2012 YA Debut Interview: WHERE IT BEGAN by Ann Stampler (+Giveaway!)

My favorite part about a new year (besides building a wobbly tower of unrealistic expectations for how much I’ll write in the coming year, yay!) is the thought of all the new voices I’ll get to discover. There’s a whole crop of debut YA novelists coming out with books in 2012, and I can’t wait to read them! So, to share my excitement with you, I’m doing a new series of short interviews on this blog.

From December 5 through December 16, I’m featuring ten Winter/Spring 2012 debut authors who wrote books I want to read! Look for giveaways accompanying these interviews—as well as a chance to win a pre-order of your choice at the end of the series.

Read on to see how Ann Stampler answered my questions about writing Where It Began and more (and if you comment on this post, you could win an ARC and a personalized book plate!)…

2012 YA Debut Interview:

Ann Redisch Stampler, author of Where It Began (Simon Pulse, forthcoming March 6, 2012)

I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?”

I am a very poor summarizer, but fortunately, my publisher is great at it, so here’s their description:

Gabby Gardiner wakes up in a hospital bed looking like a cautionary ad for drunk driving and lacking a single memory of the accident that landed her there. What she can remember, in frank and sardonic detail, is the year leading up to the accident.

As she takes us through her transformation from invisible girl to on-trend Girl Who Dates Billy Nash (aka Most Desirable Boy Ever), she is left wondering: Why is Billy suddenly distancing himself from her? What do her classmates know that Gabby herself does not? Who exactly was in the car that night? And why is Gabby left alone to take the fall?

Putting the pieces together will take every ounce of Gabby’s strength. As she peels back the layers of her life, she begins to realize that her climb up the status ladder has been as intoxicating as it has been morally complex…and that nothing about her life is what she has imagined it to be.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? Was there ever a moment when it misbehaved?

This novel came to me in fits and starts, entirely out of order. I knew the character of Gabby first, so I had her voice, and I had a general sense of what happened. Beyond that, I would get up in the morning and usually I wouldn’t have much of a sense of which bit I was going to be writing.

Once I was into it, I would read virtually everything I had so far for a couple of hours most days to get warmed up, and make little edits along the way, and sometimes in the middle of that, but generally after, I would know what I had to do, I would hear a conversation or see a glimpse of a scene, what everything looked like, and I’d go from there. And sometimes Gabby did take me places that I didn’t expect the book to go when I was first thinking about the story, but she became increasingly real to me, which created some imperatives that I hadn’t anticipated.

What is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?

On the contrary, I think it’s safe to say that this book distracted me from doing everything else. There were periods, when I was revising in particular, that I would work for very long stretches, sometimes all-night kinds of stretches (Hint: Never send your agent email after 4 a.m. unless you think loopy email is a lot more adorable than it actually is). I had to clear very big chunks of time to be able to work on large enough pieces of it to get anything done properly. I was possibly a bit obsessive with it, I was completely taken over.

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book.

I wrote this book mostly on a couch in the den at my old house. The couch is tan and the exact color of my dog, which is a good thing, because he sheds and he was right there with me. I come from the cut-and-paste school of writing—the literal kind of cutting and pasting, not the Microsoft Word kind, that involves clearing a large space on the floor and a bunch of Scotch tape and garden shears—so I also spent a certain amount of time on the floor with this book.

I also worked on this book all over town. I took a spiral notebook with me and I wrote at my favorite Japanese restaurant, the Beverly Hills Public Library, and in my car. (I wrote a couple of my picture books in a notebook propped on my steering wheel in carpool line, so this was nothing new.)

We moved shortly after I sold the book, so I can’t take a picture of the den for you, but now, even though I (supposedly) have a wonderful office in the new house, my husband is much happier working at a desk and I’ve taken up residence on a white couch in my bedroom, for when I’m writing, and at my dining room table when I’m spreading out to revise.

What was the moment when the upcoming publication of your novel felt “real” for the first time—when you got your editorial letter, when you saw the cover, when you held the ARC in your hands… or something else? Or if it doesn’t feel “real” yet, when do you think it will?

The upcoming publication felt real when I first sat down to read the ARC. I loved everything about it, the paper, the font, the cover, the scent of the pages. Still do.

Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

Jane Austen to England; she could plan the itinerary. Jane and I would serve trifle. That glorious summer English trifle with fresh berries and lightly whipped cream. Although if Jane felt that this was inappropriate, I would defer to her judgment on issues of menu and probably everything else. And William Shakespeare to Verona. We all know what he’d be signing. (All right, he could be signing The Two Gentlemen of Verona, but seriously, if you were William Shakespeare in Verona, what would you be signing?) And we’d be serving lemon gelato. I’m sure there are Elizabethan dishes with more literary panache, but it’s Verona, and it’s summer, and we’re eating gelato.

(I feel extraordinarily arrogant even suggesting that I might sign with these two, but given that this is the dream question, these are the writers I’d most like to meet.)

How do you plan to celebrate your book’s birthday on March 6?

I’m writing this in October, and I’m not sure yet. I have a great many wonderful ideas, but I’m not exactly sure how to get the Rolling Stones, Queen Elizabeth, and everyone who ever thought that I was weird in school to come. Also, is the entire city of Florence available for party rental, and how much confetti can you toss before it becomes a fire hazard? I’m sure that I’ll carry on about this at length on my blog as soon as I figure it out, though.

Ann Redisch Stampler: “I was born in Hartford, raised mostly in Santa Barbara, and have lived in Los Angeles throughout my adult life. I’ve been married for decades and have two children, whom I adore (husband, too), and a dog/writing companion. I dropped out of high school (not recommended), graduated from Pomona, and attended a whole lot of graduate school. I always wanted to be a writer but didn’t have the confidence to make the complete commitment and take the complete risk until now. I’ve published four picture books, mostly folklore, which I love, and there are two more on the way. Where It Began is my first novel and as I write this, the next one has to be finished in 92 days.”

Read Ann’s blog at annstampler.blogspot.com.

Follow @annstampler on Twitter.

Do you want a chance to win Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler? Ann is giving away an ARC and a personalized book plate to ONE LUCKY COMMENTER on this post. Just comment below and you’re entered to win.

(If you tweet about this giveaway you get +1 extra entry… just let me know you did.)

RULES: One winner will be chosen randomly. The giveaway to win an ARC and personalized book plate of Where It Began ends Thursday, December 15 at 5:00 p.m. EST. To win this giveaway, you must have a US mailing address. Be sure to include your email in the comment form (it is private and only I will see it), so I know how to reach you if you win.

And stay tuned for the end of the 2012 Debut Interview Series—for a chance to win the pre-order of your choice out of all ten featured authors!

What is the next Winter/Spring 2012 debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back tomorrow to find out.

52 responses to “2012 YA Debut Interview: WHERE IT BEGAN by Ann Stampler (+Giveaway!)”

  1. Amanda says:

    I want to read this one so bad. A trip with Jane Austen and William Shakespeare would be amazing!

    I also tweeted

  2. I agree on the trip with Jane Austen! Looking forward to reading this book!

  3. Bee says:

    I’ve had Where It Began on my Goodreads wishlist for a long time now. Contemporary’s my fave genre and this is right up my alley, so I can’t wait for it. LOVED the interview. This is the first interview I’ve read of this author’s.

    And the fact that I’m not in the US makes me want to bawl now.

  4. Leigh Smith says:

    This is just the sort of book I’ve been into lately. Look forward to reading it. Thanks for this series and the contest.
    I tweeted here: http://twitter.com/#!/blackeyedsue21/status/144788444521054208

  5. Mardou says:

    Ooh, I love that tour idea. The trifle! The company!

    Looking forward to reading the book–I love YA contemporary (it’s my genre) and I REALLY love books where the protagonist doesn’t remember key points of his/her history. 🙂

    I tweeted about this here: https://twitter.com/#!/MardouLedger/status/144791888254345216

  6. Nicole says:

    Great interview! I haven’t heard of this book before, but after reading your post it has been added to my “to read” list! And traveling with Jane Austen just sounds awesome!

  7. dothutchison says:

    I’m not normally a contemp reader but that sounds really interesting. My TBR stack just keeps getting higher and higher. Congrats!
    requiemofrain (at) hotmail (dot) com
    (oh, and I tweeted- @dothutchison)

  8. E. Wing says:

    VERY excited for this book. I always think it’s exciting for the reader to find out information at the same time as the protagonist.

    Tweet’d: https://twitter.com/#!/EricaWing/status/144810148303618049

  9. I love that she chose Shakespeare and Austen. If I could meet them both, I would love that too!

  10. Renee Young says:

    Ann, I am so excited by your novel. I absolutely need to set aside some special “me” time so that I
    can follow Gabby’s journey.

