It's almost the end of Impromptu Author Interview Month here at Librarilly Blonde, so I'm going out with a bang. Today's interview features the awesome Siobhan Vivian. Her first book, A Little Friendly Advice, has received praise from sites like Teenreads.com and Slayground. Although I'm not yet running a review of her Spring '09 novel, Same Difference (pictured above), do keep an eye out for it. Read on to learn about Siobhan's thoughts on writing, bad boys, and her plans for the future.
Carlie Webber: First, three cheers for a fellow Jersey girl! You're from NJ and now live in NY but your first novel, A Little Friendly Advice, is set in Ohio. What inspired you to set it there?
Siobhan Vivian: Oh Jersey, how I love ye!
It’s funny—during my MFA program, all my novels-in-progress were set in New Jersey. So when I started working on ALFA during my last semester of school, I was in great need of some new scenery.
I ultimately chose Akron, Ohio because I have a few close friends who live there, and I’d spent quite a bit of time visiting them, so I felt I had the lay of the land pretty much down. Also, Akron is a rad town! It has so many cool places—like Square Records and Revival and the weird old movie house—but it’s almost completely unaware of its coolness. Having lived in a few “flashy” cities, I found that lack of pretension refreshing. I also loved the disparity of wealth within the town and, of course, the humungous opulent rubber mansions. They are all old and charming and individual, not like the McMansions you always read about nowadays.
CW: Your second novel, Same Difference, is out in galley now and will be published in the spring of 2009. Tell us what it's about.
SV: Same Difference is the story of a girl named Emily who struggles with having two different identities/personalities—whether she’s in her typical suburban hometown with the best friend she’s grown up with, or having creatively inspiring adventures in Philadelphia with a super cool, wild new girl whom she befriends in a summer art class. Eventually, those two worlds collide, leaving Emily to try and figure out who she really is.
CW: How was writing your second novel different (or the same?) as writing your first?
SV: Same Difference is a very personal story, which made writing the emotional component a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. I also expected to feel confident with my writing this time around, having one published novel under my belt. Umm. Not. That state of mind set me up for a lot of angst and turmoil. Seriously, this book nearly killed me.
CW:You have a background in art. What parts of your art education did you incorporate into Same Difference?
SV: I had attended a pre-college arts program exactly like Emily’s during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, and it changed my life. I drew endlessly on those experiences for Same Difference, including my very first time seeing Duchamp at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After graduating high school, I returned to that university for undergraduate study…and also began to teach within the pre-college program.
CW: Everyone always talks about the appeal of the "bad boy" in YA lit, but your boys tend to be more "good boys." Why do the boys and boyfriends in your novels tend to be more artsy than bad-boy?
SV: Hmmm. This is a great question. I think I write “good boys” because, for me, the romantic component of a YA novel is usually the least interesting. I’m much more fascinated by the dynamics between girls, and the way friendships can evolve and change. Also, in my own experience growing up, I was way more emotional about my friends than I was about boyfriends. It was beat endlessly into my head – boyfriend come and go, but friendships are what really matter. When I’m reading a story about a “bad boy”, I tend to lose patience and sympathy for the main character. I keep my boys nice and artsy, so they can add fuel to the self-discovering journey of my main characters, but not steal the show from what I think are more high stakes situations and relationships.
CW: All authors who get interviewed in this blog must answer this question: What's one book, written by someone else, that you wish you had written?
SV: Easy. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, by E. Lockhart.
CW:What's one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you started your writing career?
SV: That writing doesn’t get easier. In fact, it shouldn’t get easier, if you’re really pushing yourself.
CW: What are you working on now, and what are your writing plans for the more distant future?
SV: I’m working on a new YA called Past Perfect. It’s about a girl’s evolving relationship with the brother she’s always idolized, discovering your sexuality, and being okay with your flaws.
As for the future, I’d like to continue writing YA novels, and hopefully carve out a nice and loyal audience for myself, so that the Powers That Be will continue to publish me. I’m also kicking around a few film and television ideas that I hope to spend some time developing. Basically, these last two years of being a full-time writer have been the most satisfying and creatively stimulating of my life. I want more more more.
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