Welcome to We Do Write, Ella!
Thank you for having me! I'm glad to be here.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a Southern California native, and I call myself a prep school survivor, mainly because I think that's the best description for having escaped prep school mostly unscathed. =) All kidding aside, I'm a contemporary young adult author who writes about kids who are way cooler than I've ever been. I'm also the mom of an extremely precocious 7-year-old who provides me with ample writing fodder and inspiration. In my non-writing life, I'm a sales analyst for a multinational restaurant chain, and I've been known to dabble in photography, needlework, and culinary experimentation on occasion.
You sound like a busy lady! How long have you been writing?
I started writing with the intent of being a published author when I was about 10 years old, but then around high school, I didn't do much writing besides the angst-filled scribblings in my journals.
Throughout my 20s, I was focused on building a career and going to graduate school, and writing took a back seat. But a few years ago, I started thinking about some of my high school classmates and thought it might be fun to kind of rewrite history, if you will. I started dabbling again, but I didn't get serious until NaNoWriMo 2012, when I wrote WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP?
Tell us about WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP. What’s
the story about?
I hooked my agent when I pitched it via Twitter as a YA contemporary retelling of Snow White where we discover Prince Charming is anything but. That's the super-condensed version. But it's really about a girl discovering that sometimes the guy who's supposed to be The One isn't, especially when he starts behaving like a control-freaky misogynist. But it's a romance, after all, so she does get a Happily Ever After. Or, at least a Happy for Now.
How did the idea of the story come to you?
It came from a "what if," really. I was reading the original Grimm version of Snow White and was kind of appalled that Prince Charming purchased her from the dwarves while she was in her glass coffin. That's not the version Disney showed us. Anyway, in the original tale, the prince has his servants carry the coffin with the princess still inside--to his castle. Along the way, the servants stumble and dislodge the piece of apple that was in Snow White's throat. So she wakes up, she and the prince fall in love, and poof! Happily Ever After. But what if the prince was really a jerk? I mean, he essentially bought her to be a decorative element in his castle. So I played off of that, and Dante was born.
How incredibly delicious! I can't wait to read it! Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I do a lot of self-editing, but I have a handful of trusted readers, too. My friend Sara has read WTRPCPSU at least 6 times, all after my agent had already signed me (and once more before it went to galleys), and I have other friends who have read it at least twice. For me, self-editing before I let anyone else look at it is key because it's so hard to slough through poorly written pages. My friend Kirsten is reading my current work in progress, and even now I cringe as I hit send on the email when I send her each chapter.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a bit of both, but I think I lean more on the side of plotter. I can't begin to write a story until I know how to begin it and exactly how it will end. Then I lay out three plot points to hit, and I continue from there. I work off a very loose outline, so it still allows for a lot of exploration and discovery, but I still know which dots I absolutely need to connect.
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Self-doubt. No, seriously. I look at an empty page, see the blinking cursor, and kind of freak out. It might sound a little crazy, but I'm always so worried about being true to the characters. In my mind, these aren't just imaginary figures I put on a page. They're real, breathing people with fears and ambitions and baggage. So I struggle sometimes (okay, often) with making sure they maintain integrity. It's all a result of me second-guessing myself, and I know it. But self-doubt, man. That's a hard thing to overcome.
I feel your pain ... (((hugs))) What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
Headphones. Or at least earbuds. I've actually bought several pairs of earbuds from the drugstore by the coffee shop where I write just because I've forgotten to bring my headphones. Music is such a critical part of my creative process. It's what helps me remember what it was like to be a teenager.
What are you reading right now?
Nothing right this very second. I have a terrible tendency to read a book in its entirety in a single sitting. Like, if I know I won't have time to read it all at once, I won't even start it. That said, the last book I read was GUITAR NOTES by Mary Amato (loved it), and I'm anxious to start TEASE by Amanda Maciel soon, as I'd wanted to read it from the moment I heard about it, and it's now staring at my from its perch on my bookshelf.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
The ability to control time. I don't even need to be able to travel through time. I'd be perfectly content to be able to pause or stretch the time I already have. Interestingly enough, I've given this considerable thought and really pondered the implications of having this ability. But that's a whole other conversation.
What's the weirdest thing you've googled?
Hmm. That's a tough one. I think I've looked up a lot of craziness. But I think the grossest thing I've searched for was a diagram of the human eye. There were a lot of images that I wish I could unsee.
Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: stand,
realistic, and croissant.
The fake croissant staring at me from the boulangerie stand looked so realistic, I wondered if the real thing tasted half as good.
Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...
... obsessing about how to move the next scene--and story--forward. Or I'm at the day job, running errands, chauffeuring my son, doing laundry, cleaning the house, reading, or sleeping. No, wait. Scratch sleeping. That doesn't happen often enough to count. ;-)
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you.
Let's hear your shout outs.
Ooh! I wrote a little something for this very occasion! You know, just in case. *unfolds paper* I'd like to thank the Academy for this honor-- *receives note* Oh, sorry. Wrong thank you speech. ;-)
So much thanks goes to my agent, Julia A. Weber, who believed in Bianca and the rest of the kids at Westgate from the very beginning and was such a staunch supporter that I couldn't help but believe in
Huge thanks to Sara, Melissa, and Wendy who were ultimately my Alpha readers. They read multiple versions of WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP? and provided insanely helpful feedback every time.
I don't know how I would have lasted these last few months without my agency-sisters: Ellis, Precy, Gail, Amanda, Robin, Andrea, and Rebecca. They've all entrusted me with their cell phone numbers and have endured countless freakouts via text from me.
I would be remiss if I didn't thank Nicole Brinkley, whose insight helped me shape my characters into who they are, and a massive shout out also goes to my friends Brad, Jason, Sean, and Juan who all humored me and pretended to be guys on numerous occasions for the sake of research.
And I can hear the orchestra starting to play, so I'll hurry with the rest. Thanks to my amazing publicist Natasha who has been a tremendous help in getting WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP? ready for launch, to my publisher Stephanie and the rest of the team at Astraea Press, to my beautiful nieces for being my audience, to my sister for never doubting me, and to my husband and son for intermittently putting up with piles of laundry because I'm in The Zone. I love you guys!
And finally, where can people find you and your book online?
I am (in the order of how often you'll find me):
And you can my book will soon be available online at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.