The adorable Lorraine Zago Rosenthal agreed to do an interview for us! I'm still mindboggled by this fact, because I've been clicking back on her site for awhile now, taking in the cover of her book. I'm kind of in love with it. Plus, her site alone is just plain pretty. You should check it out. I'm just sayin'.
And now, without further ado!
Okay, first off, it's the question every author has had to answer a thousand and two times; will you tell us about your book Other Words For Love?
OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is about a middle-class high school girl (Ari) from Brooklyn who becomes involved in an intense relationship with a wealthy college student (Blake) from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and her struggle to deal with equally intense emotions when things turn out differently than she had planned. The story also delves into Ari’s complex relationships with her best friend, Summer, and with Ari’s family—especially with her sister, Evelyn, who is a former teen mom. To make things even more complicated, Ari has a serious crush on Evelyn’s husband.
When did the idea for Other Words For Love first hit you and what (if anything) did you know right off the bat?
I’m a character-driven writer, so that’s what hit me first—these intricate people whose story I just had to tell. What I knew right away was that although OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is mainly about Ari’s relationship with Blake, it was going to be important to show why this relationship becomes so intense and has such a deep psychological impact on Ari. I knew that there would have to be a strong back-story about her personality, her self-image, her relationship with her family, and her interactions with Summer. In regard to when these characters came to me, I’d say that I carried them around in my head for a few years before I began to write the story.
Was there a point where you felt like giving up trying to get an agent and/or getting published? Why didn't you?
It’s not always easy to find an agent to represent you and/or to find an editor who wants to publish your work. There were definitely times when giving up crossed my mind, but my love of writing, my affection for this story, and my belief that readers would enjoy it kept me going. Fortunately, I was offered representation by my fabulous agent, Elizabeth Evans of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, and I was thrilled that Elizabeth cared about OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE as much as I did! I was equally thrilled when I found out that an editor at Random House/Delacorte Press also loved my novel. Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t give up!
In your own opinion, do you feel that the plot is more important to the success of a story, or the characters and their interactions with one another?
As I’ve mentioned, the characters are what spark any story I write, so characterization is very important. However, as a writer, you still have to think of something for these characters to do—there is no story without a plot! Although characterization and the interaction among characters are crucial, I can’t say that these components are more or less important than plot. All of the elements need to be in place for a novel to work.
Your cover is very alluring! If I were to see the book in a store, I would be one to pick it up on that fact alone. How much input did you have in the design?
Thanks so much! I love my cover. It was designed by the talented Angela Carlino at Random House. I didn’t provide any ideas for the creation of the final design, but I didn’t need to—I loved it as soon as I saw it, and I feel that it is an accurate visual representation of the story.
I always hate being stuck when writing. When you reach a particularly rough area in your story where you just don't know what direction to take, do you like to wait for inspiration to hit or would you rather tough it out and fix it later?
There are some scenes that I completely see and hear in my mind before I start writing—that’s inspiration. There are other scenes that are harder to put together, and those are the “rough areas” that you mentioned. I typically try to tough it out, and in doing so, I often get an “a-ha!” moment, which is also inspiration. I think that if you wait for inspiration, you’ll never get a novel finished. It’s best to tough it out and improve the more difficult scenes during revisions.
What would be the best advice you could give a teen who would like to have a future in writing?
My advice is to never give up! If you love to write and want to be a published author, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Publishing can be a tough business to break into, but tough doesn’t mean impossible. You just need to keep writing, keep trying, and keep believing in yourself and your work. It’s such a joy to find an agent and an editor who love and understand your work as much as you do. It might take a while to find those people, but you should never stop writing or stop searching!
Are there any scenes that you're particularly fond of having written? We'll look for them when the book is out!
I honestly loved writing every scene in this novel, including the interactions between Ari and her family. I would say that my favorite scenes are the ones between Ari and Blake, especially their last scene together.
And finally, the most difficult of the list: cats or dogs?
I ♥ all animals!!!
Thank you so much Lorraine!
Other Words For Love is out on January 11, 2011! Be sure to pre-order it here.