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Interview: Simone Elkeles

July 12th, 2007 (06:25 am)
okay

Current Mood: okay
Current Song: Ramalama (Bang Bang) by Roisin Murphy

In How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, the first novel by Simone Elkeles, 16-year-old American teenager Amy takes an unexpected trip to Israel when her grandmother becomes ill. She didn't know her grandmother and barely knew her father, much less their culture and religion. Amy's story continues in How to Ruin my Teenage Life, which was released this year. Like its predecessor, Life mixes the funny with the serious. More serious is Elkeles' other 2007 release, Leaving Paradise, which deals with the aftermath of a hit-and-run car accident. A girl is critically injured by a boy her age - someone she knows, in fact - and their lives are forever changed.

Before diving into the deep waters of the interview, I dipped my toe in the shallow end of the pool and asked Simone how to pronounce her last name. "Elka-less," she replied, "I always tell people it's not Elka-more, it's Elka-less." I think I heard a little bit of Amy in that, so we went right into:

What do you think are some common misconceptions that today's teens have about Israel? What do you hope they learn from reading your books?

Gosh, there's so much about Israel and Israelis I want people to know. What you see on television news channels is just one little part of Israel. If the news channels only showed to the world the south side of Chicago, you'd get a very skewed view of what Chicago is. In my book, I wanted to show the parts of Israel people might not know about (and in a hilarious way). Teens live pretty normal lives there. (Until they turn eighteen and have to serve in the military -- which, incidentally, they are proud and happy to do.)

Were any of the events or characters in How to Ruin a Summer Vacation inspired by your own family members?

Absolutely! My father was Israeli and my husband is Israeli, so I have a lot of family members in Israel who I've spent summers with. The family members in How to Ruin a Summer Vacation are caricatures of people I know, mostly family members. I must say that I do have a cousin named Osnat, but the character in my book does not resemble her at all. My husband had a friend Oded who was dating a girl named Osnat, so that gave me the idea to put them together in my book.

Everywhere Amy goes in Israel in the book, I've been. My family lives on the moshav in the book (really called Moshav Kanaf), and I've been kayaking down the Jordan river in a rubber kayak (no kiss there, though). I've camped in the desert and have climbed Masada many times (most recently this past March). You'd be surprised at all the stuff I didn't make up!

What led you to write the sequel, How to Ruin My Teenage Life?

To me, Amy is the best character to write. She has no censor and tells it like it is. She entertains me as a writer. Also, Amy is more like me than any other character I've written. I wanted people to get a sense of who Amy is in her own environment, and how she deals with the next stage of her life after spending a summer away in Israel. That's how the idea of How to Ruin my Teenage Life was born.

Do you plan on writing more books about Amy?

No plans on writing more Amy books, although I really would like to. Hopefully in the future I'll write another Amy book, I get requests from fans all the time for another Amy adventure.

Leaving Paradise is told from two perspectives. The POV alternates every chapter. Did you write one character's chapters first?

I wrote the book as you see it, alternating between Maggie and Caleb. It was the first book I wrote that way and I loved showing the male and female points of view.

Do you have any other novels in the works?

I am working on another novel, this one is also in alternating points of view between the male and female character in each chapter. Look for the book to be edgy, because I tend to push the envelope when it comes to writing for teens. When I get a release date, I'll let you know!

What are your ten favorite books?

Sorry, I have to pick my own: How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, How to Ruin My Teenage Life, Leaving Paradise (I write the kind of books that I like to read)

Other teen books I've enjoyed recently:
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Flipped
Secret Society Girl
Rainbow Boys
Twilight
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

Pull up a chair at Simone's cozy site.

How to Ruin My Summer Vacation was selected as a Readergirlz Recommended Read for July 2007.

Comments

Posted by: Melissa (mango_firefly)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)

Great interview L.W.and Simone! Both How to Ruin a Summer Vacation and Leaving Paradise are wonderful books.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC)

Thanks for reading the interview and the books!

Posted by: Melissa (mango_firefly)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)

My pleasure.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 07:33 pm (UTC)

:)

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)

Thanks--her books look great--on the list. =9

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)

Your poor little (big!) list!

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 12th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: July 13th, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 2nd, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

I was so excited after reading this interview! The reason that is because when she anwsered the question if she was working on another novel she said yes yeah! I cant wait until her new novel comes out! Anyways very great interview and I read all three of her books she had so far and I cant wait srry for saying this million times I just cant wait!


EXCELLENT INTERVIEW Simone Elkeles is the BEST AUTHOR EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

How sweet! I will pass your kind words along to Simone. :)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 24th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

Thanks for passing my words along to her I heard she was also writing a sequel to Leaving Paradise I am so excited! I really hope it comes out soon!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: November 25th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
Re: Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 15th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
Re: Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 16th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
Re: Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 16th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Simone Elkeles & all her books and the interview

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 5th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
leaving paradise

I just wanted to let you know if you haven't already can you please go to Simone Elkeles myspace and please check the link where it says a fan named... go to the link on the bottom of that message but if that link does not work go on scrapblog.com and then go under search and type in books and then press the scrapblog that says leaving paradise teen novel. This is only if you can do it.Please Try!

Thanks!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 5th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Re: leaving paradise

Very cool.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 6th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Re: leaving paradise

Thank you. One question when you went on did you go on Simone Elkeles myspace or did you go straight to scrapblog.com

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 6th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: leaving paradise

I did both.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 8th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
Re: leaving paradise

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 8th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Re: leaving paradise

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 9th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)
Re: leaving paradise

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 29th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
Author research project

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: March 1st, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
Re: Author research project

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: March 1st, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Author research project

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: March 5th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
Leaving Paradise sequel

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: March 5th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Leaving Paradise sequel

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: March 6th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Re: Leaving Paradise sequel

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: March 6th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
Re: Leaving Paradise sequel

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: March 15th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Leaving Paradise sequel

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
SEQUELS AND TREQUELS, NEW ONE BOOK!

There is going to be an official sequel to leaving paradise except it is not coming out until 2010 in the spring. The trequel the third book to the How To Ruin books is coming out in 2009 in the spring. Perfect Chemistry is coming out on Christmas Eve DEC 24th! I can't wait for all these books!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Re: SEQUELS AND TREQUELS, NEW ONE BOOK!

Congrats to Simone.

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