Monday, March 30, 2009

Interview: Sydney Salter - Author of the Soon-to-be-Released My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters

Hey there blog readers! Well it's Monday and you know what that's INTERVIEW TIME! Woohooo! This week our guest is the author of the almost-but-not-quite-yet-out book My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters. Let me tell after reading her responses, I know I'll be awaiting this title's release at my bookstore. And since I'm usually the one unpacking the books that gives me a bit of a step up. :)

Without further ado, here's Sydney Salter:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I love writing more than chocolate—and I really love chocolate. Sometimes I even send myself chocolates. Oh, you want me to talk about something besides chocolate? Okay. I live in Utah with my husband, two daughters, two dogs, two cats, and a pair of really cute tortoises. I’m lucky to be able to write full-time. If I were really lucky, I would be able to eat chocolate full-time (but I don’t have that kind of metabolism).

What got you started writing? What brought you to YA?

I started by keeping a daily diary in high school. Although it wasn’t particularly literary writing (way too much about boys), I do think it helped me develop my writing voice. I also learned to write without censoring myself.

I resisted writing for children at first because I wanted to be a “real” writer. Yet, the stories that my teachers and classmates enjoyed the most involved younger characters. I also continued to read YA and middle-grade fiction as an adult. I didn’t start writing for children until I had children. My first manuscript started as a way to teach my daughters about Mayan culture before our vacation to Mexico. I ended up writing, Jungle Crossing, a novel they weren’t old enough to read (it will be published by HM Harcourt in September 2009). After that I wrote another middle-grade manuscript, but soon switched to YA. I found that I gravitated toward YA novels in my own reading. And I had all those diaries full of inspiration for teen stories. My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters is my fourth manuscript.

Tell us about your most recent/ upcoming release?

Seventeen-year-old Jory Michaels wakes up on the first day of summer vacation with her same old big nose, no passion in her life (in the creative sense of the word), and all signs still pointing to her dying a virgin. In spite of her driving record (it was an accident!), Jory gets a job delivering flowers and cakes to Reno’s casinos and wedding chapels. She also comes up with a new summer goal: saving for a life-altering nose job. She and her new nose will attract a fabulous boyfriend. Jory survives various summer disasters like doing yoga after sampling Mom’s Cabbage Soup Diet, enforced-mother-bonding-with-crazy-nose-obsessed-daughter night, and discovering Tyler’s big secret. But will she learn to accept herself and maybe even find her passion, in the creative (AND romantic!) sense of the word?

Do you plot out in advance, or just start writing and see where things go from there?

I do some plotting in advance—it makes diving into those empty pages feel a little less scary. I have outlines that look like colorful rainbows, charts, and intertwining circles, but I used a calendar for My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters. I like to create a general sense of direction, but I always leave room for the characters to do what they want. When I started My Big Nose, for example, I was sure she would fall for an entirely different guy. Jory was, like, uh, no. That’s not happening.

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?

Okay, I have to admit that my characters will sometimes talk while I’m in the shower or wake me in the middle of the night. While I’m writing, I just kind of become my characters and lose myself in their voices and actions. I like to write in caf├ęs, and sometimes I worry that people think I’m crazy while I’m gesturing and making funny facial expressions as I really get into my characters. And, yes, my characters are stubborn like me. They tend to do what they want!

Who is your favorite character (of your own)?

Well, I do have a special fondness for Jory since I, too, spent my high school years hating my nose. Oh, and we both have driving issues, especially when it comes to delivery vans.

What hobbies do you have when you're not writing?

I love to read of course! I also enjoy hiking, skiing, cooking, baking, going to movies and rock concerts, and traveling. And when I’m traveling, I try to find excellent local chocolate!

If you had not become a writer what would you have done instead?

I might have stayed in school forever. I have a degree in English with a minor in Biology from Whitman College. I took writing classes at the University of Washington, women’s studies classes at North Seattle Community College, history and language classes at the University of Utah.... I love writing because I can satisfy my curiosity by researching novels, instead of collecting college credits.

Where can readers find you online?

Blogs: and

I love making new friends!

Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?

What do you think about your own nose? Oh, and for extra credit: where is the best chocolate in your hometown?

Thanks again so much Sydney! I had a lot of fun with your responses. :) Now for those of you reading this. It's time to get commenting. Sydney is offering up an autographed copy of My Big Nose to one lucky commentor.

Be sure to get your comments in by midnight central time and I'll hopefully be announcing the winner sometime tomorrow. Be sure to check back Tuesday for the winner announcement.


Lori T said...

Hi Sydney~

My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters sounds really good.

I really do not think to often about my nose, but I suppose that I do think it is a little too big. My little sister has the perfect cute little nose.

I do not know what the best chocolate is in town, but I do love chocolate.

Great interview.

Wendy Toliver said...

Hi Sydney! I can't wait to read your book. Fun interview.

Let's see. My nose. I like it. It's been broken twice. Once playing softball in the backyard. My dad was pitching. The other time was snowmobiling in West Yellowstone. Yes I was wearing a helmet. I'm just a little crazy in situations like that. So I had to have it fixed so I could breathe again. The doctor asked if I wanted to do anything different with it and I said no. So I'm very happy that it's straight again and I can breathe. :)
As for chocolate, there's this little gas station on the way to Logan, Utah that has the BEST chocolate-covered cinnamon bears in the world.

Lori said...

I like my nose. I think it is cute although I would prefer it if my nasal passage was not so "dainty" (the exact word my Dr used...LOL). I get way too many sinus infections. As for chocolate, that would have to be Berger cookies in Baltimore. They are absolutely amazing and they ship them nationwide! Check them out. You will be thanking me.

Paradox said...

I love the cover of My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters! It sounds great!

I'm pretty happy with my nose. It's not too big, small, pointy, flat, or pig-like. That's good enough for me.

And chocolate? I pretty much don't pay attention to it, because I hate the taste of chocolate. *gasp* Yes, I know it's bizarre. But it makes me gag.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

This book sounds so cute!

I think I can relate to the character because when I was a teen I hated my big nose, but I've grown to like it.

As for chocolate, there's a local chocolate place here but I haven't tried it yet. My favorite is in Chicago at Ethel's Chocolate. One location is a cute little house and the fondue is amazing!

Liyana said...

Ahh, that sounds like me! I'm waiting to find out how big a part her nose plays in the plot. ;)

As for my nose, on good days it looks small and dainty. But even then I feel self concious about it.

Llehn said...

I don't have a big nose but I do have big ears!!! But despite the tauntings, I would not change my ears for anything because they give me character!

I am a big sucker for anything from Cadbury. And possibly from Toblerone ... and maybe Hershey ... heh heh heh ...


HeatherMarie said...

Thank you everyone who stopped by to comment! I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow on the blog. Keep an eye out for the announcement. :)

Anonymous said...

I loved this interview! Its always fun to see where an author gets her ideas.
Can't wait to read this one!

Katie said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read this book! It sounds very realistic and like something I would enjoy. =]