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31 Days of Authors: Interview with Simone Elkeles

Teen Read Week is officially October 16th through 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you author interviews and profiles and reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us.

Today, we bring you an interview with Simone Elkeles.

All your books are realistic fiction, which can be a difficult genre to write, particularly in YA where realistic fiction doesn’t seem to get the prestige and accolades it deserves. Have you thought about switching genres or do you still find it challenging to you as a writer?

I love writing realistic fiction. My fans tell me they’re excited to read about people who are “real” and that my books are ones they can personally relate to. I love reading realistic fiction myself. I’ve thought of a few paranormal stories to tell, and I’ve read a lot of amazing paranormal stories, but right now I’m sticking where I’m comfortable – on Earth with humans!

The Perfect Chemistry series seems to be a hit with girls AND GUYS! Any advice to writers about getting the appeal factor just right so that it finds a home with every reader?

I had a lot of guy friends growing up, and in my ‘hood it was cool to be tough. Writing the tough-guy comes naturally to me, and my male readers love that. When I meet my male fans they ask me, “How do you know how we think?” It’s almost as if they don’t really believe a woman can “get” them, but yet they read my books and know that I peg their thoughts and actions and dialogue in my male characters. My advice to writers is to listen to guys and read your male dialogue out loud to see if it sounds like a girl (trying to sound like a guy) or realistic.

Chain Reaction is your latest release. Does it spell the end for this series or can we expect a spin-off?

Right now I’m going to take a break from the Fuentes family and write other books, but one day I hope to continue the Perfect Chemistry series. I love the family and just can’t say good bye to them permanently!

Does each new book get easier to write and if not, how do you overcome the challenges your characters or plots present to you?

No, it does not get easier. It’s actually harder, because every book I want to make better than the previous book. I am definitely my own worst critic. I feel a responsibility to my fans, and that creates pressure. It’s kind of hard to write and be super creative under pressure. When I get stuck, I call my friends and critique partners to talk with them about any struggles I’m having. Usually brainstorming with them helps!

So we all know you’re an uber-succesful writer! But what else do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time? What spare time? I’m a mom, wife, daughter, and Girl Scout leader. I don’t really have spare time. If I DID have spare time, I’d like to watch reality television and knit. I haven’t knit in years, but REALLY want to get back into it.

Perfect Chemistry has become a YA standard, especially for publishers to compare other books. What does it feel like to set the standard for romance, realism, and true chemistry?

Ha! I set the YA standard? That’s an awesome statement, and really feeds my ego. Thanks for that! I’m not ashamed to say that I love reading romance novels – I love getting the chills when I read about two people falling madly in love with each other. Nothing can be better. In romance novels I laugh and cry and sigh… just recreating that feeling for my own readers is a goal of mine and I’m so glad that my readers are so invested in my characters as I am.

What are some of the first words teen say when they meet you?

“I hated to read until I read Perfect Chemistry.”
“You’re a genius.” (I laugh at this one! – Obviously it’s not true.)

What are you currently reading?

Jane (a modern retelling of Jane Eye) and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I just got Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, who I hear is hilarious!

You happen to be a really, really great presenter! Any tips you can give to teens who are struggling with presentation nerves?

Just talk to the audience as if you’re talking to a friend. Also, don’t be afraid to make a fool out of yourself – I do it all the time and it just makes my presentations better! Being vulnerable and being able to laugh at yourself is the key (at least it works for me!).

— Sarah Wethern, currently reading Pearl by Jo Knowles.

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Sarah Wethern

One Comment

  1. I’ve had the opportunity to meet Simone a few times, and she has this enthusiastic spirit about her that is contagious. Her book are real, and I can not wait to read what she has in store next!

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