Friday, March 9, 2012

Debut Author Interview: Meredith Zeitlin

I am so thrilled to be hosting Meredith Zeitlin on the blog today. Her debut, Freshman Year and Other Natural Disasters, recently released featuring the wonderfully frustrating life of Kelsey Finkelstein. I'd like to thank her for stopping by and being so awesome to answer my questions!

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voice-over artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.

In case you're wondering whether any of Kelsey's experiences are based on Meredith's own, the answer is NO WAY. When she was fourteen, Meredith looked and behaved perfectly at all times, was never in a single embarrassing situation, and always rode to school on her very own unicorn.

1. Can you sum your book up in 5 words or less?  Oooh, that's hard! "Best book ever; buy now?" Okay, okay - lemme try that again. "Kelsey Finkelstein's high school misadventures!"

2. Was your freshman year of high school on the same level of disastrous as Kelsey's? Yes and no. I certainly had my share of missteps - many of the ones in the book, in fact - but since it was real life, there were lots of regular old boring things in between the disasters, whereas the book is much more concentrated. On the other hand, almost everything seemed like the end of the world when I was fourteen, so at the time it felt like it was definitely a non-stop disaster zone. Hm. I have no idea if I actually answered this question. Ah, well - moving on!

3. How does it feel having your debut finally released? It's pretty amazing. The process took so much longer than I had anticipated, so for a while it seemed like the book would never come out. There were times when I was so frustrated that I honestly didn't care anymore if it ever did. But now that it's finally happened, and people seem to really like Kelsey and her story, I feel happy and proud and excited and eager to write something new. All I wanted, really, was to write something that would make a fourteen-year-old girl somewhere laugh and feel like she wasn't the only imperfect person in the world and that that was totally okay. I think maybe I've actually done that, and I'm thrilled about it.

4. Can you share the experience of what it is like to get back into the mindset of a fourteen year old girl? You know, I never tried to do that. I just wrote down the voice I had in my head that I knew was Kelsey. I've had the same inner voice since I was a little girl, and still do - I never want to dumb down a character because kids are "supposed to be" less mature (or more reckless or slangy or whatever) than adults. So I didn't think about writing "younger," but more about what a girl Kelsey's age would be focused on and how it would affect her - what choices she'd make based on her experiences so far.

5. What does your writing space look like? A mess! I don't even have a desk; I usually write from a purple chaise lounge in my living room with my computer on my lap. Next to me is a white lacquer and glass coffee table that most likely has candy on it. There is at least one orange cat sitting on me, probably. My TV (which is a pink flat-screen, and rules) is probably on. Lots of natural light all around, which I love. And plants. I am a big plant-person.

6. What is your favorite book to movie adaptation? Fried Green Tomatoes. Oh - or The Shawshank Redemption... A tie! I'm usually not a big fan of book-to-movie adaptations... at best, they're sort of fun add-ons if you've read the book, and at worst they ruin my entire life by not being true to the book. But those two are truly wonderful examples of nuanced, stand-alone pieces that I think are even better than the originals.

7. What is your favorite movie quote? Oh, man. How to possibly answer that!? Um... the first thing I thought of: “It's not that bad. What? I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.” (The Princess Bride) Or... anything from Auntie Mame. (BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME.) Example: "Child, how can you see with all that light!?"
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

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