INTERVIEW WITH LUCIA DiSTEFANO, AUTHOR OF BORROWED
BORROWED is a complex story, so this will be challenging, but give us the elevator pitch: a one or two sentence synopsis.
The lives of a girl with a broken heart and a girl with a "borrowed" heart collide, and each girl needs to rely on the other for survival.
It seems to me that novels usually come to authors in pieces, rather than all at once. Tell us a bit about how BORROWED came to you.
It came in pieces for sure! Years' worth of pieces. The first germ of it came when I thought about how creepy it would be to wake up with writing on your body that you didn't remember putting there. That led to thinking about how/why that would happen, which led to thoughts about how we might become disconnected from parts of ourselves. And because humans are complex creatures, I imagined that self-self disconnection as complex and unpredictable. Only after writing many drafts of what would become Borrowed (formerly known as Faded) did I land on the physiological aspect of organ transplant and how that might play into the psychological disconnection I was exploring.
You're a former high school teacher--how do you think that helped lead you toward the YA genre?
My own high school years were incredibly difficult, and maybe part of us stays in the period where we experienced the most struggle. So I've always felt a connection with teens, even after I left teaching. Also, reading was an important means of coping for me when I was a teen, so although I'm many years removed from that time in my life, it's not a stretch for me to imagine myself back there.
I was intrigued by dividing the book into "acts"--what made you choose that division?
I can't take credit for that. Rather, credit is due my smart, savvy, thoughtful editor, Jotham Burrello. I don't have a natural sense of structure (too much like math, and all my math teachers could tell you I'm on the verge of hopeless there). But Jotham has a keen eye for structure and timelines and the like, and he suggested splitting the book up according to the pace of the action and the change in setting. I wouldn't have thought of it on my own, but I do love the three-act structure of the book now that it's in place.
How do you feel editing / ghostwriting helped with your own writing?
I love editing (my husband will tell you I love it a little too much, like when I have to pause movies with subtitles to point out errors in the text), and I think that naturally lent itself to me finding the revision process rich and rewarding. Regarding the ghostwriting, I think that helps by keeping my writing muscle limber. Because much of my ghostwriting work is nonfiction, it doesn't directly inform novel-writing regarding plotting, but it does help on the sentence level.
What was the biggest surprise in writing your own project?
Oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly), I noticed that there was a level of anxiety in working on something that would be put into the world as "from me," versus the writing I do where my identity is only ever known by the client. There's a certain degree of comfort in stealth, I guess you could say. That ended up surprising me, because I thought I'd be feeling more freedom in working on my own project, but it was the reverse.
You do include some violent, frightening scenes. Was it hard to write them? What's scary to you?
Those scenes were indeed difficult to write. But Robert Frost said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader," and since I like to feel wrung out by things I read (maybe "emotionally invested" is a better way to say that?), I was determined to write the scenes that I felt the story demanded. For sure the loss of personal freedom is the most frightening thing for me.
What's your writing strategy? Plotter / pantser? Do you keep a schedule? Do you work in the same place?
Despite the fact that I've tried many times (oh-so-many!) to become a plotter (it seems so much more efficient), I am a stubborn pantser. I try to write early mornings, before I turn to my ghostwriting/editing projects. When I am especially disciplined, I get to work early enough on the deck and witness the local bats come back from their night out. I really love that, which means it's good incentive to get up before dawn. Otherwise, I tend to vary the scene. Austin is a coffee city, so there's always a cool indie coffee shop to try, not to mention the gorgeous new Central Library (a "library of the future").
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a YA contemporary retelling of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." There's a band tour bus instead of a ship, and a white wolf instead of an albatross. Thinking up band names has been ridiculously fun.Be sure to snag a copy of BORROWED here. And keep up with all things Lucia DiStefano on Twitter (@LuciaDiStef).
Links to the rest of the BORROWED tour:
October 29: Review at Fab Book Reviews
October 31: Author interview at Katya de Becerra: The Last Day of Normal
November 5: Author interview at BubblersRead
November 7: Guest post at Fab Book Reviews
November 12: Author guest post at BubblersRead
Week of November 12: Giveaway at Fab Book Reviews
Week of November 12: Author interview at Cynsations
November 20: Author interview at The Story Sanctuary
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