Interview: Daisy Whitney
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Without a Trace score music
I first crossed paths with Daisy Whitney last year. The paths were virtual, as we were both commenting on a post at the blog of author Courtney Summers. I clicked over to Daisy's blog and learned that she too was a writer. A self-described producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster and raconteur, Daisy recently celebrated the release of her debut novel, The Mockingbirds. This YA novel follows Alex as she navigates the quiet halls of her boarding school during her junior year of high school. Struggling with a secret - she was raped - Alex learns of a secret society on campus that might be interested in helping her right this horrible wrong.
Now, let's talk to the person behind this powerful story - author Daisy Whitney.
How did you land your book deal?
I wrote three chick lit novels that were repped but never sold and between them accumulated at least 100 rejections between agents and editors. When I switched to writing for teens, I finally broke through and landed a book deal! I truly attribute the success to finally writing in the "right" genre for me. I LOVE writing for teens. But it was a long road paved with many thanks but no thanks and I have the stack of rejection letters and 300,000-plus unpublished words to prove it.
Was your novel always titled THE MOCKINGBIRDS, or did you have other working titles?
The working title was THE POSTER CHILD before I fully developed the concept and world of the Mockingbird secret society.
In what ways did Harper Lee's novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD inspire THE MOCKINGBIRDS? Did you re-read portions of it while writing your book?
YES! And I looked up favorite quotes again and again! The inspiration comes from Harper Lee's novel because her book is truly the canonical story of justice and doing the right thing. I just shot a video on that inspiration if you want to hear more! (Click here to watch the video.)
How did you handle the delicate subject matter in your book? Did you ever find yourself at odds with an editor or publisher over how you would describe or discuss the attack?
My editors at Little Brown were and have been thoroughly supportive of the content and the storytelling. In fact, the parts of the book that needed the least editing were probably Alex's flashbacks of that night. I think the key to handling delicate subject matter is to not bludgeon the reader with it - that's why I told the night of the rape in flashbacks, interspersed with moments of friendship, levity and budding romance.
How much of the story and/or characters reflect your own high school experience? Did you go to boarding school?
I am a product of Florida's public high schools! The boarding school does bear some resemblances to my university though!
Tell us about the Mockingbird Diaries.
The Mockingbirds Diaries is a video series I created that's told video blog style by "Amy," who is the head of the Mockingbirds secret society. I hired a Northwestern University theater student Hannah Aubry to play Amy and she talks to the camera as if she is talking to the student body about the Mockingbirds.
Do you have another novel in the works?
I just turned in a sequel to THE MOCKINGBIRDS, and I am now revising an edgy, sexy, mystery-caper story and just started a new novel about a boy that I’m really digging too!
What are your ten favorite novels of all time?
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, Harry Potter series, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Cracked up to Be by Courtney Summers, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
You're a multi-talented business woman: producer, journalist, and author. Are you a multi-tasker as well, or do you completely focus on one project at a time until it is completed?
I often toggle back and forth between different projects depending on the stage of the project. But I do segment out my time and apportion it to different tasks each day and then move something off the plate for the day so I can focus on other things.
For those who have yet to check out your show New Media Minute, give us a quick overview: What do you discuss, and how often do you post new content?
I post an episode of the New Media Minute every week and my Web show covers trends in new media including who is making money.
To learn more about Daisy, her books, and her shows, please visit daisywhitney.com and daisywhitneybooks.com
Follow the Winter Blog Blast Tour (WBBT) all week long! Here is today's schedule:
B.A. Binns at The Happy Nappy Bookseller
Daisy Whitney at Bildungsroman
Adam Gidwitz at Fuse #8
Salley Mavor at Seven Impossible Things
Josh Berk at Finding Wonderland