Interview by Nicole Melanson ~
Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times best-selling, award-winning, author of 21 novels including: The Immortals, The Riley Bloom, and The Soul Seekers series.
With 8 New York Times bestsellers in 2 years, and over 8 million copies in print, her books have been translated into 36 languages, sold in over 50 countries, and made the New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Wall Street Journal, NCIBA, and Walmart Bestsellers lists. They have won numerous awards such as: the National Reader’s Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Stuff for the Teen Age, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, and Reviewer’s Choice 2007 Top Ten; they have also appeared on the CBS Early Show’s “Give the Gift of Reading” segment and been selected for Seventeen magazine’s “Hot List” and Beach Book Club Pick.
Chosen as one of OC Metro magazine’s “20 Women to Watch,” Alyson has been nominated for the Orange County Business Journal’s “Women in Business Awards” as well as their “Excellence in Entrepreneurship” award. The dramatic rights for her adult novel, Fly Me to the Moon, were optioned by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, with Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’ Diary) set to write and direct, while the dramatic rights for all 4 books in The Soul Seekers were optioned by Cheyenne Enterprises.
Born and raised in Orange County, California, she’s lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan and is now settled back in Southern California where she’s working on her new YA series, Unrivaled (Harper Collins), set to debut in summer 2016, and a new MG, Kiss My Wish (Random House), set to debut fall 2016.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. I was 12 at the time, and though I wrote a lot of bad poetry and short stories through the years, I didn’t get serious about writing until just after the tragic events of 9/11 when I was working as a flight attendant and living in NYC. It was a time of great change that forced me to own up to the fact that I’d spent way too much time talking about my dream, and not enough time pursuing it. So I signed up for an online writing class, and began work on my debut novel, Faking 19. It took two and a half years of writing, revising, submitting to publishers, getting rejected, and revising again before I landed my first book deal. I’ve now written 23 books, 21 are in stores, 2 are in production, and I have many more in the works.
WHAT IS YOUR LATEST BOOK OR CURRENT PROJECT?
I’m currently working on a new YA series, Unrivaled, set in the fast-paced world of LA nightclubs, where three teens get caught up in a high-stakes competition and the desperate measures they take to win that make them suspects in a mysterious crime. The story is edgy, sexy, glamorous, gritty, mysterious, romantic, suspenseful, and I’m having so much fun writing it! The first book in the series is set to debut in summer 2016. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
I’m also working on a new middle grade novel, Kiss My Wish, about eighth-grader Nick Dashaway, whose Christmas request doesn’t quite go according to plan. It’s a cautionary tale on being careful of what you wish for mixed with the spirit of the beloved classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Set to debut in fall 2016.
WHAT IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?
I write from my home office, which has everything I need to create. Purple walls, big desk, comfy chair, overflowing bookshelves, large computer screen, gifts and letters from readers, and a steaming cup of green tea and a scented candle always at the ready!
WHEN DO YOU WORK? WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
I put in very long hours seven days a week and often write on holidays as well—but I have the best job in the world, so I’m not complaining! Even when I’m not at my desk, I feel like I’m still writing. Everything I do, everywhere I go, I’m constantly watching, thinking, jotting down notes—you never know where inspiration for the next story will hit.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I like to start with a general outline, (I use the Beat Sheet from Blake Snyder’s amazingly useful book Save The Cat) listing all the major turning points along the way, which is sort of like a roadmap that leads me to my final destination AKA The End. Though I still allow plenty of open road so the journey can take an alternate route if I choose. It took me a while to find my process. The key is to try varying techniques and see which fits best.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
I love creating new worlds and characters to inhabit them. I love communicating big life questions and ideas through storytelling. I also find writing really cathartic. Writing The Immortals series helped me overcome the grief of losing several loved ones. Also, creating characters who go through some of the hardships I experienced as a kid—bullying, parent’s divorcing—helps me not only make sense of that time, but also to hopefully reach readers who are going through the same things, and help them to navigate it in a much better way than I did.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Most of my stories are based on personal experience—I steal from my own life all the time, and my motto is: If it didn’t kill me, I will find a way to write about it!
As for who inspires me—I’m inspired by any author who manages to forge a long-term career in this business. It’s so much harder than it looks!
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
The biggest challenge in writing always lies in the difficulty of trying to translate the book-movie I see in my head into actual words on the page that will hopefully provide the reader with those same images and feelings that inspired the story.
WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC OR PROFESSIONAL VISION?
It’s a great time to be a reader and writer of YA, and I hope to continue writing for as long as people are willing to read me. I absolutely love what I do.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE AUTHORS?
I have so many favorites it’s impossible to list them all, though I’ve recently read and enjoyed books by Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty, Gillian Flynn, Cheryl Strayed, Mary Pearson, Kimberly Derting, Jandy Nelson…the list is endless!
WHICH FEMALE AUTHORS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE INTERVIEWED ON WORDMOTHERS NEXT?
All of the above!
Thank you, Alyson Noël!
— Nicole Melanson
* Author photo by Ineke Oostveen
Like this interview? Follow WordMothers or Subscribe to meet more great female authors!