Today I get to interview one of the FUNNIEST women I have ever met. After having a five minute conversation with her, you will be rolling on the floor laughing. Last summer at the RWA conference, Simone co-participated in a "Writing for YA market" workshop that had the audience in hoots!
Don't get me wrong, this lady isn't just laughs....her specialty is edgy, realistic teen-fiction such as LEAVING PARADISE (if you haven't read this book, get yourself to a bookstore NOW!)
And now, without further adieu, Simone Elkeles!
Simone! So good to talk to you again...cannot wait to see what you've been working on lately. Speaking of this, I have been curious about this for so long....how did you start writing? I know you have two kids, a husband and you used to manage your dad's factories. Where did you get the time?
I only started writing after I sold the family business. I was a bored stay-at-home new mom, who spent a lot of time taking my toddler to the library just to get out of the house. I picked up a book at the library (I was NOT a big reader, to say the least) and for the first time fell in love with reading. I gobbled them up like white chocolate chips (my favorite) and read, like, one book a day. You’d be surprised how you can play Candyland and read at the same time. I was bored at home, and it seriously just hit me…I was going to try and write a book. I’d never taken a creative writing class in my life, but I had an idea in my head and I wanted to get it out on paper (or computer). So I just started writing during my toddler’s naps.
You know how much I love reading your stuff. Are the HOW TO books "your" story? Sorry for being overly nosy, but the people want to know!
Ha! Good question. I have to say that everywhere my character Amy goes, I’ve been. No, I’ve never stepped in a snake…but I sure did see one there. And Mutt is a real puppy in Israel (without the name Mutt). He is dirty, and mangy, and so loveable you want to hug him forever (with rubber gloves on, because he’s so dirty…he’s a sheepherding dog). I DO have a lot of thoughts that Amy does (I get grossed out when people spit out their olive pits on the plate in front of me…yuck!). When people say she’s bratty, I kinda take it personally. Amy IS me…although my husband is no Avi (don’t tell him that) and I didn’t kiss a guy when I was dating another guy…wait…memory coming back….there might have been this one time….this is why I am DEFINITELY NOT going on that show Moment of Truth.
You have two kids and we know how tough being a working mom can be. How do your kids influence your writing? Do you allow them to read your grittier stuff?
Ha! How do my kids influence my writing? Well, I have to say that it’s hard being a mom and writing full time. Why don’t kids understand the word DEADLINE? Sometimes I get the feeling of someone reading my computer over my shoulder as I write. When I hear, “Mommy, I see a bad word on the screen,” it’s hard for me. I try never to write when the kids are home…unless it’s at night after they’re asleep. But those little buggers sometimes don’t want to go to sleep and “Mommy has to work.” My son is too young to read my books. My daughter can read How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, but that’s it for now. I tell my friends that she glosses over the words or concepts she doesn’t understand. I told my friend that my daughter doesn’t know what “sperm donor” means…my friend said that I was a naïve idiot. Hmmm…she might have a point there, but I’m not going to discuss it. Yet. I think I’d like to stay a naïve idiot a little longer.
You sound absolutely swamped! Okay, imagine for a minute that I am Aladdin's genie. If you could take a month off of all your regular responsibilites, what would you spend that month doing?
Oh, my lordy lord lord, the possibilities are endless. I’d probably read and knit and work out and take care of myself for once. I’d feel guilty, though.
If you're going to feel guilty no month off for you! (Just kidding, the only place I have that kind of power is in my fictional mind!) You have accomplished so many things that people dream of. What would you say has been the greatest moment of your life...the moment you'll always remember?
Seriously, I can’t say there has been one moment. There’s been many little moments: getting married, having kids, selling a book, getting my Master’s degree…so many little joys in my life make it all great. I’m just happy to be alive and living my dream…a family, a career I love…it’s all good.
I'm not just saying it, you are one of the funniest people I've ever met.....how did you get so funny? Is it a natural thing, or do you work at it?
Thanks, Dona, that’s such a compliment! Ever since I was a kid I remember loving to laugh. But when I realized I can make other people laugh…oh, that was a bigger rush. I remember making people laugh, and making a complete fool out of myself to do it. I feel happier when I can make someone laugh. Some people are so self-conscious…I’m the anti-self conscious. If I can say something outrageous or do something outrageous just to make someone laugh, I’ll do it. I also try and take life not too seriously. It’s come to the point that I can’t hold myself back from saying something funny…it is natural for me.
And are we ever glad of that! Okay, I must know....what are you writing next? I hope it's edgy!
So nice of you to ask! I can finally announce that I have a brand new book coming out in early 2009! I am super-excited. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story about a gang member who wants to change his life for the girl on the right side of the tracks, but the consequences of leaving the gang are more than he bargained for. I can’t wait for my fans to finally be able to read this book…I’ve been working on it for five years. I don’t have a title yet, although the old title was Zero Tolerance.
Simone, we Buzz Girls are SOOO proud of your new book deal and we cannot wait for it to hit the shelves. Thanks so much for talking to us today!
Simone Elkeles is the author of HOW TO RUIN MY SUMMER VACATION, HOW TO RUIN MY TEENAGE LIFE and (my favorite!) LEAVING PARADISE -- all out now!