The funniest things can happen in the middle of New York City. Like you go to a reading and you realize you may or may not be sitting down behind the author you may or may not have just reviewed on your book blog. Here’s a short vlog to explain just how I met Carley Moore, author of The Stalker Chronicles:
And now without further ado, a chat with Carley:
Let’s talk about stalking. I’ll be honest I may or may not use social media for that once in awhile, and when I was younger my friends and I did a lot of driving around finding out what the boys we liked were up to. What I liked about Cammie is that she was very old school in her attempts to get close to people. Were you inspired to write this story because of stalking you or someone you know did?
Oh, I forgot about driving around in cars looking for boys. Yeah, I did that. I also memorized the class schedules of boys I liked so that I could “accidentally” run into them in the halls at school. Like Cammie, I often wished I had a dog so that I could go for walks near the houses of certain crushes. So, um, yeah, I think I’ve done many of the “old school” methods of stalking, but I suspect I’m not alone in this. I’ve always thought there’s a fine line between stalking and flirting, depending on how the object of your affection responds, and I think Cammie sometimes walks the line and sometimes goes way too far. But I’m glad you like Cammie’s traditional methods. She takes pride in this expertise, even though she knows it’s gotten her into trouble. These days, with social media, were all encouraged to stalk each other, to pour over each other’s photos, and to act like creepers. It can be fun, but it can also be confusing and overwhelming.
Cammie did what she was doing because she didn’t know how to get to know people in any other way but it just backfired and alienated her from her students. I was really happy when a new kid came into town – someone that might give her a chance. Do you think this is a feeling readers can relate to?
I hope so. I grew up in a small town, much like the one Cammie inhabits, and I always found it so thrilling when someone new arrived, and honestly, it was so rare. A new person doesn’t know you, doesn’t know your history, and doesn’t know that maybe you peed your pants in the 1st grade or that you once wore two different shoes to school because you were so sleepy you didn’t notice. Also, when a new person moves into a small town, there’s always the possibility that they can teach you something about a bigger, cooler, different place. Toby, Cammie’s newest obsession, has all of that going for him.
In a lot of young adult books, sometimes family dynamics are MIA. I was so glad to see Cammie’s relationship with her younger brother, and even how her “stalking” made her incredibly perceptive about what was going on with her parents. How did you balance the family sub-plot with Cammie’s budding friendship with Toby?
It seemed natural for me to make sure that Cammie had a complicated and interesting family to serve as a backdrop for her own struggles. I also wanted her to have a foil, someone who cares about her, but also antagonizes her and siblings are great for that kind of thing. I really enjoyed writing Henry. He’s so different from Cammie—popular, confident, an athlete, and yet in some fundamental way they get one another.
How did you celebrate when you first heard your book was going to be published?
I told my daughter, who was two at the time, and home with me when my agent called with the good news. I’m not sure she understood, but she was the first person I told. I called my husband who was on his way home from work, and I think we both screamed a little into the phone. I called my parents too, who were also very excited. My husband brought me flowers and a bottle of wine that night, and later I bought myself a very pretty beaded bracelet. I think I probably ate a steak at some point in the whole celebration, but I can’t remember.
Originally, you are a writer of poetry. Did you feel like your experience with poetry helped you with your writing of TSC?
Absolutely. The image is central to poetry and crafting images in my poems has helped me really care about details and imagery on the sentence level in my fiction. But I’ve also had to teach myself a lot to write fiction—stuff about plot, point of view, and pacing that poetry did not prepare me to do. But I’ve enjoyed learning how to write fiction. In a poem, the world you make is smaller, more confined, and more tightly wound in some sense. In novels, I feel that I have to create a whole enormous world, and it’s an interesting challenge for me.
In the spring you sat on a panel for “New Voices of Young Adult World.” What has been the biggest surprise about being a newbie in this genre?
I’m amazed by the genre’s creativity and flexibility. There are so many wild ideas out there and so many surprising books. Whenever I go to a new YA event or reading, there’s always a writer there who is up to something really clever. I know a lot of YA writers say this, but I also think it’s a very generous and open community, and I’m really grateful for that.
