From the Booking Desk:
Yesterday, BOLOBooks ran a review of Alison Gaylin’s first young adult novel, Reality Ends Here. In case you missed it, that can be found here. Today, I am pleased to welcome Alison to the blog for an interview about her work and the background of the new novel.
BOLOBooks: What is it about Reality Television that made it a good background setting for a mystery novel?
Alison Gaylin: I’ve long been fascinated by reality TV. In some ways, it feels so intimate, but as I’ve found out from being involved in entertainment journalism, so much of it is scripted – with a lot of pressure on reality stars to act out and misbehave in order to be more “interesting” and create more drama.
Since nothing on a reality TV show is really as it seems, it felt like a great, somewhat surreal setting for a mystery.
As far as my main character, Estella, who is 16 and has been a reality star since the birth of her six-year-old, sextuplet half-siblings, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the kids on John and Kate Plus 8 (probably more than I should!) Unlike, say, the Kardashian women, who became famous reality stars as free-thinking adults, those kids really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. They had fame thrust upon them, with cameras a part of their daily routine whether they liked it or not. I thought, what if that show had never gotten cancelled? What would it be like to have every aspect of your awkward growing-up years caught on camera? What would that do to you.
BOLOBooks: What are some of your favorite reality TV shows?
Alison Gaylin: My daughter and I have been watching The Bachelorette (though I confess it’s kind of hard for me to tell all the guys apart!) I love Project Runway, and I’m a fan of the Real Housewives shows, especially Beverly Hills.
BOLOBooks: Children who become celebrities too young often seem to have a rough road. In Reality Ends Here, you really cover the gamut from boy band members to YouTube sensations. Are we doing these children a disservice by putting them on a pedestal?
Alison Gaylin: I think fame can be heady and fleeting and tough to handle — even for adults. Growing up is such a stressful, insecurity-plagued thing as is, without the added pressure to live up to a certain image and always look perfect and stay relevant as a celebrity. Sadly, that pressure often comes from parents. There’s a character in Reality Ends Here named Dylan, who was a superstar as a child and now a has-been at 23. He’s a self-deprecating and funny guy, but his situation is pretty sad. That said, there are child stars who grow up perfectly normal. They just aren’t in my book!
BOLOBooks: You are releasing Reality Ends Here as an e-only release. Why this decision and what has been the response to it so far?
Alison Gaylin: It’s not my decision, actually. The publisher is PocketStar, which is the e-book division of Simon and Schuster. I’ve really enjoyed working with my editor Adam Wilson, as well as his assistant Julia Fincher – they’re both smart, enthusiastic and terrific.
BOLOBooks: Do you have plans to do additional YA novels?
Alison Gaylin: I initially wrote Reality Ends Here with an eye toward making it into a series. My adult book schedule is pretty busy, but I’d love to write more novels with these characters in them.
BOLOBooks: I, for one, can certainly say that I would love to read more about many of the characters in Reality Ends Here. There is so much story yet to tell.
It seems to me that traditional mysteries are an untapped topic in the YA genre. There are plenty of thrillers and mysteries with paranormal leanings, but not a lot of true mysteries. This is slowly starting to change and I wondered if you had any comments on that?
Alison Gaylin: I always get confused between the genres in adult fiction! My grown up books tend to be called thrillers, and this book has been called a mystery. I just write stories that have crimes in them. However, I do like the idea that material for YA books is broadening. I think young people, just like grown-ups, like to read all genres. And just because one specific genre is in vogue, it doesn’t mean others can’t find an audience.
BOLOBooks: I know that As She Was recently received an Anthony Award nomination. Tell us about that book and its recently released sequel.
Alison Gaylin: Both As She Was and the sequel Into The Dark feature Brenna Spector – a private investigator blessed and cursed with hyperthymestic syndrome, or superior autobiographical memory. Brenna can remember – in perfect visceral detail — every single day of her life from the age of 11 (when her sister disappeared) on. So, while she’s good at her job (her specialty is missing persons) she is sort of a disaster in her personal life. How can you forgive and forget when you can’t forget? This is an issue for her. Each book has a separate crime that she solves, each bringing her a bit closer to solving the mystery of what happened to her sister. I’m now working on the third book in the series.
BOLOBooks: If forced to choose only one format for all your future reading, which would you choose: Hardback, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, or e-book? And why?
Alison Gaylin: I would choose mass market. I am one of the few people on the planet who still doesn’t have an e-reader. I like to turn pages. But I like something small that I can carry with me anywhere, as I love to read on the go.
From the Booking Desk:
Alison would like to let readers know about a special event she is taking part in. She will be participating in a book launch event at The Golden Notebook in Woodstock, NY. But for those that can not be there, the event will be Spreecast. Details can be found at: The Golden Notebook website.