver eye color.

It doesn’t matter. That was one of the main things that got me started. Then, I just had this image of a man standing outside an airport pointing at an airplane this girl was on.

It also creeped me out.

So, I started writing.

2. When you found out that Need was going to get published, did you expect it to have the wild amount of popularity that it has now?

Oh gosh. Do you think it's wildly popular, really? I live way up the coast of Maine so I am so out of it when it comes to stuff like popularity. But - yeah - when I found out NEED was going to be published I was totally psyched. I didn't even think about it being popular I was just so happy it was going to go in print. The fact that it's gone into multiple printings since it came out in December just blows me away.

3. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Everyone writes differently and lives differently so I'm never cool at telling people, "YOU MUST DO IT MY WAY!"
But what has helped me is:
1. Reading tons of other books and seeing what I like or don't like in them.
2. Writing every day even if it's only one sentence. It's hard to be a writer if you don't write.
3. Doing as much as I can outside of writing. You know, falling in love, feeling emotions, doing random things like going on a mussel dredging boat at 5 am or being an undercover hooker, and listening to other people's stories. I think the best writers are those that can understand people and why they do things. I'm still working on that.

4. What did it feel like when you got your first book published?

I was basically in shock. I went to the Borders that's about 40 minutes from my house and snuck into the YA section hoping it was there. I basically passed out when I saw someone actually lifting up my book and checking it out.

I kept whispering, "Buy it! Buy it!"

And I basically was doing this very subdued happy dance in the middle grade book section because I was so psyched.

It was subdued because I didn't want management to come and kick me out of the store.
5. What are some of your favorite Young Adult authors?

I am pretty eclectic. I love E. Lockhart and John Green and Cassie Clare and Michelle Jaffe and Rita Williams-Garcia and M.T. Anderson and Sherman Alexie and Tim Wynne-Jones and Sharon Darrow and Cynthia Leitich Smith. There's a ton of authors who graduated from Vermont College School of Fine Arts and I adore all of them as well. But if I listed them all -- it would be pretty bad.

6. When did you know that you first wanted to become an author?

I used to write a TON when I was little but I never thought of being an author. Right after college I wanted to be a poet and I was but I couldn't make ANY money at it so I became a reporter and newspaper editor. Then in 2005 I thought, "Dude, it is SO much more fun to make stories up than to write about real things." So I applied to Vermont College and started the program in 2006. My first book came out in 2007. It was pretty fast and cool.

7. Why did you choose to write Young Adult fiction?

I think it's just my natural voice and I really care about things that young adults deal with -- things like identity and choice and freedom. Plus, young adults are just made of awesome.

I also have two nonfiction picture books coming out that aren't for young adults. My favorite story I've ever written is actually middle grade.

When we write books we can write them according to accepted forms, kind of like a Playmobile castle, following all the directions. People know what they get that way. And it can be really good, really comforting and empowering.

Or when we write books we can freestyle a bit more, mixing up Playmobiles with Legos. We can design our own thing and in doing that come at the truth in a slightly different way, a way that might make us question our world view.

What does this have to do with why I write for kids/teens?

As a writer, I want to write things that are crazy Playmobile/Lego mixes. A little Chick-lit with a some literary with some T.S. Eliot theory thrown in.

I write for teens because I want to empower them. I want to create a world they recognize and legitimize their world by presenting it as truth, but I also want teens to question that world a little bit, shake up that world view, question it. It’s only by searching and exploring that we can figure our way back to the truth that is our own.

I think kids/teens are really good explorers, and truth-seekers. I like that. So I write for that.

8. Do you have a special place where you do all of your writing?

A tiny little table that's crammed between the side of the refrigerator and the piano. ;(
Someday I'll have a real grown-up office, I swear.

9. If you could have any other profession, besides being an author, what would you be?

I'd like to work for Amnesty International.
I'd also like to be one of those travel writer people. So cool.

10. Is there anything that you would like to add?

Gosh no. Thank you so much for interviewing me. I am really honored.

I would like to say thanks to Carrie Jones for agreeing to do this interview.


Jenna said...

It's very cool that Carrie and I both have the same favorite YA authors!

Liyana said...

Heyy, you got a lil something over at my blog.

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Great interview! Thanks!
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of HOPE..
Ch. 1 is online!

vvb32 reads said...

Good stuff! I liked learning about the guy with the silver eyes. Hmmm, being and undercover hooker... I think I NEED to pick up this book.