Sage: It is a pleasure to interview Stephanie Faris in my blog today. Currently, she is on a promotion tour for her new book, 25 Roses. Stephanie, many of my readers may not have had a chance to meet you. Can you give us a brief introduction to yourself?
Stephanie: Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog today. I’ve been writing since the 90s, which makes me really old! I finally landed an agent in 2009 and sold my first book to Simon and Schuster in 2012. That book, 30 Days of No Gossip, came out last year and 25 Roses is my second book for Simon and Schuster.
Sage: Congratulations on your new book. Without spoiling the story for potential readers, could you provide basic summary and tell us what you would like your readers to take from your story?
Stephanie: When I was in high school, we had a carnation sale for Valentine’s Day. People bought carnations for their friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. You could send them anonymously or with your name on it. I started thinking about what would happen if the girl in charge of that sale decided to give flowers to the people who didn’t normally receive them—the unpopular girls and boys, mostly. While my main character, Mia, has the best intentions, we all know “no good deed goes unpunished.” Mia soon finds herself in the middle of a big mess that she created by having such a big heart.
Stephanie: It’s interesting—for younger books, boys and girls will both read books with female and male main characters. Around eight or nine, they seem to split. Girls love books with male main characters (the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, for instance) but boys seem to stay away from books starring females. 25 Roses has a universal message that I think would appeal to boys and girls if the girly cover doesn’t scare them off.
Sage: I know for boys (or at least for me), the middle school years (they called it Junior High back in my days) were some of the most difficult years of my life. What was your life like in those grades?
Stephanie: It was junior high for me, too. I was just thinking about it the other day. I think your junior high/middle school years are tough in part because school is everything. Once you reach high school, you get a job and start driving and you can distance yourself somewhat. In middle school, you’re stuck dealing with these people. I was not popular at all and I always felt like I wasn’t quite good enough. I’d say to my middle school/high school classmates I was mostly invisible except for my small group of friends. Maybe we all feel that way, though.
Sage: Do you have young adults read your work while it is in progress in order to see how they are relating to the story?
Stephanie: I don’t…but I would love to put together a group of young beta readers! My stepdaughter did read the first chapter of one of my middle grade books once and she pointed out things kids would never say or do. That was very helpful, but I couldn’t get her to sit still long enough to read more.
Sage: From what I have come to know about you, you have published in two distinct genres—Young Adult Books for middle school girls and articles and blogs on technology. What is it about each genre that you enjoy exploring and writing?
Stephanie: It is quite different! Freelance writing is my day job and I’ve always said I hope someday to be able to write fiction full time. However, I do love writing on certain topics, like technology and fashion. I have a feeling I’ll probably always do that part of it. I’ve also been very fortunate to write for several very talented marketing experts and that work has led me to learn more about how to market my books online. You can’t buy that sort of experience.
Sage: You are published by a big-named company and represented by an agent. With all the changes in the publishing world (self-publishing, need for a media platform, fewer editors, etc) you seem to use a more traditional publishing approach? What are your thoughts on the changes in the publishing world and can you tell us how you broke into the young adult market?
Stephanie: I landed my agent with a middle grade series I’d written called “Ghost Patrol.” That series never sold, but I found that the tween audience was the best area for my voice. I think the big publishers will always be there. But I also think (as I always have) that e-books will become more dominant as traditional bookstores dwindle. It also seems independent bookstores are thriving right now because customers get an experience there that they can’t get at a chain store or online.
Sage: What advice do you have for someone who is considering writing a young adult novel?
Stephanie: I think with any books for young readers, it’s important for a writer to figure out where his or her voice fits. Young adult books tend to be a little darker, while middle grade novels are generally much more lighthearted and fun. Chapter books are an even younger version of that. Reading as many children’s books as possible can help them find where they fit.
Sage: In closing, can you let my readers know where they can purchase your books?
Stephanie: If you want an autographed copy of 25 Roses, you can buy it through Parnassus Books. Just put in the Notes of your order what you want me to sign. They’ll have me come by and sign it and ship it right to your door. You can buy it in paperback and e-book just about everywhere you buy books—Barnes and Noble, Amazon, BooksaMillion, etc. I do recommend buying indie if you can, although I know people love their Kindles!
Sage: Thank you for your time, Stephanie. May your new book not only be successful, but be an encouragement to young adult readers.
Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me!
ENTER TO WIN: Stephanie is giving away an autographed copy of her book, a $25 gift certificate and a chocolate long stem rose. Click here to enter the drawing...