Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Author Interview: Cara Lynn Shultz

We are thrilled to be able to bring you an interview with Cara Lynn Shultz, author of Spellbound.  I read Spellbound last month and adored it (my review) and was ecstatic when Ms. Shultz agreed to do an interview with us.  So with out further ado:

Girls Just Reading:  I found your debut novel, Spellbound to be enchanting.  I love the refreshing take on star crossed loves.  What inspired Emma and Brendan’s story?

Cara Lynn Shultz (CLS):  Thank you so much! I actually had the characters for quite some time. Originally, Emma and Brendan were named Claire and Alex, and they were seniors in college. What happened was, when I was fresh out of college and had just started working in the magazine industry, I would email my friend Vanessa little stories to read on the train ride home. (She had a long commute to the Bronx from Manhattan.) Then, years later, she’s moving and finds the printouts of the stories in an old purse.  She gave them to me, and I was reminded of these characters and how much fun I had writing them.  So a little seed of an idea began to take hold in my mind: “Cara, you’ve always wanted to write a book. Your characters just found you again. Get off your butt and do it.” So, after I got married at the end of 2008, I took the characters out and started playing with them. That’s probably why it’s a little heavy on the romance element, to be honest—I was a newlywed when I wrote it.

GJR:  I love that Emma is a strong heroine.  With all the things that have happened in her life, her resilience is admirable.  Was her character as effortless to write as it is to read?

CLS:  Thank you! It was important to me that Emma have have spirit and strength of character.  She will wallow, albeit briefly, in her sad moments of course, but I wanted her to be a survivor. But she had to have a rough life, I felt, to make it believable that she would risk everything for true love. She had to have nothing to lose, because Emma’s too smart to just throw everything out the window for a guy.

 There were times that she was tough to write, to be honest—any scenes having to do with loss. I’m extremely close to my family—so it was hard, personally, to put myself in that spot and think about losing them. Emma’s humor and goofiness, though, that was pretty easy. A little too easy, to be honest, and I wrote way too much. I had a lot more fluff and banter that I had to cut down because, although it was a lot of fun to write, it started making the book drag. I sometimes think I should have cut the dressing room scene with the family, but I left it in because I wanted to show her being comfortable in a family environment, and kind of echo the whole “Cinderella going to the ball” thing.

GJR:  I like that scene.  I'm glad you kept it.  Things were left open enough for there to be a sequel to Spellbound.  Is there more to Brendan and Emma’s story?  Or does Angelique’s story come next?

CLS:  Yes, there is going to be a sequel—I’m writing it now. There is definitely more to their story. I hint a little at what it can be in the first book and it’s still going to be a continuation of Brendan and Emma’s story. Angelique and the rest of the characters are going to be in it, and I’m introducing a few new cast members, so to speak. I’m playing with POVs…mostly Emma’s, but I think some of the other characters’ POVs might pop in as well.

GJR:  What draws you to write YA fiction?  Is this a genre you plan to stay with?

CLS:  Originally, Emma and Brendan were 21, 22. But when I realized that I was writing a soul mate/true love story, I knew I had to make them young, when that first rush of love is so thrilling and unknown and knocks you down. When you’re older, you start to get jaded, and for this story to work, there had to be some innocence there. What adult hasn’t had a friend who dumped someone/was dumped over the most trivial reason? . Can you imagine telling a twenty-something, “Hey, this guy is great and awesome and your soul mate, but it could kill you to be with him?” She’d peace out and hit the bar in her finest eff-that-guy outfit! I am writing the sequel, so I will be in YA for at least one more book. But maybe longer—it’s been really fun, so far. And everyone is awesome—from bloggers to writers to editors—and has been so welcoming to a newbie author. It’s an incredibly supportive community. I would like to write an adult novel at some point, just because I’d love to cut loose with the more devious side of my humor. Maybe someday. It would still probably still be paranormal in nature, though, just because that genre is a blasty blast to write, and I personally enjoy fantasy/supernatural entertainment.

