Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interview: Alison Cherry

When we read Red by Alison Cherry we feel in love with it! The storyline was unique and it kept us hooked. We were very excited to get a chance to ask author Alison Cherry a few questions (we especially loved her inspiration for Red!) Here is what she had to say:

BTB: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

I've always loved to write, but I never considered writing a novel until 2007. My first roommate in New York worked at a literary agency, and when she started bringing YA books home from the office, I discovered that YA literature had undergone an incredible transformation since I was a teen. The contemporary YA voice really resonated with me, and it suddenly occurred to me that some of my own teenage experiences might make a great novel. (Spoiler alert: they actually didn't. But working on that first rambly, overwritten manuscript for three years taught me a lot about how not to write a book, and that's what made RED possible!) 

My college degree is in photography, so that's definitely what I'd be doing if I weren't writing. In fact, that's what I was doing until a couple years ago—my most recent day job was as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera's technical department. That involved photographing all the behind-the-scenes stuff—dress rehearsals, lighting cues, costumes, how set pieces went together, etc. It was a fascinating place to work, and I got to see a lot of incredibly weird stuff, all of which I plan to incorporate into books someday.

BTB: What inspired you to write Red?

The idea first came to me when I read an article about how redheads were likely to disappear in the next hundred years because our genes are so recessive. Fortunately, the article turned out to be a hoax perpetuated by a hair-dye company, but it got me thinking about what would happen if redheads really WERE an endangered species. Would people create redhead sanctuaries to try and save us the same way they try to save wolves and pandas? And what might one of those communities look like from the inside?

BTB:Which of the characters in Red do you identify with the most?

Despite my red hair, I'm probably the most like Jonathan, aside from his maleness, his painting talent, and his extreme hotness in a tuxedo! I was pretty quiet and focused on art in high school, and I did originally have plans to go to art school, though that's not what I ended up doing. Jonathan's the kind of person who hangs out on the sidelines, ready to be helpful if he's needed and quietly waiting for someone to notice him. He's pretty bad at being assertive, but if you stick around long enough for him to open up, he'll be super loyal to you. I think he might've gotten along well with teenage me. 

BTB: Were there specific songs or a playlist you listened to when writing Red?

I wish I were one of those people who has a playlist for every project, but the truth is that I don't listen to music while I write. Having other people's words in my head while I'm trying to form my own is extremely distracting!

BTB: What book (or books) can you read over and over again?

My go-to rereads are I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell, and the Harry Potter books, especially 3 and 6!

BTB: If you could become a character in any book, who would it be and why?

I'd choose to be the title character from GWINNA by Barbara Berger, which was my very favorite book as a kid. She can play the harp, talk to owls, and fly, and I'd get to keep my red hair.

BTB: What are you currently working on?

My next book, FOR REAL, comes out on December 9th! It's about a pair of sisters who go on an Amazing-Race-esque reality show to take revenge on a cheating ex-boyfriend. My work in progress is middle grade, but I can't say much about it except that it involves a group of really strange old ladies who are ridiculously fun to write!

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