What got you started writing? What brought you to YA?
Since grade school, I've been a writer. I even wrote our fourth grade play. I still feel bad for how many times the poor kid playing Mitchell (I know, creative, right?) got whacked for my art.
I think I've always been YA, though. Even my screenwriting is YA- I wrote for the biggest teen filmmaking program in the US, Fresh Films, and all the ideas were submitted by our teen crews. I just think YA is more interesting- it's about exploring and exploding; books for adults tend to be about getting it together and keeping it together. That just doesn't excite me as much as a good explosion.
Tell us about your most recent/ upcoming release?
“Shadowed Summer” is my debut novel- it came out on February 10th, 2009. It's about Iris Rhame, who hears a ghost in the town cemetery, and goes off in search of a boy who disappeared years before she was born. She and her best friend Collette, along with Collette's crush, Ben, dig into the past and end up discovering that in a town as small as theirs, every secret is a family secret.
I think about things. It's nothing organized like plotting or outlining, but I think about things. Usually, for me, characters show up first in my head, so it's an act of playing with these new toys. Finding out who they are, what interests them, what secrets they have... Once I feel like I know them, I start playing with them on paper, and that's how I write my books.
Many authors have told me their characters talk to them, and sometimes even have different ideas of where the story should go than the author. Do you hear your characters?
Yes, I hear them. I don't actually talk about this a lot, because it offends some people, and other people just think you're froot loops with crazymilk, but I totally hear my characters. They talk to each other, they talk to me- and yes, a lot of times, they do what they want.
They're such a real presence in my head, that they can both wake me up, and make me laugh unexpectedly. Once, I started laughing in the middle of the night and my husband rolled over, shook my shoulder, and said right in my ear, “She has to go to sleep now. Shut up in there.”
That's one of the things that makes it so bittersweet for me to finish a book. When I'm done- they go away. Even when I re-read and revise, they never come back.
Who is your favorite character (of your own)?
That's really hard to say, because I have a lot of characters, and a lot of them who haven't made it to page or screen yet. But right now, my favorites are Brandon Beauchamp and Nathaniel Witherspoon. Hopefully, you'll get to meet Nate in my next book.
What hobbies do you have when you're not writing?
I collect things, in tiny batches, so I guess I collect collections. I have ten or fifteen t-shirts from various police Homicide units around the US. Thirty specialty Barbies lounge in their boxes in my attic. My canvas bag contains thirteen cross-stitch samplers I made.
The only ongoing collection I have is photographs of cemetery statuary, probably because that combines my enjoyment of visiting and exploring cemeteries with photography (and doesn't take up much room.) And I don't have so much time to do it as I used to, but I really enjoy reading and writing fan fiction.
If you had not become a writer what would you have done instead?
Whatever I had to. I've been in car sales, I've been a layout waxer for a newspaper (a job which no longer exists, thanks to desktop publishing and computers!) I've worked at cafeterias, processing checks at night for a monthly music club- I was even a phone psychic. Writing is my calling; everything else is a job.
Where can readers find you online?
You can always find me on my blog, Making Stuff Up for a Living, at www.saundramitchell.com/blog, but you can always Twitter me http://twitter.com/saundramitchell, or catch up with me on Myspace http://www.myspace.com/saundramitchell. But just so you know- you have to allow filmmakers to friend you on Myspace to add me!
Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?
Who do you think would win in a fight- Edward Cullen or Batman?