Ivy Hopper talks with author Shana Norris/Something to Blog About

Hey girls! Do you feel like no one understands you?
Do you feel like you have no one to talk to? So do I!
Each week I will be speaking to you in my very own teen column.
I’m looking for teen girls to join Ivy Hopper Book Sorority.
You get a free copy of a Young Adult novel that I feature in the paper.
Email me at ivy.hopper@gmail.com to get more information

To debut my teen column – I sat down with young adult author Shana Norris who wrote Something To Blog About.

Here is what Shana Norris had to say to me;

Libby Fawcett decides to start a secret blog so that she can have an outlet to vent her feelings and frustrations. When Seth Jacobs (her crush since eighth grade) witnesses her tragic (and comic) run-in with a Bunsen burner in chemistry class, or when she finds out that her mother is dating the father of her arch-nemesis, Angel Rodriguez, she’s able to keep a level head and make it through school each day with each blog posting. But when her entries get posted all over for the whole world to see, will Libby be able to walk the halls—or face Seth—ever again?

Where did the idea come from to write Something to Blog About?

The idea for Something to Blog About was inspired by my own experiences with online journaling. I first created an online journal when I was sixteen, back before it became known as blogging. When I was in college, some classmates of mine discovered my secret online journal. Thankfully, all of the traumatic things that happen to Libby didn’t happen to me so it wasn’t a huge deal that it was found, but just a little embarrassing! But it was that incident and the idea of what if things had turned out differently from being found out that made me write the book.

How long did it take you to write this?

I wrote the very first draft in exactly three weeks. I don’t usually write that fast though! And revisions took A LOT longer than three weeks.

Who was your favorite character to write about?

Libby and Angel together are my favorite characters. They build off of each other and I couldn’t have one without the other. Libby is fun because she is so dramatic about everything, but Angel is also fun because she’s so snarky.

How did you come up with the characters in the book?

I first created most of the characters when I was about fifteen. I was always writing stories as I grew up and when I was in high school…I decided to write a story about a girl who had this close relationship with her young mom and show how the mom and daughter are really growing and learning together. So I created Libby and her single mom. Libby is a very exaggerated version of myself. I’m not nearly as overdramatic as she is – I don’t think. Angel is just a compilation of the girls like her that I’ve encountered throughout my life. The other characters fell into place in the supporting roles built up around Libby and Angel.

How much of this is your real life?

There are pieces that are inspired by my real life, but nothing in the book is actually my real life. I did have an online journal as a teen that was later discovered by classmates, but it wasn’t quite so traumatic. I grew up with young parents, but mine have been married about thirty years so I didn’t grow up with a single mom, although I have always had a close relationship with my mom like Libby does.

Libby’s close friendship with her cousin Roger is also inspired by my own close relationship with one of my cousins. He’s two months older that I am, so we grew up together and graduated high school together. I also had an incident in kindergarten much like Libby describes at the beginning of the book when telling how Angel’s tormenting of her began but thankfully my bully moved away a couple years later so she couldn’t continue to torment like Angel does!

What did it feel like the day you got the call from your agent saying a publisher wanted to publish your book?

It was one of the best days of my life. We had been sending the manuscript out to editors for seven months and I had done a lot of revisions. I was just about to give up hope. I almost couldn’t believe it when my agent called to say we had an offer. I had to get him to repeat it because I wasn’t sure that he had really said what it sounded like he’d said!

Did you sell on just chapters and outline?

We sold on the full manuscript.

How is it working with your editor?

I love working with my editor! She has great ideas and really knows what she’s doing. She’s very enthusiastic about my writing and very supportive. I would love to keep working with her for a long time! We’re currently working on my second book together.

Is your editor nurturing?

She is a little nurturing in that she helps me with ideas, but I also have to know a lot on my own. Which seems to be working great. I love working with her and she has great ideas that blend into my style of writing without changing my tone.

Is this your first book?

It’s my first published, but not the first book I’ve written. I wrote a lot of books before I got published. Most of them will remain hidden away in my closet though because they’re really, really bad!

Is there a sequel?

Right now, there is not a sequel. I would love to write another book about Libby, but at the moment there are no plans for it.

How did you feel when you saw your book in stores for the first time?

I had this huge grin on my face when I saw the book sitting on the shelf for the first time. I couldn’t help reaching out to run my fingers over the cover. It’s just this feeling of Wow! I still get excited whenever I see it in a bookstore.

Does your family treat you differently now that you are an author?

No way! They’re all proud, of course, but I still go to my day job each day, come home and cook dinner, wash the dishes, clean up after my pets, etc. Everything is still pretty much the same old thing as usual, except every now and then someone brings me a copy of my book that a friend of theirs has just bought and wants me to autograph.

What age were you hoping would read this book?

I’m hoping that middle school and high school students will read the book. Especially ages 12 to 16. But I also  hope readers of any age will enjoy it.

What is your writing process?

I don’t use an outline because I like to discover the story as I write it. The story starts with a very vague idea of the general plot and I usually know how I want the book to end. Sometimes I may know who the main character is, but a lot of times I don’t until I start writing the book. I create the characters and subplots and conflicts as I write, which is a lot of fun for me. I like not knowing what’s going to happen next until I type in into my computer. The only problem is, this means my first drafts are very messy because a lot of times I change my mind about events or characters halfway through the story. So I spend a lot of time revising to make sense of things and cleaning up the story.

What is the next for you as an author?

My second book is called Troy High! It just came out in August.
It’s a fun book and I’m really excited about it. The main character is a girl named Cassie, who is a bit sarcastic and has a lot of problems that pull her in different directions and question her loyalties.

How old were you when you started writing?

I wrote my first book when I was eight. It was a picture book The Lonely Rectangle. It wasn’t very good, but did start my love for writing stories.

What do you want readers to leave Something To Blog About With?

I hope readers leave with a good feeling. Things don’t always work out perfectly and you make mistakes and you may never be friends with your bully, but there are good things and relationships in life that matter a lot more than the bad.

Anything else that you want to comment on?

Writing about Libby and her friends was so much fun and I’ve enjoyed hearing from readers about how much they loved the story. It’s very rewarding for a writer to hear from readers that they related to the characters and the situations they go through.

You can find out more about Shana Norris at: www.shananorris.com

Hey Girls! Make sure to check out my blog that will be up really soon.
I also will have my own website that will be coming your way really soon.

Talk to you next week!
I can be reached at ivy.hopper@gmail.com

Ivy Hopper