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2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: COUNTING BACKWARDS by Laura Lascarso

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 Counting Backwards by Laura LascarsoRead on to see how this author answered the Q&A… And be sure to enter to win a signed and personalized finished copy of Counting Backwards!

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.)

Laura Lascarso: Counting Backwards is about a girl who wants to escape—her home, her family, and even at times, herself.

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?

This novel wanted to be written again and again. The first draft of CB I wrote in 2007, which I submitted to agents, then rewrote it with the advice of one of those agents who ultimately passed. I then submitted that revised manuscript (CB 2.0) to Caryn Wiseman at Andrea Brown Literary. She took me on (squee!) and we then went to work on it again. We took CB 3.0 to editors in 2009, and it was picked up by Namrata Tripathi at S&S. Two years and three rewrites later, we have CB 6.0, which is by leaps and bounds better than my original story. My one word for new writers out there: Perseverance.

Then I took a nap.

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. 

I have three writing locales. One is my desk at home. I will not lie, I decluttered my desk before taking this photo to bring you the shining vision of order you see here.

My second spot is my critique partner’s house which is blessedly quiet with a full fridge and small library of fabulous YA and middle grade books.

The third is a coffee shop where they make the best café con leches around. Coffee + sugar = word magic.

My fantasy writing locale is this beach in Florida, though I won’t say which because I don’t want to play favorites.

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.

My ideal reader would be found in a high school gymnasium. There is a pep rally going on and everyone is screaming and chanting, but then, somewhere in the stands is that one teenager who is so engrossed in my book, that they’ve totally tuned out everything around them. They’re so into it, in fact, that they’re gnawing on their cuticles or chewing their hair in concentration. That’s my ideal reader.

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.

I think the most surreal/amazing moment was when I got my first look at the cover proofs. The Atheneum team was very gracious in letting me give my input as to how I envisioned the cover. They even let me choose the cover model, which was kind of incredible in itself—that they would set up a photo shoot with an actual model. The cover was important to me because I wanted it to represent the book well, and also because I’m a very visual person. The double image on this cover is both intriguing and revealing of Taylor’s character where denial is a big theme. The lighting also has an institutional feel, which is both subtle and relevant. With this cover I feel they carefully considered my input, and their delivery far exceeded my expectations.

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 take Kurt Vonnegut and Dr. Seuss on a road trip from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington. We’d decorate our tour van to represent their life’s work. One side would be a mural with the Lorax, Sneetches, Thing One and Thing Two… The other side would be aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. I’d record their discourse and post it on my blog so that the whole world could glean from it their brilliance. For sustenance, we’d eat peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches. And we’d sign some books too.

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.)

It’s a beautiful day for escaping.

Counting Backwards will be published by Atheneum / Simon & Schuster on August 14, 2012. Read on for a chance to win a signed and personalized finished copy of the hardcover!

Laura Lascarso is a writer of young adult fiction and companion to Lucy, a dog who not only gives great cuddles, but also knows the difference between how to lie and how to lay. 

Visit her at to find out more!

Follow @lauralascarso on Twitter.

The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner!

What is the last Summer 2012 debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back on Monday to find out.

16 thoughts on “2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: COUNTING BACKWARDS by Laura Lascarso

  1. Thank you for introducing me to Laura & her novel Counting Backwards. Excellent interview! And I loved the pictures Laura included.
    All the best,
    RK Charron

  2. I’d be that girl in the gym, focusing on the book instead of the pep rally!! Or the game.

    Your dog is beautiful!!

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

  3. Everyday I read your post and add another book to my to-read list. It’s sort of getting ridiculous how big the stack is now. What an awesome gift you’re giving, Nova, to these debut writers. Best of luck to them and to you!

  4. What a beautiful cover indeed! Thank you for sharing the process you went through in writing your novel. After all of that hard work, how can I not want to read it? And plus, I have the same exact calendar that you have on the wall above your desk.😉 Rock on fellow Hunger Games lover!!

  5. Your desk/work area is gorgeous, end of story.

    Thank you, Nova, for yet another great interview🙂

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