After a long hiatus, the Author Answers column is back this week (and hopefully for weeks to come.)
Re-kicking things off is YA author Tina Ferraro. Ferraro's latest book just came out. For more on her, you can check out her website or find her at YA Fresh where she is a regular blog contributor.
WN: "How to Hook a Hottie" just hit shelves. If someone's looking for a how-to book, is this the title for them?
Ferraro: No, this is fiction. In fact, when I handed the proposal into my editor, I called it Hook a Hottie (Or Your Money Back). She changed it to How To, which prompted me to alter the scope of the book a bit, to include some tips. There are some does-he-like-me tests in the book that have had successful results for people in real life, and I did turn to friends and the Internet for some other ideas. But for a nonfiction guide to picking up cute guys, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
WN: What's it really about and how did you get the idea for it?
Ferraro: Whereas in my previous book, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, I had an a-ha moment where the idea struck, How to Hook a Hottie happened through the course of several drafts. It wasn’t until a few pivotal characters started to breath life that the story took off. Here’s the plot: Kate DelVecchio plans to be a millionaire before she's 20. When she agrees to go to a sports banquet with a hotshot baseball player, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the school is amazed that the no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn't know anything about getting guys, but for $100.00 a pop, she's more than willing to try, including inventing a 6-step-plan on How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?
WN: You write YA and it seems like there is a lot of worry these days about the messages being sent to teenage girls about how to act/dress/think/behave, etc. What messages are you trying to get across to teen girls that you think are really important?
Ferraro: I have a few basic messages that are threaded through all my books that reflect my own beliefs. Those are never to sell yourself short, to chase dreams, and to try/try again. I try not to hit readers over the head with those messages because I don’t think they are revolutionary or astonishing--just good common sense.
WN: Were you a reader as a kid? What turned you on to the idea of being a writer?
Ferraro: I was a voracious reader as a kid, often reading favorite books over and over again. As far as writing, I’ve been doing it since I could first hold a pencil. In second grade, the teacher called my mother in to say I showed usual talent in creative writing--which, when this was relayed to me, I found baffling. Writing stories was fun--like recess--so who was to say who was good and it and who wasn’t?
WN: What's the most influential book you've read and why?
Ferraro: Many books have moved me at different points in my life, but I often think back to Christy by Catherine Marshall as a book that mesmerized me as a reader and a writer. I read it several times as a teen, and then again in my twenties--and actually loved it the most that last time. It’s a coming-of-age story about an idealistic young woman in the early 1900’s who thinks she can make a difference in the lives of impoverished Appalachian families--and who ends up learning more than she teaches.
WN: What's the best advice you received as a writer?
Ferraro: Often I reflect on Nora Roberts’ statement that she can’t edit a blank screen. It’s encouraged me through some rough periods where the words won’t come, where I keep telling myself if I just get something on the screen that I can edit, I am moving forward.
WN: What's next for you as a writer?
Ferraro: In the spring of 2009, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys will be released. It’s about a 16 year-old girl who doesn’t get promoted to Varsity soccer with her teammates, and the crazy-but-just-might-work scheme that she concocts to get her coach’s attention, which includes kissing the prom king at the sports’ fair kissing booth. But first she needs to find out everything she can about kissing, and that help comes in the most unlikely of sources--the freshman guy across the street. But will maintaining this secret alliance with a froshie actually become more important than making Varsity?