Wednesday 20 October 2010

Quick Q&A: Sonya Sones

Sonya Sones kindly took the time to answer some of my questions....

What is it about writing in verse that you really enjoy?
Poetry is such a good way to get to the center and truth of things. It's the only way I can say what I really need to say. I love searching for the words, not just any words, but the exact right words, to describe a certain feeling or a moment in time. Besides, the idea of writing a novel in regular prose scares me! Maybe someday, though...

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?
The idea for Stop Pretending came while I was taking a poetry class, taught by Myra Cohn Livingston. I'd only been writing funny poems, but then one day Myra asked us to write a poem using dactyl and trochee rhythms, which are really somber rhythms. When I sat down to do the assignment, something very unexpected happened - out popped a poem about how sad and scary it was to have to visit my older sister in the mental hospital on my thirteenth birthday. I was embarrassed to share the poem with my teacher, because it was so personal. But when Myra read it, she suggested I write more poems about my sister, and that's how Stop Pretending, my first novel-in-verse, was born.

Towards the end of Stop Pretending, there are some poems about my first love, a boy named John. I had such a good time writing about those first feelings of passion, that I knew I wanted to write some more about them. I wanted to explore all the firsts that happen to teenaged girls: first bra, first period, first crush, first kiss. That's when the poems for What My Mother Doesn't Know began bubbling to the surface.

The idea for One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies came to me gradually. I was interested in telling a story about a girl who moves from the east coast to the west coast, because that's exactly what I did. And I thought it would be fun to let my character experience some of the same feelings of culture shock that I did when I first moved to California. I wanted to explore the idea of things not always being as they seem, and Hollywood seemed an especially good backdrop for a story that dealt with that subject.

I didn’t get the urge to write What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know until a couple of years after I wrote What My Mother Doesn’t Know. It happened because I kept getting emails from fans saying: “OMG! What happened next! I’ve got to know!” And after hearing this question posed day after day, year after year, I realized that I, too, wanted to know what happened next. And that the only way for me to find out was to write the sequel.

What is a typical writing day like for you? Do you have any ‘must-haves’ before you can sit down to write?
Actually, my writing day starts at night, when I get into bed. I load up my brain with a question that needs solving. Then I go to sleep and let my unconscious mind begin working on it.

In the morning, I take a two mile walk, carrying a pad of paper and a pencil with me. I walk and I think and I walk and I think, and while I'm doing all this walking and thinking I try to look at everything around me through my character's eyes. After awhile it becomes like a meditation, and then, if I'm lucky, an idea for a poem begins to flow and I jot down some notes. Then I head home and type the notes into my computer. I know that once I fling that pitiful rough draft onto the page, no matter how atrocious it is, I'll be able to turn it in to something good.

I write until it's time to pick up my kids from school. Then I spend the afternoon and evening with them. That's one of the great perks of being a writer: I get to make my own hours! After they go to bed, I usually reread what I wrote earlier in the day. I find that having had a few hours away from it helps me to see the weak spots more clearly. Then, it's time to reload my brain and let my unconscious mind get back to work, while I drift into dreamland.

The only "must have" is silence.


Thanks Sonya!

If you haven't checked it out yet here is the link to my 'Guide to Verse Novels: Sonya Sones' and you can read my reviews for Stop Pretending and One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies.

Reviews for What My Mother Doesn't Know and What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know will be posted tomorrow:)

*Photograph Credit: Ava Tramer, taken from the Sonya Sones Website.


Michelle Fluttering Butterflies said...

Oh I adore Sonya Sones, I think Stop Pretending was my introduction into verse novels.

I absolutely love the image of you walking and thinking every morning with a pad of paper.

Lauren said...

Thanks for this fascinating interview. It's especially interesting to read about how Sonya gets the inspiration for each poem. I've heard before that exercise stimulates the creative process and it sounds like this definitely works for Sonya.


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