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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview: Marisa Calin

I'm very excited and honored to have Marisa Calin on the blog today for an interview! Marisa is the author of the fabby fab YA novel Between You & Me 

WS: What three words best describe BETWEEN YOU & ME?
MC- Real, heartfelt, intimate

WS: In one sentence tell readers why they should read your book.
MC-Some books help you escape from your life into another world, but mine will help change the way you feel about your own life, so when you put the book down, (and we always put the book down), you can face it with compassion, faith in finding commonality and with less self-judgement.

WS: Why did you decide to use the screenplay format for this novel? Was this always the original plan or did you start out writing in regular prose? Did you find the screenplay format harder or easier to use to tell your story?
MC- This hybrid style was always my intention for the format. I felt that it effectively represented Phyre my main character and how she sees her life. I was also able to tell the story as visually and immediately as I could. I loved the idea of the scenes being as present as possible for the reader, as if they were really watching it unfold. I could simplify my style to describe just what you can see, hear and feel in that very moment. So for this story, I found that the style made it easier for me to paint the picture I wanted to paint. It made it tricky in some ways because there was never really the chance to provide details about the past, but I had to trust the reader to fill in the pieces they weren't told, and relate to the characters in the present. In some ways it was more like writing a play and it was so much fun.

WS: I love that Phyre's BFF is only referred to as YOU! While writing, was YOU always a specific gender in your own mind? Was it hard to write YOU in such a way that their gender could go either way?
Yes, I always felt that I knew YOU's gender. I just realized early on that I didn't want to write about gender and risk people being able to instinctively put Phyre in a box in their mind as either in the midst of "coming out" or overcoming a crush to embrace normality.
Surprisingly, it wasn't that hard to write without giving it away. I had a strong sense of YOU's character and it was actually really exciting and refreshing not to need to include the element of gender at all. It's an excellent reminder of how much of a role it plays in how we relate to each other. And I'm excited that the choice has provoked people to think about their own preconceptions and stereotypes.

WS: What can readers expect from you in the future? Any plans to revisit Phyre and YOU?
MC- Oo, no plans to revisit Phyre and You, but I definitely hope to write more that will challenge the way people relate to the real world. I think that'll be a common theme in my work, focusing not on the escapism of fantasy that is so prolific on book shelves, but rather letting people recognize pieces of themselves. Next, I'm planning to put the kind of kick-ass heroine that people love into situations that we all might find ourselves in, bringing our aspirations to be like the characters we read about into the realm of possible.

WS: What song has been on constant repeat on your iPod/stereo?
MC- Regina Spektor's The Call, especially while I was revising Between You & Me. There was something thoughtful about it that really spoke to me at the time. It's a song that always makes me reflective.

WS: If you could switch places with any literary character for one day, who would you switch with? What would you do as them?
MC- Great question! It sounds crazy but a tiny part of me wouldn't mind seeing how long I could last in the arena as Ms. Katniss Everdeen. I have a really competitive streak and I think my self-preservation skills would be up to the task. Maybe that could account for ten minutes of my day. I'd like to spend a few hours at Hogwarts as Fleur Delacour, long enough to dwell on how pretty I am, participate in the Triwizard Tournament, (yikes, I'm not that competitive, I promise!), and go to the ball with floating candles and looking stunning in a beautiful dress. And then I'll finish the day as Mrs. (Marisa) Coulter from His Dark Materials not just because we share a name and not just because I'd love to have the company of my external soul manifesting as a silky golden money (who wouldn't) but rather in time to make the greatest sacrifice and die to save my daughter even though everyone thinks I'm evil. I have a real soft spot in literature for formerly evil people doing great and wondrous things to redeem themselves. It makes me want to cry on principle.

WS: Fill in the blanks:

1. I'm really awesome at ___________ 
talking to people! A skill that is easy to underestimate I think. I try to make people feel comfortable and it doesn't hurt that I think there's something interesting about everyone so there's nearly always something I'd like to ask them about.

2. My first celebrity crush was ___________
Hmm. Interestingly, I really can't remember my first real celebrity crush! I'm really inspired by talent so my affinities have always been ever changing - not fickle, exactly, but if I read, see or hear something exceptional I will be swept up in admiration for a time. My most bizarre crush might have to be Alan Rickman as Snape. He's so still and powerful, I just want to stare at him. (There's another seemingly-evil-turned-good character!) My first and only letter to a celebrity was when I saw the movie Fried Green Tomatoes for the first time in my early teens. I felt so sorry for Kathy Bates when she dropped her shopping that I wrote to tell her so. She never wrote back which I found shocking. I was sure she would think it was the most heartfelt letter she had ever received and we would be pen pals.

3. I'm embarrassed to admit that _________

I thought Kathy Bates might want to be my pen pal. I've always had a slightly unreasonable tendency to aim high and think that I can achieve anything I set out to do. Which I'm only partly sorry for because it motivates me and gives me drive. Without that small but wonderful percentage of delusion, I'd never have been brave enough to be an actress or write a novel in my early twenties and ask someone to publish it. The only reason to excuse me is that i know how much luck is involved in achieving dreams and I'm so so grateful for everything good that happens. It's just pure optimism. Maybe my letter from Kathy is still in transit.

WS: What is your comfort book, the one book you read when you need to relax or cheer yourself up?
MC- I read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters because I am filled with gleeful amazement at her achievement in that book. There's a great twist at the end and I love rereading earlier points in the book to delight in awe at the subtleties. It's beautifully written.

WS: If you were to create and bake a BETWEEN YOU & ME cupcake, what would it look/taste like and what would you call it?
MC- That's easy. White chocolate cake with raspberry ganache filling, white chocolate frosting and metallic silver sprinkles with a silver bauble on top.
White chocolate is the least appreciated member of the chocolate family made with a different part of the pod; the odd one out in the chocolate shop.
Raspberry filling because its sweet but tart - we all have a zingy edge.
Silver metallic star-shaped sprinkles because like people, they only catch the light and sparkle at some angles. And you need crunch in your exterior coating to compliment the soft center. The bauble because when I was little, I loved eating things that didn't look edible - the irresistible element of surprise and of challenging your expectations. (I'm still excited to eat cake flowers and rice paper.)
And it is definitely not to be over-frosted. Too much frosting obscures our real flavor.
Finally, it would be called Cupcake. Sometimes you don't need to fancy something up when, at its simplest and purest, it's perfect. It is what it is, regardless of what you call it.

Clearly I have missed my vocation. There will be no more novels. I am now a cake designer. Visit me via my website to place your orders. I do weddings.

Thank you SO much Marisa for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us all a chance to get to know you and your book better!

Connect with Marisa: Site / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Marisa Calin is an actress and novelist. She grew up in Bath, England and moved to New York City to train at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She tried her hand at plays and screenplays before her love of a good book inspired her to take charge of every facet of the creative picture and tackle a novel. The only thing better than being absorbed in the world of a film for two hours is being absorbed in the lives of characters for the duration of a book. She lives in Greenwich Village and writes from what she knows--memories of her not so distant teenhood.

Between You & Me
Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she’s ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre’s best friend—addressed throughout the story in the second person, as "you"—stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn’t understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can’t fathom the depth of her best friend’s feelings . . . until it’s almost too late for a happy ending. Characters come to life through the innovative screenplay format of this dazzling debut, and unanswered questions—is "you" male or female?—will have readers talking.
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository

Between You & Me book trailer

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