A bit about Gwen:
Gwen Hayes lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero, their children, and the pets that own them. She writes books for teen readers about love, angst, and saving the world.
Baffled by the fact that not everyone has people talking to each other in their head all the time, Gwen decided maybe she should start writing down what they say. She told her family she wanted to be a writer in 2007, they all nodded, and the adventures began.
You can also find Gwen every other Friday at The Fictionistas, the coolest YA blog in the whole universe, and just about every day she's tweeting something nonsensical on her Twitter page. She also keeps her blog updated with the latest news.
I'm pretty sure I'd be Mexi-Tots. I know you expected something super sexy like a tamale or an enchilada--but I'm really a tater tot kind of girl at heart.
On twitter, you talk a lot about a guy in a top hot. Can you explain what’s going with that? Oh...Top Hat Guy. I used to try and do my homework in the student lounge at my local community college. Everyday, this guy would hang out with his friends and he always wore a top hat. And a vest. So, he was all jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, waistcoat, and top hat. Since Haden and Theia meet when Haden was wearing a top hat, I took special interest in this guy. Instead of actually doing my homework, I found myself chronicling his antics. Like the day he took off his hat and had top-hat hair. For the record, I wrote Haden years before I ever saw Top Hat Guy and Top Hat Guy, while very interesting, is no Haden Black.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
You mean aside from Twitter, chronicling random strangers, and an unholy obsession with tater tots? Haven't you outed me enough? You're tougher than Barbara Walters. I like Barry Mannilow. There. Are you happy now?
Everyone’s journey into writing is different. Tell us about yours. Was it something you always wanted to do or did it just happen?
I thought I might like to write when I was a teenager, but I never really pursued it. It wasn't until 2007 that I got serious. On March 1, 2007, I joined a writer's forum. On March 1, 2011, my first NY title will be published. How's that for symmetry?
What are your 6 favorite books —and why?
A Wrinkle in Time--it has everything and Meg is the quintessential YA heroine. This books stands the test of time and Madeleine L'Engle was a very gifted author.
A Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood--this book taught me why being a woman is important to me--and the world. It was the first time I really thought about what feminism is to me because it was the first time I thought about what would happen if I had no rights.
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie--I am an unabashed lover of romance novels. I like happy endings. This book had everything I love about the genre in spades.
Years by LaVyrle Spencer--I really like historical novels. This suited my grown up tastes the way Laura Ingalls Wilder suited my childhood penchant for historicals. Except this one has way more kissing.
TBD--Picking six favorites is soooo hard. So many books touch me in different ways. I keeping this spot open for a book I haven't read yet.
What is one piece of advice that you were given as a writer that is important enough to pass on to other writers?
Read. Never stop reading. Read in your genre, read outside of your genre, read books you hate and books you love.
What is your writing process like and how do you keep focused?
What is this word "focus"? I am not a plotter. I do not know what happens in the sequel to Falling Under any more than you do. Seriously, I'm about 1/3 of the way in and I couldn't tell you what happens next. It unfolds as I write it. Sometimes, I write scenes out of order, but that is the closest I get to planning ahead. I listen to music, play solitaire (or Tweet) and think really hard, then I write a couple hundred words and do it again. I write fairly slowly, but my draft is also fairly clean.
How did the idea for Falling Under develop in your head?
It was awful at first--I fought this book for awhile but it literally haunted me. The first line was stuck in my head for days and I had no idea what it meant. I was busy trying to write romantic comedies and it wouldn't leave me alone. I finally just stopped what I was doing and wrote down that line--and then the first scene. And then some more. And I kept telling my writer friends how weird this story was, but they all got excited and told me to keep writing. Eventually, I realized they were right--but it was a departure from my writing style for sure.
What were the best/hardest scenes to write?
I like writing the kissing scenes the best. The hardest are...all the other scenes. Her kissing scenes are the most amazing scenes I've EVER read. Really. They were....wow.)
Did you do any research for your writing? If so, what are some things that you pulled from?
I did do some twists on some myths--the mare is a folklore in many cultures, for instance. The thing I like about paranormal research is that you can get inspiration from folklore, myth, literature, art...and then do whatever you want with it. It's not like I'm going to get strongly worded letters from a vampire for totally screwing up my portrayal of his lifestyle, you know? I also use the internet for inspirational pictures for characters, what they wear, how they style their hair, what their house looks like--but I'm not exactly organized. Seriously--going over my answers regarding research and my writing process I realize I am not the author you want to emulate. I'm like the Warning Poster for Authors.
Theia turns into a strong and independent character. What was it like getting to know her? Did any of your own experiences play into her growth?
I really don't think so. I mean, we've all felt at one point or another that we were isolated and alone--but Theia deals with things differently than I would in just about every scene. Getting to know her has been such a challenge for me. There were days when I totally offered Haden a chance to go after Amelia instead. Of course, he declined.
The world of Under is really vivid and terrifying. Without giving too much away, where did the idea for that world come from?
Under really is creepy. I'm not sure I want to know how I created that world or where the idea came from. I'm sort of in denial that I can be that deranged, frankly.
Theia meets Haden when he appears in her dreams. Have any extremely hot and dangerous guys in a top hat visited you in a dream lately?
Thankfully, no. Hot, dangerous guys in top hats bring lots of trouble to your life.
What is one thing you want people to know about Falling Under if that’s all they ever get to know?
The heart is very complicated and your soul is the most beautiful thing in the world. Wait, that's two things.
Anything you want to add?
Thanks for having me on your blog! I had a great time answering these questions--even the hard ones.
Thank YOU Gwen, for writing a great book and doing an interview!
The amazing people at NAL sent me a finished copy of Falling Under to give to one of you lovely readers! If you comment on this interview and/or the book review you get an extra entry for each comment. US/Canada only. You don't have to be a follower. The contest ends February 27th!
Click here to fill out the official entry form.
If you're interested, Gwen is also the author of a short-story called Butterface which you can by at Amazon or Smashwords for like, $1. It too is a great story!
Don't miss Falling Under. March 1.