Q & A with author/editor Stephanie Perkins

Blog_SummerDays_GIFBefore we get to the Q & A with author/editor Stephanie Perkins, here is some info about her new release, SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS.

Internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins brought together some of her closest friends and fellow bestselling young adult authors for the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me that a starred Publisher’s Weekly called “a rare holiday treat” and Romantic Times claimed “this is what all anthologies should aspire to be”. Now, she’s doing it again with SUMMER DAY AND SUMMER NIGHTS: Twelve Love Stories (St. Martin’s Griffin / On Sale: May 17, 2016), another anthology filled with twelve new stories from a superstar lineup of young adult authors. Already receiving rave reviews, this anthology is the perfect beach companion for those long, hazy summer days.

 

 

Featuring twelve brand new short stories from:
Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss, My True Love Gave To Me)
Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, The Grisha Trilogy)
Francesca Lia Block (Love in the Time of Global Warming)
Veronica Roth (The Divergent Trilogy)
Lev Grossman (The Magicians Trilogy)
Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments Series)
Jennifer E. Smith (The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love, The Geography of You and Me)
Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
Tim Federle (The Great American Whatever)
Nina LaCour (Everything Leads to You, You Know Me Well)
Jon Skovron (Misfits, Man Made Boy)
Brandy Colbert (Pointe)

SUMMER DAY AND SUMMER NIGHTS, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Blog_StephaniePerkins_picNow for the Q & A: Here, Stephanie discusses her new anthology, her perfect idea of summer, and her writing life:

In the first anthology (My True Love Gave to Me), I thought the overarching theme was hope. How does Summer Days and Summer Nights compare?

That’s a wonderful interpretation, and it’s apt for these stories, too. I wanted the two anthologies to feel connected, and the easiest way to do that—when you have so many different authors and genres—is through theme. So we have love, and we have hope.

Several characters in both anthologies are actually going through some pretty dark times, which surprises some of our readers, but I think hope often shines the brightest out of darkness. It’s important to show both sides of it.

 

On your blog you say that there’s a little bit of you in each of your characters. Does this typically help or hinder the editing/revision process? 

This is such an interesting question! I don’t have a satisfying answer—it’s probably both, with a slight edge to helping. Putting more of myself into the characters usually (though not always) leads to more honesty in my writing, which is the ultimate goal: to tell the truest version of each story that I can.

What was the inspiration for this second anthology? What did you give your contributing authors in the way of guidance or prompting as they began their stories?

The inspiration for the second anthology was . . . the first anthology. Working with my friends was such a joy, and I relished the opportunity to work with eleven new authors. All of them had so much to teach me both as an author and an editor. I’m always looking for opportunities to become better at my craft. Pulling apart these stories, inspecting their seams, digging in deeper—it’s a brilliant way to learn new tricks. And I’m a good editor, so I think/hope that my work was helpful for them, too.

I gave the authors only three guidelines: Their story had to take place during the summer, romantic love had to be involved, and—no matter how dark the situation got—it had to end on a note of hope.

 

BlogholidayGIFWhat was it like working at this project compared to the first one, My True Love Gave To Me? Is it easier to do the editing and collaborations with other authors now that you have experience from the first one? 

This one was significantly harder. The first anthology felt like a fluke—something with my friends, just for fun! A lot more planning went into this one. I’d already been a critique partner to several of the authors in the holiday anthology, so they were used to working with me. I’d already earned their trust.

With the summer anthology, I reached out to a lot of authors whose work I admired, but I didn’t personally know them as well. Relationships had to be established. That takes time. But the work was great fun, and I loved getting to know them, and it was a tremendous honor for these incredibly talented authors to have trusted me with their work. I’m so, so grateful.

Why did you decide to bring these particular authors together for this anthology?

I reached out to authors who are writing stories that I love. All of them have strong voices and—whether or not they primarily write romance—a kind and romantic heart.

The crazy and fantastic thing is that there are literally dozens of other YA authors who also fit this description. There are so many talented, inspiring writers in this industry! I had to make some tough decisions, and a lot of it just came down to keeping a balance between the genres.

 
How does editing a short story collection compare to writing a full-length novel? Did your process as an author influence your process as an editor?

It’s easier. A lot easier. I only had to come up with original content for 1/12th of the 400 pages! My writing process is slow and generally agonizing, so . . . yeah. It’s just not even close.

