2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: ZOE LETTING GO by Nora Price

It’s time for more in the Summer 2012 YA Debut Interview Series, featuring debut YA authors who’ve written books I am absolutely dying to read. I’ve chosen eleven (yes, 11 this time!) debuts to feature, and I hope by the end of this series you’ll be as excited about these books as I am.

Today’s Summer 2012 YA Debut is Zoe Letting Go by Nora PriceRead on to see how this author answered the Q&A… And be sure to enter to win a signed ARC (advance reading copy) of Zoe Letting Go!

Nova Ren Suma: 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?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Nora Price: While at a clinic receiving treatment for anorexia, Zoe is instructed to write letters. Through letters, she tells her mother and brother about the clinic; the doctors, the food, her struggle to get better. But she tells her best friend Elise about the strange goings on around her, the shady relationships, the dark mysteries. When the lights go out, the place turns into someplace else.

While her mother and brother write back, their letters filled with cheerful encouragement—Zoe’s letters to Elise remain unanswered. As Zoe struggles to understand why her best friend would cut her off, she must unravel the secrets that surround her in the clinic.

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? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave?

My novel was like a sassy toddler who refuses to get into the bathtub. I spent a lot of time chasing it.

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. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it. 

Cafés are appealing because I get lonely writing at home. There’s a tiny, secret French café near my house where I can usually nab a corner table (Photo below!). I used to work in the service industry, so I am very careful to leave at least a dollar tip each time I buy something to eat or drink. It’s like paying rent.

I also adore Ashley’s Café in San Francisco, where Ashley makes organic chocolate chip cookies that are crispy on the outside and molten on the inside. It’s basically the cookie version of that Drake song “Best I Ever Had” (You know a lot of cookies be thinkin’ my songs are about them / This is not to get confused, this one’s for you / Cookie, you my everything, you all I ever wanted)

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could picture devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

A girl in her bedroom, curled up safe and happy. That’s my ideal reader.

Some of my loveliest afternoons have involved a good book, a cup of coffee, and a cat wound up into a tortellini-shaped bundle at my side. On some days, you really don’t need more than that. I love how it feels to melt into somebody else’s world.

Publishing a novel is full of high points, low points, absolutely surreal points, and shocking points you never thought you’d see in your lifetime. Tell us a high point, a low point, a surreal point, and something shocking or at least somewhat surprising about your experience so far.

High point: Writing the first sentence.

Low point: Writing the last sentence.

Surreal point: Seeing the cover for the first time.

As for surprising—what shocked me was the physical effort involved in writing a book. The fact that my brain was a pile of oatmeal by the end of a writing day—well, that wasn’t surprising. But I did not expect my legs to be cramped, my muscles to ache, and my middle right finger to develop a dime-sized callus (I write by hand).  After all, I was just sitting in a chair, not moving except to refill my tea. It remains a mystery.

During moments of unbearable agony, I would walk to a nearby candy shop and load up on chocolate Pop Rocks. Pop Rocks stimulate the brain—it’s scientific!

I have a big sweet tooth.

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. That’s an easy one. Second would be Betty MacDonald, who wrote the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. What both women have in common is that they each had a delightful sense of fun and a confident way with mystery stories.

As for a snack, I would serve individual jars of peanut butter with a spoon for each guest who was nice enough to show up, because peanut butter is nutritious and you can eat it like a cat (with frequent licks). I would be sure to offer a choice of chunky or smooth, since we all have strict opinions on that matter.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

I have learned not to trust my memory on certain matters.

Zoe Letting Go will be published by Razorbill/Penguin on June 28, 2012. Read on for a chance to win a signed ARC!

Nora Price is a twenty-three-year-old writer living in Brooklyn. Zoe Letting Go is her first novel.

Visit her at noraprice.tumblr.com to find out more!

Follow @noraprice on Twitter.

The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner!

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

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