Author interview: Selene Castrovilla

Selene Castrovilla is on the blog today! Selene is the author of The Girl Next Door, which has just come out in paperback, as well as a few other YA books. You can find a full listing here. Selene lives on Long Island with her two sons, who sometimes think it's cool to have a mom who writes at home. You can find Selene on her blog, on twitter, and on facebook. I'm really glad to have and I hope you enjoy this interview about writing and randomness!! 

If you could be any item on a Mexican restaurant menu, what would you be and why? 

Hmmm...I really would prefer not to be eaten, lol. But I would be flan – I love it so. It is custardy and creamy and makes me happy. I don’t think you can be sad while eating flan. Plus, it’s a fun word to say: “Flan.” If you are what you eat, than I am flan.

What do you do in your spare time?

What is spare time, lol? I do as much as I can with my kids, who are 12 & 17. We try and do that family dinner thing, as seen on TV (LOL.) Seriously, we have a lot of fun together. I’m very fortunate. I don’t watch much TV, but when I want to relax I sink into "In Plain Sight" and "Burn Notice". I watch the old series "The Practice" with my older son, who is going to be a lawyer. I devote as much time as possible to the writing process, or marketing. Now I write a blog on Blogspot. It’s called Selene Castrovilla’s Blog. Catchy, I know.

Have you read any good books lately?

Well, I re-read more than I read new books. I don’t know why. The Catcher in the Rye, for example. Love it. My friend Karen Dellecava just published her first YA novel – A Closer Look. I read that, and I recommend it! Do you have any pets? I know this makes me sound nuts, but I have seven cats. There are extenuating circumstances (they are ‘rescued’ in one way or another), and most of them live outside. I have one fatty named Jesse who is the size of a raccoon and has one eye. He is particularly loving, and lives in my younger son’s room.

What is the best advice you've been given as a writer? The worst?

Best: I was at a writing conference manuscript critique session, panicking over the sea of red comments the reader - an editor – had penned. Head in my hands I moaned, “I can’t do this!” She asked, “Why not?” Why not, indeed. To put it another way, Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This reader went on to become my editor at Calkins Creek Books/Boyds Mills Press. Our third book together is in production.

Worst: Someone reading the manuscript which became my first novel – Saved by the Music – insisted that I eliminate one of my main characters: Axel. She thought he interfered with the relationship between the other character – Willow- and her aunt. But I knew Axel was just as important to the story as Willow. Readers have concurred – they adore Axel. The moral of this story is: “To thine own story be true.”

Who is your favorite character from one of your books--and why?  

I think my favorite character is from a book not yet published. His name is Darwin, and he’s in my novel Evolution. You can read an excerpt here. He’s had such a hard life and reacted in a very violent way - and he’s never known love. I could cry for him (and I have.) In my published books, I’d say it’s Axel in Saved by the Music. He also had a terrible childhood, and reacted by retreating into the solitude of a sailboat. He is very good-looking (LOL.)

What's your writing process like?

Yeesh. Depends where I am on a manuscript. Day by day I make sure I write first thing – have to start the day right. I don’t do “drafts” like some people. That’s to say, I don’t write through the whole thing and then go back and revise. That would drive me mad!!! Instead, I write a scene and then go over it again and again until in shines (maybe a week.) As for an overview of the process, I always know the end. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get there? I need a tight beginning and a clear end. Then I fill in the middle. That’s the journey. Is it hard? Yes! Is it scary? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes, yes, yes!!! It’s the thrill of the chase. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I couldn’t write. I encourage emerging writers to e-mail me with specific questions. You can reach me through my website, or my blog. There’s also writing tips every Monday on my blog. I call it “Method to my Madness Monday.”

Thanks so much Selene for stopping by!!!

About the book: 

In THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, two teens are forced to make some very grown-up decisions when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Sixteen year old Samantha has been best friends with seventeen year old Jesse since she moved into the New York high-rise apartment next door to his thirteen years ago. Jesse is their school's poster child for popularity: good-looking, a star athlete, even Romeo in the school play. On opening night he collapses on stage. That's when doctors discover the unthinkable: a tumor on his spine. His type of cancer is virtually incurable – 97% of those diagnosed die within ten months.

Jesse shuts down, refusing to see most of his friends. He submits to treatments of chemo and radiation, but he doesn't possess hope. Sam is the one person he’ll talk to. He convinces his mom to let her sleep in another bed in his room, saying he's afraid to die alone. That’s when Jess and Sam make a startling, bittersweet discovery: they’ve been in love all along.

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR addresses the universal question: In an unpredictable world, how can we possibly feel safe?

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