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Monday, January 3, 2011

Author Interview: Flynn Meaney

Today we're joined by YA author Flynn Meaney, author of Bloodthirsty, which I reviewed here. Bloodthirsty, which follows high schooler Finbar Frame as he takes on an Edward-Cullen-esque persona in order to grab the attention of the fairer sex, was one of my favorite books of 2010. Flynn herself is a real treat to talk to, as well! She's super nice and funny, as you'll see in the interview, and cute to boot! Leave some comments for her, especially in regard to the questions she asks you guys!

Here's a little bit about Flynn from her Facebook page:
Flynn Meaney is an alumna of the University of Notre Dame and is currently a poetry student in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing program. Bloodthirsty emerged out of Flynn's broad love of pop culture vampires and her friend Lucila's comment: "Now that vampires are so hot, we can stop tanning." Lucila's observation made Flynn think about how the paranormal craze would benefit the pale and thin teens who would have suffered during the Baywatch years.
Flynn is currently working on her second novel, coming Fall 2011.
And now, for the interview!
1. Tell us what inspired Bloodthirsty
Who wouldn't love this?
Bella Swan, for one.
My friend Lucila and I go the library all the time and for a while, Lucila was really into the vampire thing and kept taking out books from different series, like House of Night and Blue Bloods and such. I was never an intense as her, but I was a True Blood fan. And we started talking about how these vampire heartthrobs were so different from the Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell type hottie who was outgoing and tan and athletic. I’ve always been interested in what makes things trendy or makes people popular, and so I came up with the idea of a guy using this craze to his advantage.

2. As a woman, was it difficult to channel a teenage boy to write from Finbar's point of view? It’s funny, I read some review of my book that said something like, “I hate when adults try to write like teenagers.” I was actually twenty-one when I wrote Bloodthirsty, so I had been a teenager two years before. And, as a young author, I was really against “dumbing down” my writing just because it was a YA book. I have lots of faith in teenagers—I think they are very aware of the world around them, of pop culture, of politics.

Writing as a boy actually came pretty easily. I think because I’m able to observe the way guys act and talk from a sort of distance, in a more detached way. With Finbar, even though he’s not the stereotypical alpha male, I honed in on physical actions going on in scenes because I think guys are more action-oriented, and I streamlined his thought process so it was focused on his single, strongest emotion rather than several conflicting emotions (the way I usually feel!).

Right now, for my second book, I’m writing from one male perspective and one female perspective, and the female is actually harder, because I have trouble separating my character’s perceptions of the world from my own!

3. What surprised you the most about the publishing process?  I guess how long the process is from selling a book to actually seeing the book in a store. A lot of my friends are reading the book now, and they’ll text me something they liked about it, and I won’t even remember writing that part. I spent so much time editing Bloodthirsty that I’m sick of it. I don’t want to look at the thing. It makes me cringe!

Tender Is the Night

4. What is your favorite literary work of all time and why?  I’m re-reading Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it is just such an incredible novel. I purposely started reading it during winter because the beginning is so atmospheric and luxurious; it makes me feel like I’m lounging on the beaches of the French Riviera! The rest of it is somewhat of a downer, but beautiful, beautiful, beautiful language. Almost poetic.

5. Bloodthirsty gets optioned for a movie. Who is your dream cast?
Actually, on my Facebook, I made an album of pictures of “potential Finbars.” Just for fun. So check it out! I looked for a lot of English or Irish actors, because I think they have the right coloring. In my album, Skandar Keynes from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe got a lot of “votes” from my Facebook friends. He’s got a great Finbar face—he just needs contacts for blue eyes! I could also see Aaron Johnson from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging as a handsome Finbar, or a Luke—although I always pictured Luke with blonde hair for some reason. Does he have blonde hair? I don’t remember how I described him.

For the girls, I think Martha MacIsaac and Aviva were both so funny in Superbad. I’d love to see one of them as Jenny. I’m not sure about Kate. Is there a younger Tina Fey out there? That’s how I picture Kate. Suggestions anyone?

6. How much of your characters is a reflection of yourself or someone you know?
I love creating characters waaaay too much to ever write a character lifted straight from real life. But sometimes I use a real person as a starting point, usually an acquaintance, someone I’ve met a few times, not a close friend. Something about their body language, their energy, attitude, or way of speaking will inspire me and I’ll borrow that to start making a character. But as soon as I take ownership of it, I get to create the motivations and backstory that go with it, and the character gets a life of his/her own.

