Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Dahlia Adler, whose YA contemporary BEHIND THE SCENES comes out today!
About BEHIND THE SCENES:
High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.
Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
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BA: So, of course, I have to ask: what inspired this east coast girl to write a book about Hollywood?
DA: I wish I could remember! I know I was coming off of having shelved a book that was really character driven, and feeling like that had really hurt me in the query process, so I was determined to write something more plot driven. I know I originally thought I’d do a celebrity POV, but then thought it’d be so much more interesting to do her best friend’s instead (there are more of these now, but it was a rarity back then, I swear!), but…that’s where the memories end!
BA: BtS is such an addictive read that the complexity of the story almost takes you by surprise. How much of this story was planned or outlined prior to drafting? Were there any characters who took on a life of their own?
DA: This book was outlined to death far more than any other book of mine, because it was my first time doing NaNoWriMo. We’re talking eleven pages, single-spaced. And from the material that was produced during the first draft, there actually haven’t been tons of revisions. However, I added a ton during each of two rounds, so while I outlined tightly for the original 67K, another 21K came out of revisions that were completely out of nowhere.
As for characters, yes—Josh. Josh was supposed to be in the book for, like, five seconds. But as soon as he got the mic, he was just…on. Could not shut him up. And of course, he ended up being most early readers’ favorite.
BA: One of my favorite things about BtS was the focus on Ally and Vanessa’s efforts to navigate a complicated friendship, even as romantic and career developments threaten to come between them. Did you find that any of your own experiences with friends were reflected in their relationship?
DA: There’s definitely nothing in BtS that was pulled from any of my personal friendships, but the general concept of being overshadowed by your best friend is something I can relate to. Waaaay more than I’d like to admit.
BA: Another thing I adored about this book: your thoughtful, careful attention to diversity issues. Most notably, Ally often speaks candidly about Vanessa’s experiences finding work as an Asian-American actress. What inspired you to give this issue extra attention?
DA: So, Vanessa Park was actually originally Vanessa Parker, back when I was just starting to draft. I always sort of fish around in my brain to see if I can mentally fancast any of my characters, and as I was doing it this time, I realized that my whole book was super white. So I thought about fancasting with an Asian-American actress, and realized I couldn’t think of a single one for Vanessa. I promptly turned her into Vanessa Park and then unleashed my feelings on the utter ridiculousness of that throughout BtS, because seriously? How is that even possible? It shouldn’t be.
BA: I know I’m not the first person to mention this, but Ally’s love interest, Liam, is down-to-earth, smart, and ABSURDLY hot. (Wait. Wait. Interview will resume after the interviewer stops swooning.) Any thoughts about how Liam has managed to cause such a sensation among your adult readers?
DA: Ha, my CPs just might be willing to fight you for him! It was actually really strange for me to write a love interest who’s kind of a physically perfect specimen; that’s really not my preference. But Liam really had to be, and it’s hard to argue with flawlessness. And good abs. Good abs are really key.
BA: And in your interview with One Four Kid Lit, you mentioned that Liam is physically based on Matt Lanter. (Pause for additional swooning). Who, if anyone, do you picture in your head when you think of Ally and Vanessa?
DA: No one really. I have a weird thing against strongly picturing my main characters, and for some reason this was particularly true for Ally. If you said I had to choose one on pain of death, I’d probably say Lyndsay Fonseca (circa How I Met Your Mother) for Ally and Jamie Chung (circa her season of The Real World) for Vanessa.
BA: You’ve written several books, including two more scheduled to release from Spencer Hill in 2015! In what ways has your writing process stayed fairly consistent over time? How does it tend to change from book to book?
DA: I’ve done really different things with my books in terms of POV since BtS, and that will throw consistency right out the window. For every part of my process I could tell you remains the same, it’ll be a lie for one of my books. BtS was really heavily outlined, and I never did that again, because the next time I tried, I ended up deviating from it every five seconds. I try to be consistent in not editing while I write, but I’ve had a couple of manuscripts throw me early on, and then with the help of my CPs acting as alpha readers, I’ve made exceptions there too. I have a rule about not writing out of order…and then I went ahead and did it. My feeling is that you just have to do what’s begging to be done. It makes a world of difference when you just go with your gut.
BA: Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favorite scene in BtS to write? What scene gave you the most trouble?
DA: Hmm, good question…I wrote some of them so much more recently than others that it’s hard to be sure! My favorite scenes to write are always either kissing or fighting (and a lot of my scenes include both), so I’d say probably either the first kiss between Ally and Liam, or the first time he comes over, or the night before he goes to Berlin…yeeeeah, there was a lot to enjoy writing in this book!
As for the most trouble, I’d say probably the scenes with Lucy. I’d never written a younger sibling before, and have no experience with them, so those were a struggle for me.
BA: I know you’re a voracious reader and a huge contemporary YA fangirl. What has it been like having fans and supporters of your own? And what would be the ultimate author fantasy moment for you?
DA: You know what’s terrible? I’ve had people be utterly wonderful about my book, and my reaction is always, “(S)he’s just being nice because (s)he’s a nice person,” or something along those lines. Supporters’ capacity for kindness is pretty amazing. So for me, the ultimate author fantasy is anything that’s really incontrovertible proof that someone who didn’t have to love my book for any reason just…did. Especially a reluctant reader. I think having a book that appeals to reluctant readers is an amazing thing.
BA: Your fans know that you juggle multiple professional identities – you’re an editor, a prolific blogger, and – OFFICIALLY – a published young adult author. Beyond your exceptional time management skills, what keeps you sane during the crazy parts of this process?
DA: Deadlines, to-do lists, and close friends. The first two help me organize my brain and are tremendously helpful to me, but it’s really the close friends that make me function. I have the world’s most incredible CPs, who manage to make me feel like all my stuff is worth reading, and who are always willing to alpha, beta, talk things out, and cheerlead. I also have a couple of friends who are just tremendous at letting me talk about my emotional crazy. And I have to give the world’s biggest shoutout here to Fearless Fifteener Maggie Hall, because she is in both of those categories, and is there for me literally every single day, even when traveling the world. I have no idea where I’d be without her.
And my husband. Not to be a cliché, but my husband is pretty much the greatest rock I could ask for.
BA: Since this is an official Fearless Fifteeners interview, my last question is, as always: what is one thing you’re afraid of? What is one thing you’re not afraid of?
DA: I’m afraid of driving—I don’t have a license, and I honestly don’t know when I’ll get one, even though I clearly need one.
I’m not afraid of being myself. I don’t always love what I do or how I feel, but I’m very grateful to be someone who can comfortably tell you everything I am. Or, you know, tweet it.
Thanks so much for the interview, Dahlia, and congratulations on your debut!
Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a YA author and blogger at every spare moment in between. You can find her on Twitter at @MissDahlELama, and blogging at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and Barnes & Noble. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves. Behind the Scenes is her debut novel.
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|Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, D.C. She now lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son. Her debut novel, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, will be released from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in April of 2015. Follow Becky on Twitter at @beckyalbertalli.