I'm excited to have friend Sydney Salter, who is no stranger to terrific YA - she first came out with MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS. She's here today to spill secrets on her brand new release, SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK. (And see giveaway details below!)
Welcome, Sydney! (Readers, check out previous Story Secrets here.)
You’d think Polly Martin would have all the answers when it comes to love—after all, her grandmother is the famous syndicated advice columnist Miss Swoon. But after a junior year full of dating disasters, Polly has sworn off boys. Now she’s just trying to survive her summer job at Wild Waves western-themed water park (under the supervision of ex #3 Sawyer Holmes) and focus on herself for once.
So tell us the truth - what is the story behind the story, Sydney?
After watching more than one friend morph her interests to match her man de jour, I decided to write about a girl who didn’t really know herself because she was always letting boys dictate her hobbies and pastimes. I also thought it would be fun to write about someone who worked at a water park. And then there was the cute skateboarder who kept winding down my street each morning… Throw in our family boat trip during a scary thunderstorm and I had enough to write a novel.
I'm amazed you wrote this in a little over a month - how did that happen?
Even though I hadn’t intended to participate in NaNoWriMo in 2008, my editor approved my SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK synopsis on Halloween so I decided to jump right in the next day. I finished the first draft by the second week in December—I sure had to use my imagination to write about all that swimming and sunshine!
With a publishing deadline, I didn’t have time to let my usual critique partners read the manuscript. My mom gave it a quick read-through and so did my teenage daughter, but then it was off to my agent and editor. That felt really strange since I’d lived with my other books for months and years before publication.
So how did mismatched shoes play into this story?
One morning, I headed off to my critique group meeting unsure about what I’d write about later that afternoon. I had no idea what exactly would happen next in the story, but I had 1,666 words to write that day. When I pulled into the bookstore parking lot, I noticed several mismatched shoes on the ground near an overturned grocery cart. I joked to my friends about putting them into my novel. Well, I did, and it turned into one of my favorite scenes: grocery cart races!
Inspiration or perspiration?
While I do experience moments of inspiration—a flash on insight that sheds brighter light on a dim idea—I’m mostly a perspiration writer. I’ve learned that I get a whole lot more accomplished if I park myself at my desk for a few hours every day than if I wait for the mood to strike. I do like to try new things, travel to new places, and make new friends so that I have plenty of material to draw upon.
Do you share your work with anyone, or is it top secret?
I don’t like to talk too much about my ideas. Since I’ve been writing synopses for my agent, I have started sharing ideas with my close family members and my critique group (we’ve been together for eight years). I never used to share my works-in-progress until I’d completed a solid first draft, but with my most recent story I shared my new chapters so I could get immediate feedback and create a cleaner first draft. I guess you could say that I’m becoming better at sharing—just don’t ask me for a bite of my brownie (I’m still not good at sharing my chocolate!).
How have your own experiences played into writing SWOON?
Relationships are at the heart of SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK—and I used a lot of my own life experiences to create those dynamics. I know how difficult it can be to have close relationships with a divorced parent; I have lived with three generations of women under one roof (lots of drama!); and I know how scary falling in love can feel when you don’t want to get hurt. But I also know that it’s totally worth the risk!
Secrets to spill?
*whispers* I don’t have any ex-boyfriends. Although I experienced plenty of boy drama in high school, I married my first official boyfriend. We met during my first week at college and it just worked. I feel like I know a lot about relationships, having been in one for most of my life, but I’ve never experienced a breakup.
And here's the trailer for SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK:
SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK GIVEAWAY:
For a chance to win, leave a comment below on either a) whether you've ever matched your likes/dislikes to a boyfriend or girlfriend or b) your best or worst story that took place while wearing a bathing suit (I can think of a few!). Deadline is 5pm PST Monday, please include a way to contact you. And may the best swoon win!