I definitely borrow quirks from me and people I know, though, and throw them into the characters I’m creating. For Finbar’s mom, I used my own paranoia about germs. For a character in my next book, I’m using my paranoia about being killed by a serial killer. Wow, I’m quite neurotic!

7. What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m writing my second book right now for Little, Brown. It’s kind of a high school romantic comedy. After that, I’d love to branch out to something a little different. Maybe something with more action or suspense or mystery. I saw the trailer for the new movie Little Red Riding Hood and that started me thinking about retelling a myth or fairy tale in a modern way. Maybe a Celtic myth? Again, suggestions from YA readers would be great!!

Reader Questions:
1. From Stacy: I would be interested to know about your writing techniques - how extensively you outline/plan out your books and what your writing schedule is like.
This is a great question. I would actually like to sit down a lot of authors who write more plot-driven books and get some of their secrets! I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I’m completely blown away by J.K. Rowling’s ability to create plots and to plant little clues books ahead of time. She has these characters that seem very minor, and then in a crucial moment they will become integral. Like—SPOILER ALERT—through six books, Draco Malfoy’s mom just seems like his mom. Then she turns out to play an integral role in the final battle. I love cool twists like that. Or how throughout the books everyone says things like, “Dumbledore must have a concrete reason for trusting Snape,” and you don’t find out what it is until the very end.

My books tend to be more character focused and less plot-driven, mostly because I’m still learning the art of plot. But I definitely have to plan. I’m writing my second book now, and I have an eleven-page outline for it consisting of thirty-eight chapters, each summarized in one paragraph. This book takes place over a year, so I have the chapters grouped by month.

Along with that, I’ve printed out a stack of monthly calendars to keep track of what events happen on which days, which make it easier to throw in things like, “We’d been dating for two weeks when…” because I can glance at the calendar and see when they started dating and how long it’s been. Keeping track of time is kind of difficult, but it’s important to use weather and elapsed time to orient your reader at the start of a new chapter, so I use my calendars for that.

Times like now, when I’ve got a deadline, I write every day. Usually three or four pages a day is all I can do before my creativity is maxed out.

2. From Cici: Do you feel any deep personal connection to any of your characters? If so, what connects you to the character?
I wrote Bloodthirsty pretty quickly—in about a month—so I didn’t have too much time to fall in love with those characters. But I’ve written characters before that I’ve become very attached to, and I think that’s because, as the author, you get to create the inside and the outside of the character. You can write someone who acts like an arrogant jerk to other characters, but who is insecure and sweet and vulnerable on the inside, so you feel protective of them. It’s just like in real life—the better you get to know someone, the better you understand what makes them act like they do, and the better you like them.

With the second book that I’m writing now, I wrote my first draft to feel my way into the book. One very minor character who I just threw in as background, he kind of took on a life of his own. He sort of jumped off the page and begged me for more attention. I sent my first draft to my editor with notes, one of which was: “I like this guy—should I do more of him?” and she agreed. So in the second draft, he’s played a bigger role.

3. From Vivien: Did you have to do any research for your book?
Not really. I literally went on Wikipedia (the worst place to research!) and typed in “books about vampires,” and got a big list to use for Finbar’s reading material. Finbar did more research than I did! I also looked a little bit into vampire traits like fear of garlic, etc, but obviously nothing too far beyond common sense.

Quick Picks:
Best book you've read this year? The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell

Best movie you've seen this year? Either The Social Network or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Not very original, I know.

Favorite place you've traveled to recently? Seattle

Best new food you've tried? Duck—in curry sauce. But I love anything in curry sauce.

Last thing you made with your hands? (besides the books you've written of course!) I knit a sweater as a baby gift.

Biggest risk you've taken this year? White-water rafting. My mom told me I would drown, but obviously I survived the rapids.

Favorite non-writing activity? Anything on the beach (in the summer), or ice-skating (in the winter).

You can check out Flynn on Facebook, the Bloodthirsty website and her author website, which is under construction. You can purchase Bloodthirsty from the Things Liz Loves Amazon Store link on the left.

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