True confessions. I love interviewing, but I hate transcribing. It’s frustrating because the more excited I get about these opportunities the more questions I ask and the more frustrated I at lengthy typing sessions. (The worst part is re-hearing my annoying voice and questions.)
It was a different story when I interviewed Rainbow Rowell, who happens to be one of my favorite YA authors. She is as much fun to interview as she is to read and I’d just devoured Fangirl which added even more to the experience. The proof? I did not mind listening at all our conversations. Well, maybe my annoying voice bothered me a bit, but I was still inspired re-listening to her accessibility, her fondness for her characters, her passion for writing, her laughter and curious mind.
I interviewed her for AudioFile http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/features/A2886.html. Understandably, my writeup was somewhat slanted, but if it weren’t would I have learned such amazing things about her being “a very out-loud writer?”
I learned so much about her, her thought process, her interiority, her publishing experiences and relationships and about writing in general. I wanted to share a few more of her thoughtful, well-expressed words. Especially for all the fangirls and fanboys in her readership.
Rowell on character descriptions:“I tend to not give really specific character traits. You get more of them in Eleanor and Park because you have the viewpoint switch, but there’s no reason for Cath (the heroine of Fangirl) to sit and talk about what she looks like. As people we don’t sit around describing ourselves to ourselves.”
One of the things I adore is that Rowell’s characters is that are not gorgeous and you fall in love with them anyways. One of my favorites (and Rowell’s) is Cath’s boyfriend Levi, whom she describes as having a “forty acre forehead.” Rowell’s comment on her less than perfect-looking characters: “It’s real that most people don’t look conventionally beautiful. We go through our lives surrounded by people who look like themselves, it’s not until you fall in love with someone or get attracted to them that they become just breathtaking to you. They’re not breathtaking unless you have feelings for them….You think it’s too good to be true when someone falls in love with you. We’re so used to watching movies or TV, or reading books that have extremely, extremely conventionally beautifully people that when someone falls in love with you, you think, yeah, right!
Rowell on Fan Fiction (which she reads all the time along with fantasy, her other favorite genre): “I don’t think her fan fiction is plagerism. When I started talking about this book there were people in my publishing life who said, “that’s plagerism” and I was a little taken aback. No it’s not, I thought. It would be different if you were selling it, or presenting it as your own, or even if you were stealing language and saying “I wrote it.” For me fan fiction isn’t pretending at all that they created it, they’re just playing in someone else’s playground.”
My favorite part of the interview with Rainbow Rowell came up when she spoke about fan fiction of her book: “I’ve seen a bit of fan fiction about Eleanor and Park on tumblr, but I haven’t really gone looking because I’m not really done with those characters. I don’t want to let other people’s ideas about the characters get into my head. I envisioned Eleanor and Park as two books when I first wrote it. I knew by the end what the rest of their story was, I always have known. I conceived it as a much more lifelong journey for them. It’s scary now because the book is successful enough that there are different expectations. And it’s scary to think of someone saying it’s not as good as Eleanor and Park. I may be able to come back to it. I don’t want to write about them as teenagers, so that’s a little complicated. There’s hope you’ll see them again.”
When I heard there might be another Eleanor and Park, I jumped up and down!!! And then I had the additional good fortune to interview Rebecca Lowman a week later (the narrator of her two YAs). She thought they might not be together because, after all, people do grow after their teenage years..that made me sad. Would love to know what others think. Please comment!
Rowell on other future writing: “I’m also not done with Simon and Baez (the main characters in Cath’s fan fiction). I’ve written a little bit of straight fantasy. I would love to write some fantasy. When I wrote Fangirl, I didn’t know if I could do it, so it was a bit of an experiment without risking too anything. It felt right for me. I’d like to write a fantasy novel because that’s what I like to read.”
Crushing on her characters:“I have such a crush on Levi. I kept giving him bigger scenes. My agent who reads my stuff first, and is not a romantic, said “I think you have to cut some of this Levi”. I listened to everything he said except about cutting Levi. When my editor bought the book the first thing she said was “I’m dangerously in love with Levi” and I thought, I’m glad I didn’t cut those parts.”
“I find I often get a crush on some of my character’s dads. They’re more age appropriate crushes. When I was writing Eleanor and Park, I started out with a crush on Park and then I got a crush on his dad who I thought was dreamy. In the 2nd draft he got a lot more scenes. He’s the only one I have a dream celeb I’d love to play his part if there were a movie. Mark Ruffalo!”