Alyson’s May release is: Cruel Summer – One summer changes everything in this poignant young adult novel about best friends, popularity, and an unforgettable summer romance.
Alyson NoÃ«l is the award winning author of the teen novels,Faking 19; Art Geeks And PromQueens, Laguna Cove; Kiss & Blog; Saving Zoe, Cruel Summer (May 2008), Evermore(Paranormal, 2009), as well as a contributor to the anthology,First Kiss(Then Tell). Her books have been chosen for the New York Library Associationâ€™s â€œBook of Winter 2006 award,â€ the New York Public Libraryâ€™s prestigious â€œBooks for the Teen Ageâ€ catalog, nominated for YALSAâ€™s â€œTeens Top Ten award,â€ selected for Teen Reads â€œBest Books of 2007â€ list, finalist for the National Readerâ€™s Choice Award, chosen as a â€œFavorite Readâ€ for Canadaâ€™s largest book retailer, Indigo/Coles, and selected for the CBS Early Showâ€™s â€œGive the Gift of Readingâ€ segment. Her debut adult novel, Fly Me To The Moon, based on her adventures as a flight attendant, received four stars from Romantic Times, and is being translated into French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Ok, Iâ€™ll ask the obvious question first. Why YA genre?
My debut novel, FAKING 19, was a very personal story that Iâ€™d been writing in my head for years, until I finally sat down and got it on paper. And the funny thing was, I was so green at the time, knew nothing about publishing, and wasnâ€™t a member of RWA or any other writing organization, that it wasnâ€™t until Iâ€™d signed with an agent and we talked about selling it that I realized Iâ€™d written a young adult novel! I didnâ€™t write it with a genre in mind, it was always about the story. But I realized I really liked writing for teens, and when St. Martinâ€™s offered me a two-book deal; Iâ€™d already started writing ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS so I sold them that too!
I’m not all that familiar with the YA genre. How do you decide what ages to write to?
YA generally covers ages 12 and up. Though since kids often read â€œupâ€ thereâ€™s no real distinction between books for younger and older readers. When Iâ€™m working on a book, I donâ€™t think about the age group Iâ€™m writing for, Iâ€™m more concerned with telling the truth of that particular story, whatever it may call for.
Do you have children? Where do you get your vernacular and the latest trends?
Donâ€™t have kids, though I have plenty of wonderful nieces and nephews who serve as great research tools! But mostly, I just never grew up. Despite all outward appearances, inside, Iâ€™m still an adolescent a good deal of the time- so writing in a teen voice comes naturally!
What challenges to you find inherent to this genre?
Staying true to the story. Overcoming the urge to protect my readers by portraying the world in a way that I wish it was, rather than the way it really is. The books I got the most out of as a teen where the ones I could relate to, so I always try to write relatable stories too.
Is YA a crowded genre? Do you think it’s harder or easier to get published in this category?
Itâ€™s a very crowded genre and getting more crowded by the day! Though itâ€™s definitely not easier to get published in. I think thereâ€™s a common misconception that if youâ€™re writing for kids and teens it must be easier. But thereâ€™s a real challenge in writing stories that keep their interest while keeping the characters real.
Do you have an agent, or did you go directly to small publishers?
I signed with an agent, who sold FAKING 19 to St. Martinâ€™s Press in a two-book deal. Then later, I switched agents, and have since sold seven more books to St. Martinâ€™s, as well as a story in an anthology for Bloomsbury, FIRST KISS (THEN TELL).
Wow, YA, Autobiographical and now paranormal – you sure are eclectic! Have you found it to be easier to get published as an established author even though you’re breaking into new genres?
Well, like a lot of writers, all of my books contain pieces of my life even though the stories themselves remain fiction. So I guess thereâ€™s always a slight autobiographical element no matter what genre I write in. Though the paranormal book, EVERMORE, just sort of happened. Iâ€™ve been interested in any thing to do with psychics and ghosts since I was a kid, so itâ€™s kind of funny that it took me so long to write about it! But Iâ€™m so glad I did because the research has been a blast! Iâ€™ve taken classes with the world famous psychic/medium James Van Praagh, and underwent a past life regression with Dr. Brian Weisâ€”both of which proved to be very interesting! But since all of my books (other than the anthology) are with St. Martinâ€™s Press, Iâ€™m not sure if itâ€™s easier or harder to break into new genres. I have a good working relationship with them so I just tell them what Iâ€™m interested in writing, and hope the say Yes!
Where do you go for inspiration?
Usually, I look inward, stealing bits and pieces from my own life. Like Alex in FAKING 19, I was raised by a single mom and we struggled financially, like Rio in ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, I know what it’s like to be the new girl and have all the other girls hate you, like Hailey, in FLY ME TO THE MOON, I was also a flight attendant who lived in NYC, and after losing three people I loved in a five month period and facing the serious diagnosis of two others, Echo’s story in SAVING ZOÃ‹ came pouring out of me. I wrote that book in two and a half weeks, typing night and day then spent another two to three months revising it, which made for a pretty cathartic experience! Though sometimes, it’s just an idea that appeals to me and I want to learn more about, like my upcoming paranormal, EVERMORE.