Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I had the privilege of meeting debut novelist Daisy Whitney (whose book THE MOCKINGBIRDS will be released in November--preorder it here!) in California earlier this year. Ms. Whitney is smart, gorgeous, fierce--and, as this interview proves--just the kind of brave and kick-ass female I like to know and emulate. She was gracious enough to agree to an interview with me...Check it out, below, and find out why I have such a girl crush on her!
1. Hi, Daisy! Tell us a little something about yourself.
I have five pairs of blue shoes, which represents only 10% of my shoe collection, a number that seems both terribly excessive and wholly insufficient; I prefer movies that have kissing scenes and talking animals in them, though not interspecies kissing; I have an obscene tolerance for caffeine and am confident I could go toe to toe with anyone in a caffeine consumption contest; and I love my family, my friends, my dog, reading, writing and adverbs.
2. When did you start writing? Have you always wanted to write a novel?
I’ve been a reporter for print, TV and the Web for the last 15 years so have been writing on deadline pretty much since graduating from college. But for the longest time, I adamantly maintained that I was the ONLY journalist who had no interest in writing the Great American Novel. Then I started reading chick lit in 2004 and eventually I said, “I want to write this too.” I wrote chick lit first (unpubbed) before writing The Mockingbirds, my first young adult novel.
3. Do you have a routine when you write? Is there anything you must have with you?
Ideally, copious amount of green tea and my beloved Mac! I write every day, usually in the evenings after my kids go to bed, but I also seize any extra time in my schedule to write so I write on airplanes, while waiting in the doctor’s office, on the ferry, I have even written in the back of a cab and while parked in my car while waiting for my son’s school to let out for the day. I truly believe that if you want something badly you have to make time for it and that time is always there to be found.
4. Was the title of The Mockingbirds an intentional reference/shout-out to To Kill A Mockingbird? If so, can you explain?
Absolutely! The teenagers who form the Mockingbirds - a secret society of students who have created their own underground justice system to right the wrongs of their peers — take the name from To Kill a Mockingbird because it’s the canonical story of justice and doing the right thing. That book has so much to say about making hard decisions and standing up for what’s right in the face of so much opposition.
5. The beginning of the book is so gripping, and it deals realistically with an unfortunately prevalent issue. How did you decide to write a book about date rape? Was it a conscious decision, in other words?
Writing about date rape was a very deliberate decision because I was date raped my freshman year of college. It’s twenty years later and I am very much healed, but the experience is still a profound one. I successfully pressed charges in my university’s disciplinary system and that experience of standing up and speaking out contributed greatly to my own ability to move forward. But speaking out is very challenging and that’s why I wanted to show that speaking up for yourself can occur in many different ways. The prevalence of date rape is astounding too. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), 1 in 6 women will be a victim of sexual assault during her lifetime and girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Also, half of the reported date rapes occur among teenagers, according to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. BUT, while adults want to believe a teen would come to them for help, teens are more likely to turn to a peer. According to a study conducted by The Northern Westchester Shelter, with Pace Women’s Justice Center, about 83% of 10th graders said they would sooner turn to a friend for help with dating abuse than a teacher, counselor, parent or other caring adult.
6. Talk a little about the cover process. Were you involved at all?
Ah, the myth that authors have any say over their covers! My editor showed me cover comps throughout the process and I was able to give feedback on the elements I liked. The final cover design features a blue and yellow bird and the blue matches all my blue shoes! Hurrah!
7. What are you working on now?
I am ABOUT to turn in book 2 in The Mockingbirds! Whew! It’s been a thrilling and exhausting writing experience and I hope the storyline will continue to challenge readers’ assumptions about how teenagers can become the kind of people who take a stand for right and wrong. Once I turn that in I am going to return to revising a standalone novel I hope to sell next that takes place in Manhattan and is very edgy, sexy, romantic and mysterious!
8. What's your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?
My least favorite part is when I re-read the dreck of the first draft that I actually at one point thought was good. I call it the “lie of the first draft.” We writers always think our first drafts are fabulous, but they are not. That gets me to my favorite part — the revising. I love ripping the book apart and stitching it back together in a much better way as it comes alive under editorial vision and guidance.
9. Tell us something random, now!
I read US magazine cover to cover each week and learned in a recent feature how to pose better for pictures! Hands on waist, elbows back a bit, stand slightly angled to the side. Best skinny shot!
EVERYONE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE MOCKINGBIRDS WHEN IT COMES OUT!! (And btw--that is the best way to get a skinny shot!)