1. One of the dominant issues in the book is Deanna's wish for a meaningful connection with her father, and she reminisces about her early childhood and how things were then. Was her working through the situation inspired by your issues with your own father, or was it simply the logical fallout from Deanna's situation?
I definitely tapped into some of my own family history to form Deanna's story, even though the particular issues were different. Deanna's dad is actually far more present than mine was, but I think even the best father/daughter relationships can be difficult during adolescence. I do think girls need fathers (or some kind of positive male adult influence) in a very particular way, and if that's missing, it can create a situation where they're more susceptible to fall for the Tommy Webbers of the world. But yeah, part of it was the logical fallout. I don't think very many fathers would know how to handle what happened with Deanna, and her father in particular just wasn't equipped. I do have compassion for him. I don't see him as a failure or a bad guy, just a beleaguered parent whose best effort at handling a difficult situation fell short, as all of our best efforts so often do.
2. I was particularly impressed that Deanna didn't see herself as a victim. Was that a conscious decision on your part, or is that just how she showed up?
It's been a long time since the initial story formed, but I'm pretty sure she just showed up that way. I never wanted her situation to be about coercion or being "done to" so much as about choices and aftermath. That's far more interesting to me, since that's so much of what life adds up to.
3. From an interview you did with Cynthia Leitich Smith, I learned that Deanna initially came to you as a side character in another story. Is the other story going to see the light of day, do you think? If not, care to share what Deanna was doing there?
I doubt that story will ever be publishable. There are some things I really like about it---some scenes with Darren and Deanna and Stacy that helped make them so real to me before I even started Story of a Girl — but I think that book served its purpose. That story was about Lee and her arrival at a new school, and her search for her father (hm, I'm sensing a recurring theme...). Deanna was there as a girl with a tough exterior who pursues Lee's friendship for reasons Lee can't understand at first. Deanna was always one of those characters who really walked onto the page fully formed. I got lucky.
4. A writing-related question: Does keeping an office outside the house help you focus on writing better than writing at home did? Does it help you leave the writing at the office when you get home?
I'm not sure how much the office helps in terms of the actual writing---I still end up doing a lot of writing at home. (And I never "leave it at the office.") What the office gives me is a place to go when I'm tired of being at home, a reason to shower and dress, a reminder that I'm self-employed and my writing is a business, a symbol of my commitment to that business, and a place to store all my books and papers.
5. What's next?
My second book for Little, Brown is about to go into copyediting. It's called SWEETHEARTS, and it's chock full of childhood trauma, compulsive eating, social and personal reinvention, and relationship drama! It's slated for April, 2008. After that...who knows?
[Note from Kelly: Just the other day, Sara posted some wonderful news about Story of a Girl: Movie rights have been purchased by Mixed Breed Films, with producers Kyra Sedgwick and Emily Lansbury.]
6. Speed round:
Cheese or chocolate? Oh sure, start with an impossible choice! I think...cheese. No, chocolate. No, cheese. Definitely cheese.
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Cats or dogs? Cats.
Favorite color? I don't know.
Favorite snack food? Apples in season.
Favorite ice cream? Anything described as having dough, chunks, or nuggets. But no marshmallow.
Water or soda? Water.
What's in your CD player/on iTunes right now? I'm listening to a Pandora station put together by friend and fellow YA author Tara Altebrando's husband, Nick, who is in a band called Dutch Kills.
What's the last movie you memorized lines from? I tend to retain random bits of information against my will, so I'm liable to quote anything and surprise even myself.
For more interviews with Sara, check out her interviews with Jackie at interactivereader from Monday, and with Kelly H. at Big A little a.
Other SBBT interviews today:
Eddie Campbell by SBBT mastermind Colleen at Chasing Ray
Brent Hartinger by Jackie at interactivereader
Justine Larbalestier by Kelly H. at Big A little a
Cecil Castellucci by Gwenda at Shaken & Stirred
Ysabeau Wilce by Little Willow at Bildungsroman
Jordan Sonnenblick by Jen at Jen Robinson’s Books Page
Chris Crutcher by Tanita at Finding Wonderfland
Kazu Kibuishi by Kimberly at lectitans
Mitali Perkins by Eisha & Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Ruby by Gayle & Trisha at The YA YA YAs