But it’s a huge part of the reason why I love to edit. I’m a slow drafter, and I prefer the tinkering, shimmering stages of editing and revising. It’s where a good story becomes great. My nitpicky brain loves working on that level—finding a better word, a tighter theme, a more developed character, a more textured setting. And I absolutely love helping other authors to find their own deeper, truer stories.

I think most authors become a better editor as they become a better writer. I’m the opposite. I started off with stronger editorial skills, and, as they improve, they’re helping me to become a better writer.

But, being an author, I will say that when I’m wearing my editorial hat, I heap a LOT of praise onto the other authors. I leave tons of notes for them in the margins and mark every single passage or phrase that I love. Writing is difficult work, and I always appreciate it when my own editors take the time to mark their favorite bits. Praise also shows me how to revise my work! It teaches me which parts are the good parts! And that’s revising in a nutshell: adding more good parts, removing the bad parts.

 
What is your ideal summer day? Summer night?

My ideal summer day and night are the same—sitting inside my house with my husband and my cat. I love my house. If it were possible, I would never leave it.

Plus, mosquitos really like me. And I sunburn easily.

What are the ingredients to your perfect summer, and have you had one?

Fireflies. Honeysuckle. Fresh fruit and vegetables.

I grew up in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, so there wasn’t a lot of this in my childhood. But as an adult, I’ve been living in Asheville, North Carolina, so I have this summer every year. I’m very lucky. It’s one of the many awesome things about being an adult—choosing where you live.

What are your thoughts on summer romances?

Naturally juicy! When you’re a teenager, they’re often fleeting and filled with drama. So much can happen over a single summer. You can reinvent yourself. There’s magic in that.

What are your favorite summer love stories?

Several of the authors in my two anthologies have written swoony summer romances. A few that immediately spring to mind: I’m pretty sure all of Jennifer E. Smith’s books take place over summer (The Geography of You and Me is a favorite), as well as Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments and Everything Leads to You, and Jenny Han’s Summer series, starting with The Summer I Turned Pretty.

 
Blog_watermelon-juice-1If you had to pair Summer Days and Summer Nights with a summer-y drink, what would it be?

Watermelon juice. It’s so simple—it’s just watermelon that’s been put into a blender, but it’s heaven.

In other interviews you’ve described yourself as an introvert. I imagine your desire to live quietly helps ground your writing life. What does your writing space look like? How do you organize a typical writing day?

Yes. I’m very introverted, and I’m very comfortable being alone. I’d love to be one of those cool, coffee-shop authors, but I need silence to write.

My office is in my house. It has lime green walls and a bold pink desk. (If I remember correctly, the name of the paint was “Sweet Sixteen Pink.”) My desk is covered with trinkets from loved ones, and my shelves overflow with research books and foreign editions of my own novels. There are also a lot of tiny, creepy items—animal skulls and teeth. I have a dark sense of humor.

I wear noise-cancelling headphones, and I start work at ten o’clock in the morning. I work for four hours. Five, if it’s going well. After that I stop, because I’m prone to burnout. Then I’ll eat a late lunch, and then I’ll answer email or pop on social media until my husband comes home.

But if I’m nearing the end of a deadline, all of these rules are thrown out, and I work around the clock until it’s done. And then I crash for about two weeks.

What books from your younger years as a reader contribute to your stories now as a writer?

Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat was hugely influential on Lola and the Boy Next Door, which was the first novel that I worked on. Lola wouldn’t exist without Weetzie. My first published book, Anna and the French Kiss, was largely influenced by the voices of Meg Cabot, John Green, and Maureen Johnson. And everything I write has been influenced by my love of fairy tales and happily-ever-afters.

What can we expect to see from you next? Are there any plans of releasing a new full-length novel soon? 

My next novel is a teen slasher, which hopefully (if I finish it on time!) will be published next year. I’m having such a blast writing in the horror genre. And it’s honestly not as big of a departure as it seems. There’s still an attractive boy, an intriguing setting, and quippy friends. It just also contains a lot of murder.

If readers could take away one thing from having read Summer Days And Summer Nights what would you hope it would be?

It always sounds corny, but . . . hope is the hope. No matter what’s going on in your life right now—and as teenagers, so much of your life is out of your own control—it will get better. You’ll get more control, you’ll get to make more choices. Make good choices. Learn from your mistakes. I promise—with every single fiber of my heart—that life gets better. There is always hope.

 

About the Editor:
Stephanie Perkins has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. She’s the author of the international bestsellers Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, as well as Isla and the Happily Ever After. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories is her first anthology. Stephanie and her husband live in the mountains of North Carolina.

Blog_SummerDays_GIF

 


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