About the book:
Thirteen-year-old Celeste Harris is no string bean, but comfy sweatpants and a daily chocolate cookie suit her just fine. Her under-the-radar lifestyle could have continued too, if her aunt hadn’t entered her in the HuskyPeach Modeling Challenge. To get out of it, she’s forced to launch Operation Skinny Celeste—because, after all, a thin girl can’t be a fat model! What Celeste never imagined was that losing weight would help her gain a backbone . . . or that all she needed to shine was a spotlight.
An Interview with Erin Dionne:
Me: What were your favorite books (or types of books) as a teen, and what was it about them that appealed to you? What, on the other hand, would make you put a book down?
Erin: As a teen, I read a lot of adult stuff and some YA. My favorite writer then--and now--was Stephen King. For YA writers, I read Robert Cormier, Jerry Spinelli, and Paul Zindel.
I looked for books that told a good story, had rich characters, and pulled me in. Then, as now, if I couldn't get in to the world, or if the writing was too obvious, I'd put the book down.
Me: Have your reading tastes stayed the same, or have you discovered new loves and peeves (and if so, what are they)?
Erin: In addition to what I listed above, I've discovered a love of nonfiction (DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, DEATH IN BELMONT, and OUTLIERS come to mind), essays (anything by David Sedaris), and literary fiction (love Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, etc). As for peeves, now I'm more in tune to how the story goes together, so I notice short cuts and lazy writing more.
Me: What was your favorite part of writing MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES, and what was the hardest?
Erin: I enjoyed writing the whole thing--it was a very fun book to create, and most of the draft just poured out. I think the hardest part was getting Celeste's voice consistent throughout, but my excellent writer's group was a huge help with that. I couldn't do this without them.
Me: Did you draw on any people/places/experiences from your life while writing?
Erin: So much of the book has elements of truth to it... I threw up on my gym teacher's shoes in junior high, was in my cousin's wedding, and actually wore a Peach Monstrosity bridesmaid dress! But other elements of the story are distinctly Celeste, distinctly fiction.
Me: What was the most exciting moment during the publishing process? The scariest?
Erin: Every stage of the process has been exciting for different reasons--meeting my editor, working with her, getting notes, seeing my cover--all of it has been cause for celebration. But that initial phone call, when I found out that my agent had sold MODELS, was probably the most exciting event in my career. I lost my mind!
The scariest has been seeing the book go out into the world, getting feedback from readers and reviewers, and knowing that Celeste is about to take on a life of her own in readers' minds.
Me: What are you working on now?
Erin: I'm in the middle of revisions with my editor on my second MG novel, THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET. It involves Renaissance Fairs, Shakespeare, a genius, and lots of cuts of meat.
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Erin! More interviews to come next week. :)