“Just Say No to Candy Crush,” Says YA Author Susane Colasanti
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Recently, I attended a wonderful event to celebrate the launch of David Levithan’s book, Another Day, at New York City’s noted and adorable bookstore, Books of Wonder. After Levithan’s terrific presentation and signing, I was formally introduced to author Susane Colasanti.
We first met, albeit briefly, last spring at Book Expo America where she graciously signed a copy of City of Love (see below) for me. But this time, we had more time to chat and instantly connected about a lot of things including the fact that we both graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University (though I’m older by about four years).
Having had amazing success as a YA author, Colasanti couldn’t have been more approachable and down to earth. She’s also quite witty and I love her sense of humor! I’ve since read and enjoyed City of Love, a story of three girls with different backgrounds and personalities who live together in NYC the summer before starting college. I look forward to continuing on their journeys this spring when the second book of the trilogy, Lost in Love, comes out (see the just released photo of the gorgeous cover below).
When I asked to interview Colasanti, she graciously accepted my offer. We met in person to chat before another amazing Books of Wonder event with YA authors including Jennifer E. Smith (Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between), Carolyn Mackler (Infinite in Between), Maggie Lehrman (The Cost of All Things) and Amanda Maciel (Tease). Below you’ll find highlights from our conversation (and our selfie, taken on the street).
EZ: When did you know you wanted to become a writer and why were you so drawn to making writing your career?
SC: You know from our street corner conversation that I knew at age twelve that my purpose in life—as a grown up—was going to be to reach out to teens to help them feel less alone in whatever way I could. A12-years-old I already knew that my teen years were going to be the hardest of my life—and I was right about that which is cool in a way because now I can say that no matter what happens to me, I’ve already been through the worst part so it’s kind of relief to know that.
EZ: Before you started writing, you were a science teacher—something you really enjoyed. How does that compare to being a full time writer for teens?
SC: I loved teaching and I loved being around kids all day—teens are my people—but as a writer I can reach thousands of teens; as a teacher, I could only reach about 150 kids a year. It’s still a different relationship when you’re right in front of these kids on a daily basis, but I feel like as an author I’m in kids’ rooms, at their schools, in their libraries…and my readers are awesome at communicating with me via social media and in person. They tell me how much my books have helped them through hard times, how they’ve read them over and over. To them, the books are comforting, and that’s something I love—that my books provide comfort to them. I know that when I was a teen, some of my best friends were books!
EZ: What were some of your favorite books/authors growing up?
SC: In seventh grade, I was obsessed with The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I even slept with it underneath my pillow, wishing for some magical form of osmosis to seep through the pillow into my brain so I could write something even remotely as brilliant as that—and that would help people as much as it helped me because I felt like an outsider. Of course I also loved Judy Blume and Sandra Scoppettone (she writes mystery as well as young adult books). And even though one of my high school English teachers asked me why I read Stephen King, calling it trash, I love the way King crafts a novel and uses the written word in such a powerful way that resonates with so many people.
EZ: What is the best part of being an author?
SC: I love connecting with fans through social media, but going to events and meeting readers face to face reading and feeling their energy is the best. Some of them have been especially generous—in fact, one fan I met in Chicago made me an entire gift basket filled with things to help me scrapbook because she knew I love to do that!
EZ: What’s the most challenging part of writing/being an author?
SC: The most challenging part for me as an author is to write the first draft. I’m dealing with that now, writing the third book of the City Love trilogy. Even though I’m an outliner, the novel changes and evolves as I write. But even with an outline, that first draft is hard for me. But when I get to page 100 on my sexy iMac, I feel a little better.
EZ: Where/how do you write?
SC: I write in my home office in NYC. (See awesome selfie below.) Before I had this office, I lived in the West Village for nine years with no views. My desk was in a corner up against a wall. I’m lucky because now, I finally have what I always wanted—a tranquil, zen writing oasis…an airy, sun-filled, beautiful spot to put my grown up desk with southern exposure…big windows and big sky views so I could just sit there and write like a New York City writer. I love working in my home office and being inspired by NYC. The energy here makes me feel so alive…it’s the drug I love on. And even though I used to write while listening to music until I was about 36 or 37, now I need quiet.
EZ: How do you like to #moveitorloseit ?
SC: I’ve been working out for 25 years. I started when I was 16 in a leotard and leg warmers in front of the TV watching Charlene Prickett on PBS. Now I’ve evolved to wearing Victoria’s Secret Sport line fitted camis and workout tights. I have an amazing instructor to do Zumba with. I also do Les Mills Body Pump and core work. I’ve also done yoga, kickboxing and boot camp-type workouts over the years.
EZ: Any final advice for aspiring writers?
SC: Aspiring writers should read as much as possible AND read whatever you feel passionate or excited about. Take a book with you wherever you go so you can read on the bus, or when waiting in line somewhere…if you look around, you’ll notice people around you playing candy crush on their phones. My advice is DON’T PLAY CANDY CRUSH. Instead, take out the book and do something productive—and that you love. You can’t be a writer if you don’t love to read. I’ve learned so much about writing by reading. The more you read, the better a writer you’ll become.
About Susane Colasanti: She’s the bestselling author of realistic, contemporary teen novels including City Love, All I Need, Keep Holding On, So Much Closer, Something Like Fate, Waiting for You, Take Me There, and When It Happens. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007, Colasanti was a high school science teacher for ten years. She lives in New York City. You can read more about Colasanti, City Love and her other books on her website.
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