Monday, July 5, 2010

Author Interview: Swati Avasthi

It's another Monday and I have another fabulous author interview for you. Allow me to introduce Swati Avasthi, author of Split. (photo credit Ann Marsden)

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a mother of two, teacher of many, and aspiring toward having a long, long writing career.

  1. What got you started writing? What brought you to YA?
I started writing when I was 5 when I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. I was pretty committed to being a writer until I was 16 and my oldest sister graduated from college. When she met the real world of needing to earn a paycheck, I quickly came to the conclusion that I couldn't possibly become a writer and eat. So, I ventured away from writing and took a couple of detours (theater and law) before I returned to writing when I decided to stay home to raise my kids.

The novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, brought me to YA. It was the first YA novel I read since I was a teen and I was blown away by the book and by how much the genre had changed. I read Godless by Pete Hautman immediately after Speak and fell head over heels in love with the genre -- the honesty of it, the play in the language, how voice-driven it is, how it is geared toward story and character development.

  1. Tell us about your most recent/ upcoming release?
Split (Knopf, 2010) is narrated by 16 year old Jace Witherspoon who drives straight from Chicago to Albuquerque on the night he finally hits his father back. He arrives on the doorstep of his brother, Christian, who he hasn't had any contact with in five years and who receives Jace less than enthusiastically. Jace tries to make a new life for himself -- connecting with Christian, finding a new job, meeting a new girl. But all of his changes can't rescue his mom, who is still trapped with his dad, or erase the secret he has been harboring.

Split is about what happens after. After you've said enough, after you've gotten out. How do you begin to live again?

  1. Do you plot out in advance, or just start writing and see where things go from there?
I plot out some in advance. I know my start and have a sense of my climax. Other than that, I start writing.

  1. 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?
Yep, I'm one of the nearly-crazies. In fact, I know I've hit my stride in a book when my characters surprise me. In Split, there's a point at which Jace gets really angry and I was shocked to discover 1) that he was mad and 2) why he was mad. My writer's group thought that was so funny because they knew he was mad all along. It's like I get sucked so deeply inside my protagonist's head that if he has a blind spot, I do too. It takes me a second or even a third draft before I can step back out and see the book as a whole.

  1. Who is your favorite character (of your own)?
Probably Dakota. She's smart and centered and has far less baggage than any of my other characters and I really enjoyed writing the flirtations between her and Jace.

  1. What hobbies do you have when you're not writing?
Maybe, once the second book is done, I'll get back to knitting and playing the piano. But for now, for downtime, I tend to play too many facebook games.

  1. If you had not become a writer what would you have done instead?
I'd have been an attorney. I love the law. I really liked working at the domestic violence clinic and enjoyed the first year of law school. I think law and writing are closely related: you tell a story, are steeped in the uses of language, and hope for a specific outcome.

  1. Where can readers find you online?

  1. Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?
I'd love to know whether your readers' reading habits are seasonal? I've often heard that lighter fare is great for the summer. Is that true for your readers? If so, what are some book fall/winter books that you enjoy reading? As for me, I prefer to read inside, so I'm partial to the rainy day reading mode and of course, I tend toward darker fare.

Thanks so much for stopping by today Swati. Personally I don't notice a change in my reading from season to season, but I certainly do have moods where I want something dark or light, or moods where I switch from one genre to another. What about the rest of you? What do you think?

And for a treat, here's the book trailer for Split.  


1 comment:

Kelsey said...

Great interview! I'm even more eager to read Split now :)