Did you read a lot of young adult to prepare? What are some of your current favorites or perhaps young adult titles you hold dear from when you were younger?
I read a lot in general, probably more “adult” fiction than young adult fiction. I also read a lot of poetry and essays. I just bought Sheila Heti’s new novel, How Should a Person Be? which I’m hoping to start reading on an upcoming trip to California. I didn’t read a lot of young adult fiction to prepare to write The Stalker Chronicles, but I was inspired to try the genre by my best friend, Madeleine George’s first YA, Looks. Madeleine’s book is a real and honest look at an odd friendship between two outsider girls, and I’ve always cared deeply for outsider characters. Right now, I’m reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth and also Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss. I’m also reading The Dirt: Motley Crue. When I was a younger reader, I loved Anne of Green Gables and Lucy of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery, everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I devoured The Sweet Valley High books for a while, but then I got bored with the whole good twin, evil twin thing. I was a big Flowers in the Attic fan. Scary!!
I was at a reading a few months ago and one of the authors mentioned how she was uber aware of what she was writing because she had two young girls. As a mother, do you feel pressure when writing because you know your daughter might pick it up someday?
Hmmm…not yet. Maybe I should. My daughter loves the bright pink cover of my book, and I hope she’ll read it someday. I dedicated the book to her, so I did have her in mind when I was writing, but in a very abstract way. I figure she might not be that interested in what I’m up to as a writer when she’s older, but we’ll have to wait and see. I do try to create complex and real characters so that real girls can relate to them, and maybe that’s a motherly instinct, but I suspect it’s more about being a teacher and a reader myself.
On your blog, you mentioned your cover. I love it because it’s so bright and people remember it but it’s true, it looks like a book marketed strictly for girls and I could honestly seeing boys enjoying Cammie’s story. How do you convince a boy to read a book that’s pink?
I don’t know. If anyone figures that out, I hope they’ll tell me. I think boys might like the book too, but it’s tough when it’s so so pink. The cover is lovely (the binoculars are perfect!) and it really does stand out on the shelves, but I’ve had many folks tell me and reviewers too, that they think the book’s super pink cover lead them to believe that the content would be much more superficial. They were happy it wasn’t, but I do worry that the pink cover puts off a certain type of girl (one that I was myself), who is darker and edgier and might really respond to Cammie and her pathologies.
What’s next for you as far as writing? On your blog you mention an adult novel (haha I liked the comment about 50 Shades) but will you venture back into YA?
I’ve got two more YAs in the pipeline (more on that soon I hope). One is a ghost story and one is about a popular girl who gets taken down by a series of unfortunate texts, so I hope to be a part of the YA world for some time. I am also working on an “adult novel” (glad you like my joke), but it’s very new and I can’t say much about it, other than that it’s set in a small town and involves a female protagonist and a rock star.
I loved how you mentioned your husband in the acknowledgments. Is there a stalking story behind this?)
We met as graduate students at NYU. We were teaching in the same writing program, and I did often in the beginning “accidentally” show up at bars and events where I knew he might be…you see, how this whole stalking thing works, right?
Do you prefer writing in the AM or PM: I prefer the morning, but I write whenever I can, often after my daughter goes to bed.
Best way to get over writer’s block: Keep writing and accept that you will have to write some bad stuff before it gets better. Also, get a little feedback from a trusted reader about what to write next.
Favorite thing about summer in NY: he Red Hook public pool
Favorite snack/drink while writing: Coffee, Taro chips, Greek yogurt
Favorite season: Summer
Favorite bookstore: Greenlight Bookstore
Music preference: Early indie, punk, anything my friends download for me
Non-writing hobby: Yoga
Thank you so much to Carley for providing a copy of her book for a giveaway and also taking the time to answer my questions! To keep up with Carley and her work, be sure to check out her adorably designed blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages! (As a bonus, check out this cute interview Carley did with her 11-year old neighborhood pal!)