  11. Pam Harris says:

    This sounds INCREDIBLE! Can’t wait to read it. 🙂

  12. When an interviewee displays such a witty, engaging voice, we can certainly anticipate the delight we will have when reading a whole book by her! By the way, Ann is a new friend of mine, and she speaks in person just as wholeheartedly as she writes, so if you are organizing a literary event, hire her to inspire!

  13. Ann Stampler says:

    I just wanted to thank Nova so much for this, and to say how thrilled I am by all of your comments!

  14. Andie says:

    Eeep! I can’t wait for WHERE IT BEGAN. I tweeted it: http://twitter.com/#!/andietwbas/status/144850423721897984

    My email is: theworldbehindashelf(at)gmail(dot)com

  15. ClaireCWrites says:

    I would love to win this, it sounds awesome! Thanks for the chance, Nova 🙂

  16. Vivien says:

    Thanks again. This sounds just lovely!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  17. Joely says:

    The book sounds incredible! Thanks for the chance to win! 🙂

  18. fishgirl182 says:

    thanks for the giveaway. i hadn’t heard of this book but now i am intrigued. beautiful cover as well. thanks!

  19. jo says:

    I’ve not heard of this one but sounds v interesting. Count me in!

  20. Zoey Talbon says:

    Love the cover. And hey, the couch seems like a great place to write most of a book! 🙂 😛

    +1 tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/taytaystalker/status/144949144631513088

  21. Adrianne R. says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while!

  22. Lauren says:

    Can’t wait to read this one!

  23. Stephanie Parent says:

    Ooh, this sounds good! Thanks for the giveaway!


    thaliansmhc at yahoo dot com

  24. Gabi says:

    She almost has my name! If only you had spelled it Gabi. *sigh* Gabby is still pretty close, though. It seems like there are a lot of (well, no, I can think of two) waking up after an accident, not remembering the accident books. It will be interesting to see how you use the theme in your book.

  25. Bailey says:

    I have been so excited about this book ever since I heard about it! I tweeted about the giveaway here: http://twitter.com/#!/Novel_Nerd/status/144962043609485313

  26. Miri E. says:

    This is going to be great!

  27. Cool interview! It made me think of who I would want to sign with. 🙂


  28. Nora says:

    I’d love to read this one

  29. katherineskye says:

    Reblogged this on Katherine.

  30. Donna says:

    I think I’d go to Botswana with Alexander McCall Smith.

  31. Thank you for the chance to with this, I have been looking forward to this book! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  32. Alicia says:

    I am dying to read Where It Began.

  33. Erica says:

    I would love to enter – I’m super looking forward to Where It Began! 🙂

    It tweeted here: https://twitter.com/#!/thebookcellarx/status/145365128794222592

  34. April X says:

    I haven’t heard of this book till now, but I am definitely adding it on my to read list 🙂

    I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/bookaway_april/status/145570667293708288

  35. Oooo so exciting! I’d love for a chance to win this Arc!!! 🙂

    I also Tweeted about the book/contest!!

    Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/lunarwolves86/status/145572178363035648

    Email: Asilverflamedsky (at) yahoo (dot) com

  36. Lena Marsteller says:

    Thanks for the giveaway!!!

  37. Erin says:

    This book has been on my TBR pile for about a month now, thanks for the amazing giveaway!

    I also tweeted this: https://twitter.com/#!/JumpIntoBooks/status/145644204708732928


  38. Jillian says:

    Looking forward to the book — I like my contemporary with some mystery — and also to her dream tour, of course 😉

  39. Louise k says:

    Great giveaway! I tweeted about the giveaway

  40. graceart18 says:

    This have a very pretty cover!

  41. bookchelle says:

    I can’t wait for this! It’s sounds so amazing. This was a great post and thank you for the giveaway.

    Tweeted about the giveaway. https://twitter.com/#!/bookchellef/status/146666374708723712

  42. Lenmeo says:

    I just wonder, how much of the story did your dog come up with? 🙂

  43. lindsaywrites says:

    why yes, I WOULD love a copy! 🙂

  44. jcestes says:

    What a great giveaway — would really love a copy!

  45. Tammi Sauer says:


    Count me in. 🙂

  46. sharonmorse says:

    I’m intrigued! Can’t wait to read this!

  47. Grace says:

    I want! Thanks so much for the opportunity! I have been eyeing this book for so long.

    RT your “30 min left to win” tweet.

  48. This giveaway is now closed. Thank you so much for entering! And thank you to the author for giving away an ARC!

  49. Michelle says:

    i really want to read this book. pick me! pick me!

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