1. What impressed me about Miles from Ordinary was the way you explored so many emotions in such a short time frame. Is it easier to write about the dark, haunting and scary emotions or the lighter, more naive ones?
For me, it's easiest to write whatever I feel truly invested in at the time. So if I want to write a funny book, and I'm really feeling like a funny book is what wants to come out, that's the easiest book to write. That said, I have to admit it's easier to be happy when writing a happy book! Whenever I write sad stories I feel sort of down. In fact, after writing two or three dark novels in a row, I always feel the need to write something lighter, just so I, myself, felt happier. I've been feeling that way for a while--gotta write something funny!
2. Another aspect I loved about your book was the way you created such tense and chilling moods and atmospheres. What is your secret? What do you think is the most important thing for writers to remember when trying to create such scenes?
This is such a wonderful compliment! Thank you! Every character I write I can kind of see in my head. I often ask myself how I would feel in a particular situation--and write that way for the character. As well, I know what's it's like to feel frightened, or to feel alone at home or at school. I borrow emotions from one incident (like when I heard my daughter's friend had been killed) and use that borrowed emotion in a situation that would call for grief.
3. The various emotionally-charged relationships presented in this book definitely stood out to me, whether it was the tentative one between Lacey and Aaron or the intense one between Lacey and her mother. Do you start writing with these relationships in mind, or do they develop as you write?
Absolutely, everything develops as I write. I rarely know the end of a book--and certainly not the middle. I write to find out what will happen to a character. In this book I knew about John and Mr. Dewey because they were at my local library. I also knew I wanted the book to take place in less than a day. I knew there would be an uncomfortable situation with some kind of mental disturbance but I had no idea what. I'm not a plotter. I'm a searcher, a finder.
4. How did you decide on the title "Miles from Ordinary"? I read in an earlier interview the project was tentatively called "Lost in Peace", what made you change it?
My wonderful editor came up with that title. In the more than 20 books I've written, only a few have not had a title change. I'm just not very good with titles, I guess.
5. Lacey is 14 in this book and in The Chosen One, Kyra is 13. Why did you write about younger characters (on the YA spectrum) dealing with such serious issues, as opposed having an older protagonist? In your opinion, how relevant is the age of the characters?
I believe my true voice is about 11-13-ish. Before my first young adult novel was published, I wrote middle grade novels. But the topics have become more intense as you mentioned. If I write up, older, my characters sound like they are way too young. That's because my natural voice is younger. And kids are going through tough, tough things, hard times.
6. Lacey and Kyra get to hang out for a day (let's pretend it is a care-free kind of day for both of them). Where would they go and what would they do?
They'd probably get something yummy to eat at Applebee's. Then Lacey would teach Kyra to dance (Yes, I think she's a dancer--to some good hard rock stuff!) and Kyra might teach Lacey how to play a bit of Schubert's Serenade. They would stay up all night long laughing and talking about boys. And probably Laura would be invited to hang out with them!
7. I still remember the first lines in The Chosen One: "If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa.". It is definitely up there with my favourites. Could you share some of your own favourite opening sentences?
Well, no one can ever leave out M. T. Anderson's Feed. "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." I also LOVE the beginning of Thirsty. Gorgeous! Then there's Louise Plummer's first line in A Dance for Three: "Milo wasn't the first boy to kiss me but he was the first one to bite me." "Me, I get fixated on something and I can't help myself." That's Robert Cormier in Tenderness. Gosh, I could go on and on. But I won't!
8. Oh, I just LOVE those lines! Lastly, could you tell us which 2011 YA novels you would recommend the most, or which ones you are excited to read?
What ever Jandy Nelson's next book will be--I can't wait to get my hands on that. I'd love to read Emily Wing Smith's newest When You Were Easier to Love and Holly Black's Red Glove and Kathleen Duey's third book in A Resurrection of Magic series. I'm hoping Martine Leavitt has something coming out soon. Also, Alane Ferguson is working on something really terrific and I can't WAIT to see that!
Thank you so much for the interview, Carol. I loved your answers. "No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one."-- I so agree :) If you haven't read her books, I'd definitely recommend that you do!
Buy* Miles from Ordinary: Amazon.com / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble / Indiebound / Indigo.ca
Miles from Ordinary
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....
*I get no profit from the links
My review of Miles from Ordinary, The Chosen One