Thursday, July 5, 2012

Author Interview: Ride of Your Life by Shevi Arnold

Little Blurb about yourself:

I'm a writer, illustrator, funny lady, and geek goddess. I've been an editorial cartoonist, a consumer columnist, an arts-and-entertainment writer, and a comics editor. Today I write and illustrate books for children and teens. In 2006, I won 3rd place in SmartWriter's Write It Now contest in the YA category, which was judged by Alex Flinn, the author of Beastly and Cloaked. In 2010, I was an ABNA quarter-finalist. Aside from writing and illustrating, my favorite thing in the world is making someone laugh.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved stories. It doesn’t matter what the medium is: books, comics, music, movies, you name it. And I’ve enjoyed telling stories in different mediums for as long as I can remember. I think what inspired me was hearing someone laugh when I told a joke, or seeing the enrapt look on a younger child’s face when I told a story. Creating and telling stories were the only things I wanted to do.

2. How long did it take you to write Ride of Your Life?

I started writing Ride of Your Life in my head after I heard about the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire that killed eight teenagers in 1984. It really affected me, because my family used to have a season’s pass to Great Adventure, and I’d been there many times. I used to like talking with the park’s teenage employees. The victims of the fire had been about my age. It’s possible that I had met and talked to one of them. They were teenagers just like me. In my mind, I wanted to give that awful tragedy a happy ending. I wanted to rewrite it. So I created a fictional theme park and a story that starts years after a similar fire. I only sat down to write it a few years ago, and I finished editing it right before May. The real life fire took place on May 11th, 1984, so you could say this story was 28 years in the making.

3. While writing how many times do you go back and rewrite a plot?

I only rewrite the plot before I sit down to write a book. I have what I like to think of as a little TV in my head. I watch my stories, like I’m watching a movie or a TV show, and I’ll watch my favorite shows over and over. They change with each viewing. Then when I decide that it’s something I would like to write, I write a short outline, followed by a long outline. My favorite scenes--like the climax and the ending--are written out inside the outline. So the plot is fully formed by the time I sit down to write the actual story.

4. You run into a bookstore, where do you go first?
The bargain books section. If I want a particular book, I’ll buy it from Amazon. When I go to a bookstore, though, I want to be surprised. I want to find an unexpected treasure. I love the randomness of the bargain books section. You never know what treasure you’re going to find.

5. How many books in a month do you tend to read?

I don’t know. My husband’s answer would be “too many.” I buy more books than we have space for. I tend to read several books at once, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint. I would guess about four or five.

6. In all the books you've read. Who is your most favorite character and why?

That’s a tough question, because I tend create characters I wish existed in books that were already out there. My favorite characters are Toren the Teller and Gilbert Garfinkle, characters I’ve created myself. If there were already books about magical storytelling girls and heroic super-geeks, I wouldn’t have to write them. But there aren’t, and so I do.

7. State 5 random facts about yourself.

• My favorite movie is The Princess Bride.
• I collect wind-up toys, kaleidoscopes, prisms, spinning tops, and, of course, books.
• I have degrees in English Literature and Theater Studies, as well as a teacher’s certificate.
• My family has been writing and editing newspapers for five generations.
• I love comedy in all its forms, especially Improv.

8. Your favorite Genre?

I love anything funny, but I’m particularly partial to funny children’s books, fantasy and science fiction.

9. What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished reading Craig Ferguson’s autobiography, American on Purpose, and a book on Facebook marketing, which I reviewed for Amazon’s Vine program. I enjoyed them both.

10. What is the best book you've read?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is my favorite book. Douglas Adams was a genius. He could make me laugh and think on every page. It’s so sad he died so young.

11. Any new projects coming up?

I’m very excited about the next book I’ll be publishing, Why My Love Life Sucks: The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer. This is the YA novel that proves it takes the ultimate geek to be the ultimate hero. It was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest, and it received rave reviews from readers who found it hysterically funny. It’s meant to be the first in a series, and I just love the main character, Gilbert Garfinkle, to death. Literally. It’s so much fun to write. I hope readers will find it just as much fun to read.

Here’s your chance to market your book. Describe it. And why readers should pick it up?

Ride of Your Life is the story of seventeen-year-old Tracy Miller, who met the love of her life . . . thirty years after her own death.

Tracy was working at the House of Horrors at the Amazing Lands Theme Park when the fire broke out. Instead of running, she lost her life trying to save eleven-year-old Mack. Now thirty years have passed, and suddenly everything changes with the arrival of two new ghosts: a little girl named Ashley and a cute seventeen-year-old boy named Josh. Josh would do anything for Tracy, but can he help her let go of the past and accept his love?

Ride of Your Life is a bittersweet, romantic, YA ghost story that was inspired by a true event: the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire, which killed eight teenagers in 1984. It is a fantasy novel about undying love, and it won third-place in Smart Writer’s Write It Now (W.I.N.) contest in the YA category, which was judged by Alex Flinn, the author ofBeastly and Cloaked.

If you want a book that will make you fall in love, cry buckets, and simply love being alive, you have to read this book. Hang on. Love can be as terrifying as a roller coaster, but it can also be the Ride of Your Life.

Author Bio:

Shevi Arnold loves writing, illustrating, and making people laugh—and she’s been doing all three since 1987 when she started working as an editorial cartoonist for a newsweekly. She’s also worked as a comics magazine editor, as an arts-and-entertainment writer specializing in comedy and children’s entertainment, and as a consumer columnist.

Nowadays, though, she enjoys writing (and sometimes illustrating) humorous fiction, fantasy and science fiction, mostly for children and young adults. Shevi grew up in Philadelphia, and her family had a season pass to Great Adventure in the early 1980s. She was nineteen-years-old and studying overseas when a fellow college student asked her if she knew about the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire. Eight teenagers had lost their lives.

Like many, Shevi was shocked by the news. In her mind, she wanted to give that tragedy a happy ending. Ride of Your Life is the result. Her previous books are Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey--a humorous novel for middle graders about individualism and friendship overcoming peer pressure and bullying--and Toren the Teller's Tale--a YA fantasy about the magic of storytelling and one girl's struggle to accept that magic within herself. Why My Love Life Sucks, the first in the Gilbert the Fixer, is a funny YA science-fantasy novel about the ultimate geek having to confront his ultimate fear--getting stuck with a gorgeous girl who wants to be his platonic best friend literally forever.

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