GJR:  You’ve written for many media outlets from InStyle and Teen People to US Weekly and  How does writing a novel compare?   

CLS:  It’s completely different. When you’re an entertainment editor in the way that I was, you’re taking someone else’s tale and processing it to be consumed by readers. I would interview, say, Green Day, and translate what they said into an article. You are always limited a bit by the quality of the interview (for the record, Green Day was one of my favorite interviews of all time. That was for Stuff.). The creativity came in talking to people, in drawing them out, then in presenting them in a way that was interesting yet genuine to the specific musician or celeb. You can’t really write about Britney Spears in the same way that you write about Sevendust. And also, you have a specific demographic that you’re catering to, so your writing has to be tempered for your audience. Novel writing, you’re limited only by yourself. It’s entirely your tale, and up to you how you want to present it.

GJR:  As a musician, I love the fact that you have a playlist for your story, and even descriptions of who is listening to what and when.  Did the playlist and the story develop together?

CLS:  Yes and no. I have a separate playlist of songs that I listen to when I write, a mix of songs that mattered to me when I was in high school and college (to get me back into that headspace of being young), and current stuff that I love. But when I wrote, Emma and Brendan were both always listening to music, both always had their headphones on, so when we were coming up with back-of-book material, a playlist of their songs just seemed natural, a way to give an added peek into their thoughts at the time.

GJR:  Who are your favorite authors to read?  Why? Are there any authors you would cite as an influence?

CLS:  It’s always changing. Obviously, there’s the all-star team: J.D. Salinger. Stephen King. Jane Austen. And then the contemporary players that pop into my starting lineup: Max Brooks. Charlaine Harris.  Seth Grahame-Smith. And I have to say, the HarlequinTeen authors are mind-bogglingly amazing. I haven’t read a single book that I was disappointed in. Kady Cross, Gena, Showalter, Rachel Vincent, Cayla Kluver, Julie Kagawa, etc.  All fantastic and should be read asap!

GJR:  What are you currently reading?

CLS:  I just finished If I Die from Rachel Vincent (in one sitting. I love that series and squealed when I got the ARC like a total fangirl) and next up is Got Junk?, which a friend of mine, Tom Acox, wrote about his stint hauling junk out of people’s homes. My husband read it already and said it’s a riot. My TBR pile is staring at me and mocking me, to be honest. I have SO much to read.

GJR:  I see from your Facebook page you’re a Buffy fan.  Any other TV obsessions you want to divulge?

CLS:  I. Love. Buffy. So. Much. “I kissed him, and I killed him” will never fail to make me cry my eyes out like someone just killed my puppy. And oh, there’s so many. How I Met Your Mother. (My husband and I joke that we’re Lily and Marshall, because she’s a short, mouthy New Yorker and he’s a tall Midwesterner who is obsessed with burgers. He even runs a popular burger blog, Burger Conquest). Fringe is just fantastic. Dexter. Big Bang Theory. Game of Thrones. Daily Show. Tosh.0. South Park. Family Guy. Bob’s Burgers. If it weren’t for DVR I’d be so screwed. And I am a little obsessed with this Travel Channel show called Ghost Adventures, where these guys stay overnight in a haunted house and film themselves ghost hunting. It’s fascinating and spooky and funny, because they call each other bro and dude a lot.  “Dude, did you hear that? I totally just heard footsteps.” And, of course, True Blood. I’m curious to see how this season unfolds because the fourth book is my absolute favorite. * high five to everyone who knows which scene I’m talking about *

GJR:  I miss Buffy.  If you weren’t a writer, what career would you choose?

CLS:  Hmm…this is a tough one. I always knew I wanted to be a writer in some capacity. If writing was completely off the table for me, I think it would have been fun to be a toy designer, like Tom Hanks ends up doing in Big.

GJR:  Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

CLS:  Thanks or having me!!

Spellbound hit the shelves yesterday, so run out and get a copy and tell your friends that Jenn at Girls Just Reading said they should run out and get a copy too!



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