Tag: Confessions of a YA Writer

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Teen Speak

April 25, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

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By Alyson Noel

Last Saturday, I took part in an author panel where I was asked—How do you write in such an authentic teen voice? I expected you to be fourteen!

To which I replied—But I am fourteen.

I wasn’t lying, wasn’t trying to be coy about my age or revive a well-worn punch line, because the truth is, for better or worse, deep down inside I’m still stuck in adolescence. I mean, sure I can legally drive, vote, and drink (though not all at once). But just because I have a standing appointment at my hair salon where it takes two hours to recreate the color of my youth, just because, through some enormous fluke, I ended up with a house, a husband, and a handful of credit cards—the usual trappings of a grown up life—that doesn’t mean I’m an adult.

I never feel grown up. I’m not even sure what it means. Grown ups used to be my parents, teachers, and characters I watched on TV. A grown up was June Cleaver with her sweater sets and pearls tucked neatly beneath her apron, a grown up was Lauren Bacall exchanging witty, sophisticated banter with Humphrey Bogart in the old black and white movies my mom made us watch on rainy Sunday afternoons. A grown up always wore shoes that matched her handbag. A grown up was able to make her point without ever resorting to slang.

I don’t own an apron. I live in flip-flops or Frye boots depending on the season, and carry whichever purse holds all of my stuff. I blast my stereo when I drive, singing at the top of my lungs, like I did at sixteen. I over use words like totally and awesome, and when I’m especially enthusiastic am known to say, totally awesome! I still get rock star crushes. I still act immature and giddy when I’m with my friends. I still struggle with a problematic T-zone.

So you can see how getting inside a teenager’s head isn’t all that big of a stretch.

Though I do remember back when I was an authentic teen, back in the days when everyone over twenty-five seemed old, thirty tragically old, and forty downright ancient. And how my mom tried to explain it, telling me how despite the accumulation of birthday candles and wrinkles, deep down inside, she still felt like a kid. And how every time she caught her own reflection, she couldn’t help but think—who’s that old lady?

At the time, I just laughed, thinking she was, well, old.

But now I know she was right. Because depending on the day, I’m 14, 16, or at the very most—25. But rarely, if ever, do I feel grown up.

What about you? To quote my favorite birthday card—How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was? And how does it shape what you write?

Alyson Noel is the author of Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Fly Me to the Moon, and the upcoming Kiss & Blog (May 2007). You can visit her at: www.alysonnoel.com

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What’s new in YA

March 26, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

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By Alyson Noël

I have a confession to make– I rarely read the genre I’m writing in. And since I’ve been writing women’s fiction and YA this means I’m reading a whole lot of non-fiction, while my TBR pile multiplies. But recently, when I was asked to blurb an upcoming teen title, I made an exception, and I’m so glad I did.

Renee Rosen’s debut novel, EVERY CROOKED POT (St. Martin’s Griffin/July 07), is a nostalgic look at the 70’s, telling the story of Nina Goldman, the youngest of three growing up in Akron, Ohio, with her eccentric, larger-than-life farther, Artie, a colorblind carpet salesman with dreams of being a musician.

Growing up as Artie’s daughter is hard enough, but Nina has other issues to deal with, like the strawberry birthmark that covers her eye, setting her apart and making her the object of school yard taunts and derision. When visits to an out of state dermatologist fail, she turns to make-up and extreme hairstyles in an attempt to blend in. And when the cute and popular McFadden brothers move next door, she goes to even greater lengths to be loved and accepted.

With, EVERY CROOKED POT, Rosen has crafted a realistic, sharp, touching, and funny story, perfectly capturing what it’s like to be stuck on the outside, longing to get in. Writing a blurb for this book was hard, because it’s just that good, and not easily summed up in one catchy phrase. I highly recommend this beautifully written debut novel for anyone who loves a good coming of age story.

Alyson Noël is the author of the teen novels, FAKING 19, ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, LAGUNA COVE, and the upcoming KISS & BLOG (May 07) and SAVING ZOE (Sept 07). Her debut adult novel, FLY ME TO THE MOON, was released in Jan 07. You can visit her at- www.alysonnoel.com

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Alyson Noël: Why I Write

August 31, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

Recently I attended a birthday bash (and I mean BASH!) for a very good friend of mine. And somewhere in the midst of all the laughter, small talk, and fun, someone asked if I chose to write teen fiction because I have such fond memories of high school.

To which I instinctively balked. “God no. It was horrible! I mean, you couldn’t pay me to go back!” This was followed by vehement head shaking and possibly even a dramatic shudder or two.

And then my husband looked at me, nudged me in the arm, and said, “Um, honey, but are being paid to go back.”

Oh.

So maybe he’s right. In fact, I guess it’s pretty obvious he is. And now that it was out there, spoken like a fact, it got me wondering just exactly what I was thinking when I chose to make my living writing about a time in my life which I didn’t particularly enjoy, and at times, actually found quite painful. I mean, since graduation I’d done so many other things, lived in so many other places, so what could be the reason for all this? Am I a masochist?

Luckily, no.

Because now that I find myself smack dab in the middle of the inevitable piling up of years between then and now, I can finally look back on those times and view certain events with far more clarity, and much more objectivity than I ever could’ve mustered up before. And the simple truth is, that those years shape and inform you in more ways than you think, and that the adult you later become owes a huge debt to the person you were back then.

Whether you hated high school (like me) and tend to use that time as a catalyst to get the heck out and carve a more suitable place for yourself somewhere else, or you look back at it fondly, (hard for me to believe but these people do exist) and strive to recreate that feeling wherever you go from there, there’s simply no denying that those years make an impact, and are not easily forgotten.

Last year brought the untimely death of my husband’s twin brother, who’d battled pancreatic cancer for a year and a half, (and to whom I’ve also dedicated my third novel, Laguna Cove, as well as to the son and daughter he so sadly left behind). And while I won’t even attempt to find the words to describe this completely devastating time, I will say that when news of his passing reached a group of their former junior high school friends, they sprang into action, organizing an impromptu memorial in Richard’s memory.

I held my husband’s hand as we walked into the house where several of his old friends waited, where we flipped through old photos, skimmed over yearbooks, ate hot pizza, drank red wine, laughed at fond memories, and eventually released a stream of red balloons, watching as they drifted off into the evening sky, bidding a silent farewell.

Some of these people drove a long distance, some even boarded an airplane just so they could be there. For us, the trip was a mere hour and forty-five minutes up the 405. And as I sat beside my husband, leaning into his shoulder, listening to old stories, told by a diverse group of junior high school friends who hadn’t seen each other in the thirty years that had passed, I thought about my own old circle of friends, and how even though we may not speak all that often, I’m happy to say that quite a few of them are still in my life.

I guess I write teen fiction because it’s the last time you feel so protected yet yearn to be free, you want to fit in but long to find your true self, you hate waking up for school but fear the day when you’ll no longer have to, and you are truly on the verge of so many exciting new “firsts” that you’re in such a hurry to check off, yet you’re also aware that once you do, it’s hard to go back.

But I also write teen fiction to honor the memory of the person I was then, as well as the friends who stood beside me, and who were far more important than I realized at the time.

A few days ago, my husband received a phone call from an old summer camp buddy he hadn’t heard from in years. Apparently this guy had been reminiscing about his old group of tight knit friends, and was planning a reunion so they can all get together again.

By the time my husband hung up, he’d already RSVP’d.

Alyson Noël
“Laguna Cove” a new novel by Alyson Noel
www.alysonnoel.com
www.myspace.com/alysonnoel
www.alysonnoel.blogspot.com

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