Today’s author interview is with YA novelist Alissa Grosso. Alissa’s books have been published on four continents. She’s the author of the novels Popular (Flux, 2011), Ferocity Summer (Flux, 2012) and Shallow Pond (Flux, 2013). She’s also the creator of the weekly YouTube show Awkward Author.

Yvonne Ventresca: What inspired your Awkward Author YouTube videos? Which is your favorite episode? And tell us about the cat that loves to interrupt you!

Alissa Grosso: Well, I spend more time than I'd care to admit watching videos on YouTube. Then one day I was reading an article that mentioned that the segment of the population that watches the most YouTube videos is teen girls. (Please note: I'm not by any means a teen girl, but I do have a predilection for Hello Kitty merchandise.) So, since I write books for teen girls, it just seemed like maybe I should start making some YouTube videos of my own.

I'm not sure what my favorite episode is. Perhaps it's something special I'm working on for Christmas. I can't tell you too much about it, but I will say it's a collaboration with my boyfriend, who also happened to create the theme song I use for my videos.

As for Autumn, my feline production assistant, she's quite the character. She is deathly afraid of strangers. If you came over to my place you would never see her because she would go into hiding. Meanwhile she seems to love all the YouTube attention.

Autumn, ready for the next installment of Awkward Author
YV: What’s your typical writing schedule like? What are you working on these days?

AG: What is this schedule thing of which you speak? The truth is, I've never been very good at keeping schedules. My not quite official writing schedule involves writing at night, when it's quiet and there are less distractions, except for Autumn's helpful walks across my keyboard. Of course, writing at night does have one drawback. I'm tired and have been known to fall asleep at the keyboard.

These days I'm trying my hand at a few different things, a YA mystery and an adult romance novel that I'm writing with a couple of friends.

YV: Tell us a few random facts about yourself.

AG: I went to kindergarten twice. This was because I was too young to attend public school kindergarten so I went to the one at my nursery school first and then did the public school kindergarten the following year. So, I got bored of school at a young age.

I used to have a pretty substantial collection of flamingoes - stuffed animals, plastic lawn ornaments, ceramic flamingo figurines with thermometers in their bellies. I was even a member of something called The Flamingo Collector's Society. I was hard core. I no longer collect flamingoes. So, PLEASE DON'T SEND ME ANY FLAMINGOES!

I have an irrational fear of high ceilings. It's sort of like a reverse fear of heights.

I'm also afraid of open-ended interview questions, something along the lines of, "Tell us a few random facts about yourself." I mean random facts? Where does one even begin? These are the questions that make me decide there are urgent things I must do like read emails about a sale on dog food or organize my paperclips.

YV: Okay, here's a specific question instead: What has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) about being published?

AG: I think the biggest surprise about being published is that it isn't like some sort of exclusive club where you never need fear rejection again. Being published is awesome and amazing, but published authors still struggle to sell their new book and still get rejections.

YV: Writers often give advice to aspiring writers. But what advice would you give to debut novelists or other published authors?

AG: I've said this before in an Awkward Author video, but I'll say it again here because it's worth repeating. Authors are not non-profit organizations. Authors must value their time, and should never let others take advantage of them. While it's an honor when a school, library or other organization requests that an author do a presentation or conduct a writing workshop, it's not such a great opportunity if the organization expects you to provide this service pro bono. You would probably be better off spending this time working on your next book.

YV: Are there any common themes among your novels? What do you find yourself drawn to write about?

Well, I'm a fan of twists and turns, but I'm not sure if that's a common theme. I think I'm most drawn to interesting characters, and that the story tends to grow from there.

YV: What interview question do you wish people asked more often? (And how would you answer it?)

AG: Oh, no! It's one of those open ended questions! Well, here's a question no one ever asks me, "Tell me about your first literary success."
My answer: In second grade a story I wrote and illustrated about my uncle dressing up as Santa Claus and getting stuck in our chimney was chosen to be read aloud on our school's television station, but I was too shy to read it aloud myself. So, someone else did the reading. Now I make a fool of myself on a weekly basis on YouTube. Go figure.

Thanks Alissa! I refrained from including a flamingo photo in this post. It was so tempting....


  1. Those author videos are great! What a cool idea. And I loved the episode on authors not being non-profit organizations...

  2. AWKWARD AUTHOR! I did not know this existed. Heading over there now...

  3. I loved "7 Ways Not to Promote a Book"! I'm learning so many new things about YAOTL bloggers in these interviews.

  4. A great interview with a great YA author. Alissa is the "awkwardest." And that is a good thing!


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