Interview: Gena Showalter
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Current Song: Rubbed Out by Duncan Sheik
What if popularity truly was a game - a game from which you couldn't escape until you learned a lesson? Find out what happens when students of opposing social classes clash in Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter.
Jade thinks of popular girl Mercedes and her friends as Barbie clones; Mercedes considers Goth girl Jade and her friends to be freaks. When tensions flare between them, the school administration punishes Jade in a rather unusual way: by forcing her into a virtual reality game. When Jade wakes up, the tables have turned at school. The majority of her classmates are dressed like Jade. They hang on her every word - and so do the teachers! Meanwhile, her best friends are now her worst enemies, wearing conservative outfits and hanging out with Mercedes. In order to get out of this world gone mad, Jade and Mercedes have to learn to work together.
Gena recently spoke to me about writing her first teen novel.
How long did it take you to write the actual book?
Three worry-filled months. This book was different from anything I'd ever done and I struggled with getting it right, afraid I was doing everything wrong.
Was your book written before or after you landed the book deal? Did you or your agent approach MTV Books or vice versa?
My agent and I approached MTV Books with the germ of an idea. I'd worked with the editor before and loved her! She and I worked out the specifics of the idea, I wrote the proposal (3 chapters and a synopsis) and boom!
Why write for teens? Did you write your book specifically for the teen fiction shelves?
Yes, I wrote it specifically for teen fiction shelves. The idea I had - Goth girl wakes up in a new reality where everyone is Goth and she's just one of the crowd - wouldn't have worked for my adult books, yet it was a story I really wanted to tell. Like I said, I was scared to try this genre, but didn't let the fear stop me.
What age range or grade levels do you feel your book is suitable for - or not?
Eighth grade and up. Mild adult language.
What inspired the title of your book?
The original title was GOTH GIRL, but my editor wanted a list of new titles from me just in case it wouldn't fly. I surfed the net for inspiration and came across a link on Google that said something like, "Oh my. That's Goth isn't it?" The words rolled through my mind and, again, boom!
Do you watch MTV?
Yes! I love Next, Parental Control, The Hills, and Laguna Beach.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jill Monroe, PC Cast, Kresely Cole, Karen Moning, JR Ward, Cherry Adair, Rachel Gibson, Jennifer Crusie, Nalini Singh, Pamela Britton, Marjorie Liu, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Cara Lockwood, Beth Killian, and many more! Look for newcomer Rachel Vincent sometime next year. (One of the perks of the job is getting to read advanced copies of other people's books!)
What are some of your favorite musicians, actors, or TV shows?
Believe it or not, when it comes to music I adore gospel. Actors, well, I'm a huge fan of eye candy. Brad Pitt, Colin Farrel, Jessica Alba, Scarlet Johansson. I also love Will Farrell. The man cracks me up!
Would you ever write a sequel for your book?
Absolutely! I love the world and people I created.
What are your top ten books of all time?
I actually prefer writing series. I know the characters, I know the world. And instead of a quick glimpse into the realm I spent so much time creating, I get to kick back, relax, and stay a while, peeling back layers and finding treasures I hadn't known where there when I first arrived. Every one of my series (Atlantis, Alien Huntress, and Lords of the Underworld) was meant to be a series.
Which of your adult romance novels are "okay" for teens to read? Which are not?
I think it depends on the teen. I was reading adult romances before the age of fifteen. There was sex and harsh language in most of them, and I handled it all very well.
When approaching a deadline, do you meet it in advance, attack it head-on, or panic?
I'm a time fanatic. I simply can't be late for anything. That's what drives me to panic: the thought of being late. I tend to work quickly and non-stop until I'm sure I can beat my deadline.
What's next for you, personally or professionally?
Up next is the third installment of the Atlantis series, The Nymph King (February 2007), followed by my second contemporary romance, Catch A Mate (June 2007).
Then – and I'm really excited about this! – are the first two books in my new teen Alien Huntress novels, Red Handed and Black Listed. The first is about an ordinary high school senior who learns that otherworldly creatures aren't the only thing to fear at night.
After that, it's the start of a new series, Lords of the Underworld, with the debut of The Darkest Night, about a man who is cursed to die every night in the most painful way imaginable, then awakens the next morning knowing he’ll have to die again, and the woman who finally saves him. I’m just so excited with all the things happening in my career!