Today I have the awesome Colleen Clayton! Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Colleen and I wrote a book! It's called WHAT HAPPENS NEXT and it's available on October 9th! :) Leona was my 100th Twitter follower so I sent her an ARC the moment they came in. She was the very first person, outside of my family, agent, and editor to read the ARC version. She liked it so well that she asked to interview me for her blog! So, here I am! (And can I just add that my main character, Cassidy Murphy, as well as myself are American-Irish so I was beyond thrilled to send the first ARC over the ocean to Ireland...)
What made you want to write a book that dealt with the issues raised in What Happens Next?
I wanted to write about drug-induced sexual assault because it happens. It was happening when I was a high school and college student and it still happens today. I wanted to write about a girl who is naturally outgoing and headstrong, who has very normal insecurities about her body but still, overall, is a very vivacious, outspoken, and sharply witty girl. But a girl who, despite being all these things, still falls victim to a predator and whose post-traumatic stress surfaces in not-so-textbook ways.
Most people who are assaulted do not tell anyone or report their assault. Are they all shy and introverted? No. All types of people experience assault and don't tell. Also, I wanted to write about eating disorders that develop as a result of sexual assault. Lastly, I wanted to write about a girl who rediscovers her sexuality and sense of desire, post-assault, and does so in a healthy way. I wanted to write a story that is hopeful.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
I read a lot of articles that link sexual assault with eating disorders. Also, I visited my setting a lot. Lakewood, Ohio is a real city, most of the places mentioned in the book are real.
Ha! Not til my mid-thirties. I come from a very working class background and was the first person to attend college in my entire extended family on both sides. Most of my family are factory workers, coal miners, waitresses, etc. Paying for college seemed like such a luxury and I've felt the need to have "A Real Job" my entire life in order to give my parents and myself a return on our investment. "Being a writer" never even occurred to me until my mid-thirties. Pursuing writing (or the arts in general) just seemed like something mysterious, sove this. I want to work with you. I secured an agent, we worked on the manuscript for about
If you could have written a book that isn't yours what would it be and why?
In YA, I'd say "Stolen" by Lucy Christopher. Oh, that book kept me up at night! What a voice. Chilling but profoundly moving. In adult: "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. His main character Ignatius C. Reilly is the funniest literary figure of all time, hands down. And then anything by Jean Shepherd. I enjoy humor immensely (subtle, dark, tragic, satire, low-brow, standup, slapstick, whatever...) It's so tremendously hard to write humor and I respect the hell out of anyone who can do it well.
How did you go about getting your book published?
Querying the heck out of it! Being rejected over and over and over, until FINALLY someone said: I love this. I want to work with you. I secured an agent, we worked on the manuscript for about six months, then she sent it out on submission to about ten major publishing houses. I had an offer within a few weeks from Poppy/Little, Brown.
What book are you looking forward to most in 2012?
"My Life Next Door" by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I read an ARC of it a few months back and it was so, so good. Just lovely. I can't wait for it to come out this summer.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on another YA novel set in Ohio. Not really a companion or sequel, but it is set in the same area: Lakewood High/Cleveland, Ohio and features a 16 year old girl named Julianne. Then, because it is set in summer, the setting moves to Middle Bass Island off Lake Erie and then Sandusky, Ohio at our world-famous roller coaster park, Cedar Point. I love writing about Ohio.