Ivy Hopper is a teen columnist who talks with authors and fans of books that are currently being read by today’s youth. This week she talks with vibes writer Amy Kathleen Ryan.
Here’s an excerpt from vibes:
“It isn’t easy being able to read minds – guys’ minds, especially. Gusty Peterson, the hottest boy in school, is always thinking I’m sick, as in totally gross to look at. Not that it matters, since I don’t have a crush on him or anything. And Mallory, my first real friend since forever, has disturbing, romantic ideas about me bouncing in his brain.
“Even worse, scrawny Jacob has bizarre fantasies about decorating my ginormous gazungas with mascarpone cheese. Ask me if I’d rather not know these things.
I’d probably be a lot better off if I weren’t psychic after all…”
Ivy: Where did the idea come from to write vibes?
Amy: Hmm. I was reading the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and he uses telepathy in such an interesting way in that book. Being psychic hardly helps the Martians out. In fact, it makes their lives and relationships much more complicated. Then I read Jane Austen’s Emma, which is about a teenage girl who thinks she knows everything. I thought, “What about a psychic teenage girl who thinks she knows everything.” vibes came out of that.
Ivy: How long did it take you to write this?
Amy: I wrote vibes pretty quickly, actually, in about four months. It poured out of me. That was a great experience.
Ivy: Who was your favorite character to write about?
Amy: I love Kristi and how snarky she is. She says the things I would never say. When you don’t worry about being nice, you can be a lot wittier, I’ve found. It was kind of freeing to write about someone who lets herself be mean. But that also left plenty of room for Kristi to grow into a better person, which ultimately makes her a happier person.
Ivy: How did you come up with the characters in the book?
Amy: I’m not sure there’s a writer on earth who can answer this question. Characters seem to materialize out of thin air as I’m writing them. Only after I’ve finished the book can I look back on it and see snippets of people I know in my characters. It takes a lot of distance for me to have that kind of perspective on them.
Ivy: How much of this is your real life?
Amy: I don’t have much in common with Kristi, though I used to sew my own clothes like Kristi does. What I use in my writing really are my emotions, and my ability to imagine deeply what it would be like to be in someone else’s skin. I’m not so good at doing this with real people, ironically. But I can do it with the characters I create.
Ivy: What did it feel like the day you got the call from your agent saying a publisher wanted to publish your book?
Amy: It felt wonderful. I went to a designer boutique and bought two new pairs of shoes, then my husband and I went out for a very fancy dinner at a French restaurant.
Ivy: Did you sell on just chapters and outline?
Amy: No, I sent the whole manuscript. I prefer to have only one cook in the kitchen. Sending in partials gives editors too many opportunities to direct where the story should go, and this doesn’t help my creative process at all. I’m pretty sure my editor would prefer to see entire manuscripts too, so she doesn’t have to make any guesses about where the story is going.
Ivy: How is it working with your editor?
Amy: My editor is awesome, and I’m not just saying that because she’s kind of my boss. She’s really a great person and a great reader. She helps me make my books better.
Ivy: Is your editor nurturing?
Amy: Nurturing? That word is too motherly. She’s just wise, and knows when to push me and when to leave me be.
Ivy: Is this your first book?
Amy: Vibes is my second novel. My first was called Shadow Falls, which came out in 2005 from Delacort Press.
Ivy: Is there a sequel?
Amy: Not right now. But you never know.
Ivy: How did you feel when you saw your book in stores for the first time?
Amy: I felt wonderful. Its kind of a surreal experience to see my name on a real live book. It’s funny, though, how much about life doesn’t change. I’m not famous, no one recognizes me on the street, and I’m certainly not rich. Mostly being published changed me on the inside, gave me more confidence, and more of a feeling that I am on the right path for me.
Ivy: Does your family treat you differently now that you are an author?
Amy: Nope, and I wouldnt want them to. Though I think they are all proud of me.
Ivy: What age were you hoping would read this book?
Amy: My goal is always to write a book anyone of any age would want to read.
Ivy: What is your writing process?
Amy: I sit down every day and try to write out five pages. That takes me a few hours. I usually can finish a manuscript in six months, but revision takes much longer.
Ivy: What is next for you as an author?
Amy: My next book is Zen and Xander Undone, which will be released in May 2010. It’s about two sisters who are very different. One is a slutty scientific genius, and the other is a ‘good girl’ with a black belt in karate. They go on a journey to solve a mystery about their deceased mother.
Ivy: How old were you when you started writing?
Amy: I started writing stories for fun almost as soon as I could read well. I did this on and off all through childhood and adulthood until I finally got serious enough to be a real writer.
Ivy: What do you want readers to leave VIBES with?
Amy: I want them to understand that their perceptions of other people can sometimes be wildly inaccurate, and that they should try not to make assumptions about other people. Life is much more fun that way.
Ivy: What is your website address?
Ivy: Anything else that you want to comment on?
Amy: No, except to say thank you for the interview and to keep reading!