Today I've got Robin Mellom with me, talking about her debut YA novel, Ditched, which is sure to brighten up the grey, dull days that I'm sure we're all tiring of. I know I am, after having ten glorious days off over Christmas I'm definitely not best pleased to be back at work.
I featured Ditched in my 'Debut novels I can't wait for in 2012' post in December and I'm happy to say we only have to wait four short days until the book is released on the 10/01/2012 in the US - of course, us non-US types can order Ditched from Amazon or The Book Depository.
Hi, Robin! In case any readers haven’t heard about the book yet, can you tell me a little bit about Ditched?
How about a quick summary! A 16-year-old girl finds herself lying in a ditch the morning after her prom with no memory of the last twelve hours, which includes a disappearing prom date and a punk Tinkerbell tattoo. She must piece together—stain-by-stain on her thrift store dress—exactly how she ended up dateless…with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven.
Talk me through an average day when you’re working on a novel. Do you have a set number of words you have to write per day or do you set yourself different targets?
It depends, of course, on whether I’m drafting a new novel or experiencing “the crazies” of revisions due on deadline. On a typical drafting day, I give myself a page count, usually 5-8 pages a day. Deadline days usually mean 12-14 hours of working-while-eating-junk-food.
In young adult fiction in particular, it’s important that readers bond with the characters - what do you think is the most important thing to get right when you're creating a character?
I love when characters have things they love and don’t love. They are small details that define us and become almost comforting. In my own life, my friends and family know that I will never drink coffee that is lukewarm—if it’s not practically scorching, it’s worthless. And if you quote a line from the movie The Jerk, I will love you. So it’s awesome to know book characters in small ways as well as BIG ways.
The YA book market is a competitive place, what do you think sets Ditched apart from the pack?
I focused on humor and romp. I wanted it to be entertaining—just an overall good time. There are moments of tenderness, but mostly it’s about tattoos and Chihuahuas and run-ins with the police. Maybe Romp-i-ness could be the new Dystopian?
Some writers relate take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what artists/bands do you like to listen to while you write?
Yes! I have several stations on Pandora I listen to while writing and, strangely, it’s not usually music I listen to in my *personal life. When I write, I need upbeat dance music so I rely on Britney Spears and Rihanna to get me through.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you always been this way?
Both. I get an idea and just start writing—usually a couple of chapters so I can get a feel for the voice and if it’s something I’m truly excited about. THEN I sit down and outline the snot out of it! But my outlines often change as I write the book.
Can you tell me a bit about your journey with Ditched? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
I had written five other novels before writing Ditched, mostly middle grade. My agent came to me and said she’d like to see me try teen humor for girls. The process of writing this book and getting it published was rather dreamy (thank goodness!). It took me about 5-6 months to write it. Within in weeks of submitting there were three publishers interested and within a month I had accepted a 2-book offer from Disney-Hyperion. (It still freaks me out to say that!)
How important do you think social media (i.e. Twitter/Facebook/blogging) is in today’s market for a writer?
It’s important to have a way for readers/writers/friends to connect with you and to keep you sane! I write at home full time now, so Twitter/Facebook have become like my personal water cooler—a place to chat and decompress and find out other wonderful news. What a cool thing! The only downside, obviously, is if it impedes on your writing time but having a writing deadline will take care of that quick!
What did you hope to accomplish by writing Ditched? Do you think you have accomplished what you set out to do?
I want readers to have a good time and come away with a smile, even while maybe shedding a tear. According to my mom, I accomplished that! :)
Aside from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
We live on a bay in California so if I’m not in my office, you can find me kayaking or hiking. And then watching Modern Family. And then The Daily Show. And then waiting for The Hunger Games movie.
Thank you so much for your time, Robin. Before you go, could you tell me about any projects you have in the pipeline we can look out for?
I have a middle grade series coming out from Disney-Hyperion in June called THE CLASSROOM—it’s a mockumentary of life in 7th grade (oh, the awkwardness!) and then the companion novel for DITCHED comes out winter ’13…someone goes to jail in BUSTED!
Thanks for interviewing me!