Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interview with Heather Duffy-Stone

Last week I read This is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy-Stone. I loved the dual point of view, the "right on" teen feelings. It was a well-paced, read-to-the-end book that had so many "Oh, yes" moments that I would recommend it for an older reader as well as a younger one. Go back to those moments when love first happened--the wrong kind, but love that turned you upside-down before you had your own compass.

Here's how the story begins: The stories people tell are always about the things we left behind, and about the things we wish we could do again. The real story isn't about what you know; it's about what you wish you knew then. When my brother and my best friend fell in love—that was the end of everything I knew.

Fraternal twins Nadio and Noelle share a close connection—and as Noelle's best friend since they were five, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But everything changes after Keeley spends the summer before junior year at Oxford. When Keeley returns, Nadio falls in love with her. Noelle, ripped apart by resentment, sees her as an ungrateful rich girl. But Keeley has a painful story that she can't tell yet. As Nadio and Keeley hide their romance, Noelle dives into something of her own—a destructive affair with an older boy.

Heather Duffy-Stone writes stories and essays that are mostly inspired by high school—either her own or someone else’s. This Is What I Want to Tell You is her first novel. She has lived in Vermont, England, Los Angeles, rural New York and Rome, Italy. For now she cooks, sleeps, explores, writes and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

Well, Heather, obviously I enjoyed your book. I've already blog about it and GoodReads has my review. Now it's a pleasure to get to know more about you as a person in this interview.

Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?

Oh wow. I wish I could be inside Cormac McCarthy’s head (or. Maybe not). He is just, to me, absolutely genius. His landscapes, both emotional and physical, and the minds of his characters—I just think there are no books quite like his.

Who we admire (even fictional characters) often reveal a lot about who we are. So . . .what fictional character do you wish you could be?

I have always really loved Becky Sharp. Not that I would, by any means, want to be in her situation ever, but she is truly industrious. She’s sort of sneaky and funny and smart and looks around her and thinks, ok, this is what I need to do for the life I want. These are my options and this is what I can do—that strength and perseverance I absolutely love (and the costumes…)

Yes. Those costumes! I'd be forced to choose a character from the fin de si├Ęcle if costumes were part of the criteria. But now here's a truly revealing question, Heather. After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

Lately it’s been late night Thai food to fuel the writing sessions. Especially sweet mango sticky rice. SO good…

I'm with you on the mango sticky rice, Heather. It is fabulous. So let's talk a bit more about you and that great book of yours. When you started your book, did you already know you'd be using two points of view?

At the very early stages of this book, there were three narrators. Keeley, who is a very significant character, was a third narrator. I was very certain her voice needed to be in the story. But a writing group talked me out of this in the first draft and I am glad they did. There is still one scene that is in her voice though. It had to remain in her voice.

What was the hardest scene or chapter or whatever you had to write? The easiest?

There is a scene, I don’t want to give too much away, but where one of my narrators is just completely broken. She’s just out of her head and broken—and yet she is telling the story. So I needed her to have some clarity for the reader and at the same time show how absolutely just gone she was. It was really hard, and certainly draining, but also incredibly rewarding… the easiest was the last scene. It was the first I wrote and it just flowed. I knew exactly where my characters were going to end up. I just didn’t quite know how they’d get there.

You did a great job with that difficult scene. I was really with Noelle and scared for her and hoping she'd find a way out.

Do you have another project? Can you give us little glimpse of it or maybe an idea you're kicking around?

Yes, it’s about a graffiti artitst, the flawed immigration laws in this country, browing up, and getting to know a parent who is a virtual stranger… I’m really into it!

Let me know when it's on the way to the shelves. You've already captured my interest. Great talking to you.

Thank you so much!!!!

This is What I Want to Tell You is available at Amazon and bookstores. Buy it. Really. You'll have a wonderful reading experience.


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