I have had a chance to interview Carrie Jones, the author of Tips On Having A Gay (ex) Boyfriend.
Where did the idea of your book come from?
I’d heard about a girl who’d been harassed because her boyfriend broke up with her and simultaneously came out. That seemed so wrong to me that I wanted to figure out how something like that could happen. I mean, obviously it’s wrong to get harassed for being gay, or having seizures, or because of your race or gender. Still, getting harassed for someone else being gay? It made no sense. So I started writing.
Plus, um, well… Yeah, I’ve had a few gay exboyfriends.
What is a typical day in your shoes?
It begins with a cry of pain as the feet cram inside them.
“No,” they beg. “Please… Please… wear the running shoes today. How about the flip-flops? You haven’t worn the flip-flops for awhile.”
“Will you be quiet,” grumps back the little toe. “This is your destiny.”
“To be walked on? To contain a foot? Oh… No… It can’t be true. Why must I bear all the weight of Carrie Jones? Why could I not have been born a glove? Or a hat? Even, gasp, underwear would be better than this.”
“Will you shut up? She’s not even walking right now.”
The whining and bickering continues unabated until dinner time when the shoes are released from their tortuous existence.
What are your writing habits (daily goals… ect)?
I write every weekday. I write in the morning. I try to write at least 500 words on each project every day. That word count gets all messed up when I’m revising. And I make lists on the computer so I can feel like I’ve actually accomplished something and I check things off on them.
So, it’ll look like this:
Weird Book: 18 (4,062) 21 (4,718) 23 (5,156) 25 (5,564) 30 (6,576) 33 (7,127) 36 (7,915) 40 (8,709) 45 49 (10,551) 52 (11,254) 55 (11,829) 56 (12,153) 60 (13, 249) 66 (14,130) 70 (15,227) (Goal for week) (16,906) Goal:85 17,398 19,153 20,436
So every time I stop I put in the page I’ve stopped on and the word count. Then I bold the page number every Monday so I can have a week by week process. It seems weird, but if I don’t do it I feel like I’m getting nothing done. Yes, I do it for each thing I'm working on.
How long did it take from the start of the book and getting it published?
I wrote it in November, then I didn’t look at it. I submitted it in the winter some time. It was accepted off the slush pile, which was ultra-cool. It was on shelves the next year in May. So, it took about 18 months from the first word to the first bookstore appearance.
What was your favorite part & least favorite part?
I get really frightened about reviews and the fact that my dad thinks that the main character in the book is me and he keeps saying things like, “Carrie. I never realized you were so sexual.”
And I keep saying, “Dad. Dude, it’s not me.”
And he keeps saying, “Yep. Right. I didn’t know you had sex with Joe in high school.”
And I’m all, “Dad. It is FICTION! Fiction! And I’m so not telling you if I had sex in high school.”
That’s pretty bad.
My favorite part is when people write to my about the book. I got the BEST letter from this person who said she never reads past 50 pages in books but she read all of TIPS and she did it in two days. I pretty much jumped around the kitchen for two minutes when that happened.
Oh! And the other cool thing was when I went into Borders to see my book for the first time and there was a girl there and she ACTUALLY PICKED IT UP and then she bought it! I almost died. I leaped around the YA fantasy aisle silently screaming and pumping my first in the air. Security made me leave shortly afterwards.
Do you listen to music while you write?
I do an M.T. Anderson and listen before I write because I don’t want to think that all the emotion in the music is the emotion in the writing. I get confused that way. Plus, sometimes I start singing along.
Do you have any writing advice for aspiring writers?
The only way I’ve ever managed to get out the first drafts of things is by saying, “It’s okay to be mediocre.”
I think when we write that first draft we expect it to be perfect. We expect ourselves to be perfect and that’s a heck of a lot of pressure. Once you give yourself the ability to suck, to say it’s an experiment, life becomes a whole lot easier.
Revision is the time for perfectionism and pressure, not first drafts.
What is your next project and when will it be in our hands?
The next book is a nonfiction picture book about this major league baseball player who was also a spy in World War II. That’s coming out in January 2008. The next young adult novel is LOVE AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE, which is a sequel to TIPS. It comes out in March 2008. Another YA will come out in July 2008 and then… Who knows?
Thank you so much for interviewing me. It was really fun. Plus, Holly Black is amazing. So being interviewed by one of her big-time fans is super cool. I’m honored! Thanks.