Thursday, November 17, 2011

CROSSED Interview and Giveaway!

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Ally earlier this year and can say with certainty that she is one of the nicest, kindest people I know--and she writes beautiful books on top of that! I'm also pleased to say that today we're a part of the CROSSED blog tour--which includes a SIGNED copy of CROSSED for one reader! 

You guys know I love the full-monty when it comes to online stuff, so be sure to check out the CROSSED trailer here--it's one of the best book trailers I've ever seen. You can Get Matched at the Facebook app here, and find out cool MATCHED facts here. Finally, be sure to check out the (beautiful!) dedicated website for MATCHED here.

Now, on to the interview! And don't forget to enter for a signed copy of CROSSED at the end!

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I don’t think most people have heard this story:

When I was in college I had the biggest crush on my husband but all the other girls in our dorm thought he was cute, too. He was this really sweet, funny, athletic guy who also played guitar. So I had to find a way to get his attention. I knew he was a runner so I dared him to run a marathon with me. Of course, that meant that we “had” to go running together almost every day. We ran our first marathon together back October of 1999. Two weeks later, he proposed, and seven weeks after that, we got married. So it totally worked. ;) 

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
Growing up, my favorite novel was Anne of Green Gables. I read that book thirty-two times (I know because I marked the inside cover of the paperback every time I finished). I wanted to be Anne so badly! I still love that book and books like it (plucky heroines, gorgeous settings, etc.). But now I also read more science fiction and fantasy than I once did.

In the MATCHED books, Cassia starts her journey towards freedom from the Society in part because of a poem (“Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas). Is there a poem or book that helped define you the way this poem defines Cassia?
There’s a novel called Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner that my grandmother gave me to read at some point in high school. When I read it, I was blown away by how much I cared for the characters and by the beauty of Stegner’s writing. I’ve read the novel several times since—in college during a senior course on Stegner, during the time my husband was in grad school, after I had my second baby, etc. It’s the kind of book you read over and over again and, each time, you are taken with its beauty and torn apart by its truth. Crossing to Safety is a book I encountered when I was young and that I’ll continue to re-read for the rest of my life. This novel changed the way I looked at reading, writing, and myself, and that happens again each time I revisit the book.

And a question from Twitter: What’s your favorite cupcake flavor?
Ooh, good question. I think lemon. I’m on a big citrus kick lately. Perhaps because winter has arrived here in Utah!
I’ve loved learning about the influences from the real world that created the world of MATCHED, such as being inspired by Zion canyon. But Twitter (and I!) want to know: how did you come up with the idea for The Society?
I often say that I got the idea for the Society from my own experience being a parent. It’s really hard to know when to take control and when to step back. I definitely struggle with that issue—when do good intentions and protective instincts stop helping and start inhibiting? In my mind, the Society did start out with the best of intentions but then started holding on more and more tightly.

How was writing CROSSED different from writing MATCHED? (Having just gotten off the sequel-writing train myself, I’d love to learn from your wisdom or share in your misery!)
Oh, Beth, you are so awesome. I have no wisdom. Every book is such a different beast from the one before and I am coming to realize I know very little about anything. Writing CROSSED was different from writing MATCHED for a lot of reasons. I added Ky’s point of view, gave the novel an entirely different setting, etc. CROSSED was both the easiest and hardest book I’ve ever written. It was easy because I cared deeply about the characters, I knew the setting, and I knew how integral this journey was to the rest of the series. It was difficult because I wanted so badly to get it right.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from CROSSED, what would you want it to be?
 Honestly, I just want them to enjoy the book and to find something in it that they feel rings true to them, to their own life or experience. I always love it when I read a book and think, Yes. This is how I feel too. If I reader feels that when reading something I’ve written, that is the ultimate compliment.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
Hmmm. I think that happened back in 2006 with the publication of my first book. I learned that publication did not change me as much as I thought it would—I think I imagined that, upon publication, I would feel different. But I didn’t really. My work was still my work. My family was still my family. I was still myself. Of course, it was beyond awesome to see my book on a shelf and to have people actually reading my story!

I think that what I didn’t realize until after it happened was that publication didn’t change me—but the writing itself does. I hope that makes sense.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
 Don’t forget to live your life. Don’t let writing become your life.

At the end of the day, when I go to sleep, I now and then will think, “Today was such a great writing day!” But usually it’s the other things that are on my mind and on my heart. My kids, my husband, my parents, etc., and how they’re all doing. Those are the things that are really my life. My work is deeply, deeply important to me and feels very real to me. But if it were all I had, I would be very lonely.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I think my weakest point is that I never outline. (I do take lots of notes—for example, when I started Book 3 in the Matched Trilogy, I had 150 pages of notes and ideas from the first two books to use in Book 3, but no formal outline.) I’ve tried to outline but it always ends up being completely ineffective because I end up deviating so much from the outline. But if I could do that well, it would probably save me so much grief later—when writing sequels, for example! ;)

I think my strongest point is that I really care about character development. I want my characters to feel and act very real. I want them to change and grow in important ways, to do interesting things.

Thank you, Ally, for sharing your thoughts and ideas here!

And thank you, Penguin, for providing readers today with a SIGNED copy of CROSSED for one lucky winner! 

In order to thank Penguin for providing the prize, I included ways to get extra entries for the giveaway by following or tweeting Penguin Teen. It's totally optional, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to thank Penguin for giving the prize.

And meanwhile, here's something for everyone: you can read the first two chapters of CROSSED here!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading here:


Sarah Allen said...

I can never resist a giveaway :)


Amy said...

Love a giveaway! :)

Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR said...

Thanks so much for the informative interview and the giveaway! :)

Valia Lind said...

Great interview!!! And thanks for the giveaway! :) The last question def sounds like me! lol

Miss Bookiverse said...

Thanks so much for adding a giveaway to this great interview :)

Anonymous said...

Beth, I've been reading Ally's Blog Tour "stops" and this interview was the best! Great job! I just got to meet Ally when she came to Atlanta last week and got my signed copy so I won't enter the contest. She was so down-to-earth and a pleasure to me--just like you!

--Amy in Atlanta

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome interview. I love how Ally created a new setting and added new characters in Crossed. I'd love to win.

CookieMonster said...

Wow thank you so much for the giveaway! It would be such an honor to win: good luck everyone! :)

Celeste said...

Thanks for the great giveaway!

Abby Fowers said...

Wonderful interview and giveaway! I am dying to read this! Thanks so much for telling us more about Ally today :)

The More the Merrier said...

I feel the same way about outlining, though it would be helpful I was never able to do it. Luckily I got my papers written w/o an outline. Great interview thanks for the chance to win.

dashofnutmeg said...

What fantastic giveaway!
I'm entering the contest on my phone and I accidentally clicked submit before I could enter my twitter name! I hope I won't get disqualified. (I'm @exhalaient on twitter).

Chrystal said...

Oops started to fill this out before i realized it's US only - you can take my name out of the entries. :(