YA Author Interview: Janet Gurtler

Posted October 27th, 2011 by in *Feature/Meme / 0 comments

OUAC Welcomes:
Janet Gurtler
I read Janet’s newest novel If I Tell earlier this month and really enjoyed it! You can read my review here. Janet is going to spend a little time at OUAC and answer a few questions for us. I hope you enjoy them!

OUAC: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

JG: I’m a mom. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Auntie. Writer. I eat too many sweets and too many protein bars.  I spend too much time in yoga pants and t-shirts and sometimes when I get caught up in writing I forget to brush my teeth. Gross, right?  I’m the type of person who breaks out into song for no reason and so are my husband and my son. It makes for a loud household sometimes. I am an introvert but I can also be very social able and friendly when out in public. But I’ll always need my alone time. I am quite happy to be by myself.

OUAC: Who are some of your favorite authors?

JG: A.S. King and Sara Zarr comes to mind immediately. And there are so many others I love.

OUAC: Do you have any books sitting in Mt. Read Me?

JG: I have a HUGE stack of books. I was lucky enough to go to BEA this year and came home with so many books. Right now I’m in the middle of a writing groove, so I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. I’m a total reading binger.

OUAC: Do you have any books on your keeper shelf?

JG: Of course I do! A lot of them! I have books from my fave group of authors, the 2009 DEBS. (We have an anthology coming out soon called The First Time,Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson,Unwind by Neil Shusherman. Many, many others. I have a lot of books!

OUAC: What are some of your favorite pastimes?

JG: I like to listen to loud music. Usually on my iPod when I’m walking. Or running which I am trying to get back into now. I spend a lot of time at the pool with my son and at swim meets on the weekend. Usually I’m timing swimmers. I LOVE going to movies and reading is at the top of my list as well. I also love to catch up with friends who I neglect when I’m busy writing.

OUAC: Do you have any guilty pleasures? (Chocolate, Reality TV, etc.)

JG: I have many guilty pleasures. I am a sweets person. Chocolate is a major weakness. And cake, or more accurately ICING. Also banana marshmallows have been making me forget any resolutions I have regarding diet and exercise lately. I love sweets.

Also I like Avril Lavigne music. That’s kind of a guilty pleasure. And right now my son and I are watching every single Stargate Episode on Netflix. Netflix is good for guilty TV pleasures.

OUAC: Can you walk us through a normal writing day for you?

JG: Well right now I’m working on a first draft so I’m pretty focused. I take my son to school and come home and get on my laptop. I spend some time on my fave social networking places. Twiter, Facebook etc. Then I’m off to work. I usually take lots of mini breaks while writing to check the internet for updates etc. I am easily distracted. Then it’s off to pick my son up from school, take him to the pool and either write at the pool or exercise, depending how I feel.

OUAC: What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

JG: Revise your work before you send it out.

OUAC: What advice would you give any aspiring writers reading this?

JG: Revise!!! First drafts are not finished products! And revising doesn’t just mean running spell check. Find some craft books ( I recommend Writing the Breakout Novel workbook by Donald Maass for help with revisions)

OUAC: What drew you to writing young adult fiction?

JG: Well, I started out in romance and then chick lit and then I had a character come to me. A teenage boy. I got so jazzed by this guy and wrote his story and once I started writing and reading Young Adult fiction, I’ve never wanted to read or write anything else. Love. It.

OUAC: What is your favorite part of your career?

JG: Well. I love the creative process, getting caught up in a story. I’m a rather analytical person so it’s very cathartic for me to write the kind of books I do (contemporary fiction) I like to try to figure my characters out, and show parts of them that people might normally not see if they were just meeting a person in real life. I also love it when readers write to me. It’s crazy to think that people are reading my work and sometimes loving it. I once saw a girl get excited when I posted something on a blog and I totally GOT that as a person who gets excited when I see authors I love posting things. But to me, I’m just well, me, so it’s supercool to think that other people see me as “an author.” Sometimes, okay, often, it feels surreal.

OUAC: What drew you to writing the tough stuff in young adult fiction?

JG: I kind of answered this above. I like to show people from the inside out. There’s always so much more to a person than what you see on the surface, and I like to explore the surprises that are under there.  I remember thinking other people were so much more secure than I was as a teen, and when I got older I realized pretty much everyone had inner struggles, no matter what they looked like or seemed to have. I hope that somewhere a teen might read something I wrote and it might make them see that their strangeness or awkwardness, whatever makes them feel kind of yucky sometimes, is a great part of who they are and is really okay.

OUAC: At the end of If I Tell you mention dealing with post-partum yourself. Do you draw inspiration from everyday life?

JG: Of course I do! I am a sponge. I think it’s a lot like actors who have to put themselves in other people skin, sometimes you do that by remembering real life feelings or imagining how you would feel if you were this kind of person and this happened to you.

It’s awful, but when I’m feeling super sad or super happy, I’ll sometimes call back that feeling later when I’m writing scenes. I do take things from real life but I fictionalize them.

OUAC: Do you have a favorite scene in If I Tell? (As few spoilers as possible)

JG: I think my fave scene in If I Tell is when Jaz is having dinner with her mom and Simon. It’s probably a scene lots of readers feel uncomfortable with. Jaz is feeling awful and is angry and she ends up saying something to her mom and doing things that are pretty horrifying. To me the secret that Jaz is keeping really pushes her and a lot of the anger and sadness she’s kept inside all her life is forced out because she just can’t handle keeping it in anymore. This was a tough scene because it shows Jaz warts and all. I love how she steps outside of herself and says things she later regrets, but it also comes back later and helps her to heal. In a funny way this scene is kind of the beginning of Jaz coming to terms with things.

OUAC: Are you working on anything now? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

JG: Yes! I have a third book coming out from Sourcebooks next year. I just heard it may be called Who I Kissed. It’s about a girl who kisses a boy and accidentally kills him because he is deathly allergic to peanuts and she just finished eating a peanut butter sandwich. I’m excited about it all coming together!

OUAC: Thanks for stopping by Janet!

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