2012 YA Debut Interview: CROAK by Gina Damico (+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 Gina Damico answered my questions about writing Croak and more (and if you comment on this post, you could win a signed ARC and a scythe pendant!)…

2012 YA Debut Interview:

Gina Damico, author of Croak ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Graphia, forthcoming March 20, 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?”

Croak is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Lex who has turned into a pretty major brat. Her parents get fed up with her nonsense and send her to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer at his farm in upstate New York. What neither she nor her parents realize is that he’s a Grim reaper, and he wants to teach her the family business.

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 one came pretty hard and fast. The idea hit me while I was at work one day, and I went home that night to start working on it, and didn’t stop for a few solid months, working straight through from start to finish. Once it was done, however, that’s when the crazies set in. My agent wanted a lot of gigantic changes, which terrified me. Those took a while to bang out. But all of them made it a better book, so it was a good banging. (Heh.)

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

The drooling guy next to me on the bus. For the whole first month I was working on Croak, my husband and I were in the process of apartment-hunting in New York City, so a lot of the writing got done on the Bolt Bus as we ferried ourselves back and forth between Boston and NYC. Let me tell you, snoring is not conducive to creative thought. Murderous thought, yes. Creative, no.

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.

Aside from the bus, most of it was written on my couch. I’m not really a desk person. I like to sprawl myself across any available couchy surface, preferably one covered in crumbs. Sometimes my cat is involved, and by involved I mean that he sits in my face, blocking the computer screen and attempting to shove his head into my cereal bowl.

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?

To be honest, it still doesn’t feel real, and I’m not sure it ever will. But I guess the weirdest, gum-swallowing moment was when I got the first pass pages, which are when the text of the book is all typeset and looking the way it’s going to look in the final version. The title page was there, and my name at the top of every page, and it was like whoa. Oh, and the Library of Congress info page. Congress!

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?

I’d probably drag Walter Moers out of Germany and Kurt Vonnegut out of his grave, because me on a book tour with two old (and probably cranky) men is such a delightful concept to me. And we’d go to Canada, because it’s very clean there. And we’d serve deep fried chocolate chip cookie dough, because I got to try this at the Big E (which is like a big state fair for all of New England) a month ago and it changed my life. It’s like raw cookie dough, melty and warm and deep fried. I don’t even care how many arteries it exploded, it was worth it.

How do you plan to celebrate your book’s birthday on March 20?

That’s an excellent question, and I’m open to suggestions. I’m currently tossing around book launch party ideas, but otherwise I’ll probably just do some sort of a bookstore crawl with my friends, tear up the town, maybe get arrested, then pass out bookmarks around the jail.

Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. She received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where she was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, the country’s only collegiate murder mystery improv comedy troupe, which may or may not have sparked an interest in wildly improbable bloodshed. She has since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. Croak is her first novel. She lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, and a closet full of black hoodies.

Visit Gina at  www.ginadami.co.

Read Gina’s blog at  ginadamico.wordpress.com.

Follow @ginadamico on Twitter.

Do you want a chance to win Croak by Gina Damico? Gina is giving away a signed ARC and a scythe pendant 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 a signed ARC of Croak and a scythe pendant ends Friday, December 16 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 on Monday to find out.

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