July 27, 2011

Interview with Taylor Morris and GIVEAWAY

Yesterday I was able to review the tween book BFF Break up by Taylor Morris.  A good book about that dreaded fear of losing your BFF.  Today I get the pleasure of sharing her answers to some questions I was able to ask.  Make sure to look below the interview for a two SIGNED book giveaway!

Welcome Taylor Morris to The O.W.L.!!

For BFF Breakup - what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?
In BFF BREAKUP, I’m proud of how I handled the actual fight that led to Brooke and Madeline’s breakup. I wanted to write something that the reader could empathize with from both sides. I didn’t want there to be a hero and a villain. Or even so, perhaps one reader was on Brooke’s side and another was on Madeline’s. I just didn’t want it to be obvious which character was at fault because in the end they both were, in their own ways.

Tell about your writing process. How long did it take you to write BFF Breakup from idea to finish? Please tell about revision is you can!
I started thinking about BFF BREAKUP months before I began writing, which is usually the case. I start with an initial idea—like, How about a story about best friends who get in a huge fight and break up?—and then start thinking about who the characters are, who their friends and family are, what lead them to the fight, what exactly the fight was about, what happens afterward, etc. All that plotting and planning will hopefully make for a better book and an easier write. I thought about BFF BREAKUP for about nine months before I started writing it, and then it took about three months to write. That’s a pretty short writing time but I was on a steep deadline with a series I was about to begin.

Is the story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?
Sadly, yes. My best friend and I had into a huge, ginormous, awful fight that had us not speaking for three years. I assumed we would never talk again. In the meantime, an acquaintance friend of mine got angry at me for something I did and sort of wrote me off and I started to think, What is it about me and girlfriends? Am I a bad friend? Or do I choose bad friends? I looked back on all my friendships and really started to think about it. Then, my best friend and I started talking again—very slowly and tentatively—and I thought that the story of best friends was so simple and yet complex, not to mention relatable that it would be a good story to tell. BFF BREAKUP is not the story of me and my friend, although I can certainly understand the emotions my characters, Brooke and Madeline, experience.

I really think this is something most girls and women can relate to!

Why MG instead of any other grade level?
I have sharp memories from that time in my life so I started from there. When I wrote my first novel, CLASS FAVORITE, I had the main character as 16 but my agent felt like she acted a bit young and asked if I’d consider changing her to 13. And like that, I became a middle grade writer and have had five novels published with more on the way. I’ve written two other books for young adults—one that will never see the light of day, and another that I will edit and resubmit to agents. I’d like to have a hardcover YA book but beyond that, I love writing for and about teenagers and have no plans to stop writing middle grade books. I have no desire to write for adults. 

Ok once the story was done - How much say did you have in the cover of this book? What is the process for creating a cover (my students are always curious about this!)
Absolutely zero say whatsoever. They did email me and ask me what I thought about it but I’m pretty sure it was just a courtesy. For my series, Hello, Gorgeous!, I didn’t even see the cover until it was finalized. Generally speaking, unless you’re some big-selling, fancy author you usually don’t have much say in your book cover. Sometimes the editor will ask if you have an idea for a concept before they begin designing and they might take that into consideration. But the ultimate decision is with the publisher’s art and marketing departments. That’s their job and their strength. Leave the writing to me. (For more on covers, got to Melissa Walker’s blog for Cover Stories where she has authors talk about their experiences with this.)

Now for a nonwriting question that my students are always curious about- What kind of student were you? Was English your favorite subject in school and did you always write?
I was a completely average student! Truly, there was nothing special or outstanding about me. I made average grades, had an average amount of friends, was of average popularity. I did some writing when I was in elementary school (including a 12 page handwritten novel called Love At First Sight, starring two of my classmates) but after that I didn’t do much writing until college. English was definitely my favorite subject—I always liked stories but also I always got As so of course I liked it!

And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? Whoooo are your favorite authors now and when you were growing up?
I read shockingly little growing up. Some Judy Blume in elementary school. In junior high I read the Flowers in the Attic series and for some reason, Drew Barrymore’s autobiography Little Girl Lost. By high school I was reading Gone With the Wind. Other than that, it’s strange to say I wasn’t much of a reader. I loved reading, but I never knew what books to buy or get at the library.

As for authors from today who I admire, I love Maureen Johnson’s wit and Meg Cabot’s humor. Barbara Dee’s middle grade books are adorable and full of heart. The Harry Potter series will always be in my top five—what an incredible writer and storyteller J.K. Rowling is!

Thanks for hanging out with us today!

Now for the giveaway.  
Taylor Morris has provide the first two books in the Hello Gorgeous series: Blowout and Foiled

Now that she's had her thirteenth birthday, Mickey's finally old enough to work at her mother's super glam hair salon-Hello, Gorgeous! And true to the old cliche about people confiding in their hair stylists, Mickey starts getting an earful right off the bat. Customers love talking to her because she's so empathetic, but what happens when she starts getting overly involved in their dramas?

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  1. Sorry for your friend's fight. Fighting is awful.

    I love this interview.

  2. I don't think there is a girl out there who hasn't broken up with their BFF. SO funny to put it that way but more often then not a fight between BFF's can before then with a BF.