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Interview: Elizabeth Scott

May 7th, 2007 (05:56 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Feels Like Home by Chantal Kreviazuk

When Elizabeth Scott was a teenager, she did not yet plan on becoming a writer. She did not know exactly what career she would pursue once she was out of high school. What she did know was that she didn't want to live in the middle of nowhere.

Years later, all grown up and having had a variety of jobs, Elizabeth found herself writing a novel about a girl who is searching for something more. In BLOOM, Lauren finds herself stuck in a kind of emotional limbo. I suppose you could say that she too is in the middle of nowhere. ( Read my full-length book review. )

Spring has sprung, BLOOM is in stores, and Elizabeth is hanging out at Bildungsroman.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Oh, this is a tough one. See, every writer I've ever met has always wanted to write, and has fantastic stories about the writing they did when they were children and you know what I've got?

Nothing. I started writing when I was twenty-seven (I know, what a random age!), and ended up meeting some very kind people who encouraged my horrifically feeble first efforts and, over time, nudged me to consider thinking about writing something and, you know, actually sending it out into for people/publications to look at.

So, long story short, I knew when I was thirty-two, after someone bought the first short story I ever worked up the nerve to send out. That's when I thought, "Hey, maybe I really can do this."

How long did it take to write BLOOM?

It took me about eight weeks to write the first draft. And then a lot longer to revise it!

I really liked the confusion that I 'heard' in Lauren's voice. Do you find it easy to write in first person?

I do. It's like slipping into someone else's skin, and I like that. I think first person is very intimate.

One of my favorite early passages in the book is Lauren's memory of her mother pressed up against the glass, looking out. Would you rather be on the inside looking out or the outside looking in?

Outside looking in. You can see more that way.

Throughout the story, Lauren makes it clear that she does not want to be like her mother. Do you think that she will ever want to reunite with her mom?

I think she might, but I think she also knows that if she did want to, she'd have a much bigger problem than her own doubts about it, and that is: would her mother even want to see her? This is someone who left and never looked back, never contacted Lauren at all. What are the odds she'd want to see Lauren again?

Three male characters factor heavily into this story: Lauren's boyfriend, Lauren's father, and Evan. Are there shades of you in any of them?

Oh, you're tricky! I figured you'd ask if any of the female characters are like me. (Isn't that a question that usually gets asked?)

Anyway, nope, they aren't like me at all. Dave's far more perfect (and nice!) than I am, Evan is much better looking, and her father's life has been way, way more intense.

I loved the title. Within the story itself, I sought it out, and (without spoiling it for those who haven't read it yet!) the revelation was worth the wait. Did the title come to you before or after writing the book? Did it ever have any other title?

The title came to me when I got the idea for the story -- I thought it fit what the story was about -- and I'm very grateful that Simon Pulse liked it enough to keep it!

Next spring and summer, two more Elizabeth Scott books for teens will hit the shelves: Perfect You in March and Stealing Heaven in June. Care to share a little bit about each story?

Perfect You is about a girl, Kate, whose father is undergoing what may possibly be the world's most embarrassing mid-life crisis. Also, her best friend isn't talking to her anymore, and she's got some major guy problems.

Stealing Heaven is about a girl, Dani, who travels around the country with her mother, stealing antique silver, and what happens when they end up in the coastal town of Heaven and Dani falls for a guy who has very close ties to the law.

What inspired Perfect You?

Perfect You came about because I wanted to write a story about what happens when a parent experiences a mid-life crisis, and also look at how painful it is to lose someone you consider a friend.

Are you a perfectionist?

I am, about some things. Others, like say, housekeeping -- not so much.

The title of Stealing Heaven sounds perfectly (there's that word again!) suited to the story. What's the motivation behind her thievery?

Actually, it's the only life she's ever known, and she's not all that happy with it.

You encourage the love of reading at your blog and often give away books to lucky readers. If you could put only ten great books on your top bookshelf, what would they be?

Only ten! ACK! Um, okay. To make this easier on myself, since I could never pick only ten great books, I'm going to sub-categorize.

So . . . here are ten non-young adult books I tend to turn to when I'm stressed:
-- Possession by A. S. Byatt
-- The Reckoning by Charles Nicholl
-- The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd
-- I, Claudius by Robert Graves
-- The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes
-- Affinity by Sarah Waters
-- Nicolas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie
-- Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
-- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
-- With Your Crooked Heart by Helen Dunmore
-- How To Eat by Nigella Lawson (okay, this makes eleven, but since it's technically a cookbook, I figure it's okay to put it in)

Read my reviews of Elizabeth's novels, including Bloom, Perfect You, Stealing Heaven, and The Unwritten Rule.

Bookmark Elizabeth's blog and website.