Book Nerd Interview
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
HIS DARK MATERIALS by Phillip Pullman… the trilogy together, as one book, the way Pullman intends them. I love this book because its message inspires me—that experience is preferable to innocence, and that there is great beauty in maturity.
Outside of my genre, I love such a wide variety of books that it’s hard to pick. Right now I really, really love Cheryl Strayed’s TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
In graduate school, one of my professors told me that if I had access to a world that most people were unfamiliar with, to write about that world. I know horses.
Did you learn anything from writing Sacred and what was it?
I thought I’d escaped the debut novelist’s tendency to write a thinly veiled autobiography—after all, I’d never lived on an island or met a Kabbalah mystic or lost a brother. But stepping away from SACRED, I saw how much of me (the parts of me I’d tried to hide) bled through, anyway—my broken family, my loneliness, the separation I have felt from my own flesh. Writing SACRED, I learned that I am a novelist, which kind of blew my mind, but I also learned that part of me is still that lonely, introspective, self-harming teenage girl I thought I’d left behind.
What part of Will did you enjoy writing the most?
The kissing scenes. Will is an excellent kisser.
For those who are unfamiliar with Scarlett, how would you introduce her?
Scarlett is good at lots of things—caring for and riding her mare, excelling at school, performing in plays, and pretending that everything is okay, when really it isn’t.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m so proud to say that Random House/Delacorte will be publishing two more of my books this year—BURNING, in June, and SACRED’s sequel SPLENDOR in November. BURNING is told from alternating points of view; here’s a little more:
Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.
Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala’s been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.
SPLENDOR expands and complicates SACRED’s characters and relationships. I really, really love its ending; it’s my favorite ending that I’ve ever written.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Martin Cohen, Will’s father, to Anna from Erica Lorraine Scheidt’s beautiful, heartbreaking debut USES FOR BOYS, because Anna would find him to be an excellent listener and good friend. Also, she would appreciate his delicious, home-cooked meals.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I have thought and thought about this question, and I can’t come up with an answer. Not because I don’t lie, necessarily… maybe whatever the question is, I’ve lied to myself about the answer so many times that I don’t remember the truth!
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
I call my sisters, Sasha and Mischa. If one of them doesn’t answer, the other usually does.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I worked as a riding instructor and trail guide at a summer camp. Yes, there will be a novel. The stories are too good (and wild!) not to share.
Who was your first boyfriend?
Jacob Charles Robinson… Jake. He pegged his jeans and had the softest lips, and took a bus across town from his high school to walk me home from junior high.
Tell me about your first kiss.
It was with Jake, at a Halloween party. I was dressed as Scarlett O’Hara and our names got picked in a round of Seven Minutes in Heaven. We went together into the darkened kitchen. His fingers wound through mine, the way I always pictured a boy taking my hand would be, and he stepped in, close. He was tall and smelled so good, so fresh and male and different, and when he brought his mouth down against mine, I felt just as I imagined Scarlett herself must have, like a cat with milk on her whiskers.
When was the last time you cried?
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
Absolutely it would be harder to tell someone that I did not love them back.
The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.
Losing a family member is not an easy task to deal with. It involves an assortment of emotions that affects the way a person reacts to others and towards themselves. Author Elana does a remarkable job of describing the roller coaster of emotions that Scarlett goes through. Readers are able to understand the reasonings why Scarlett feels a certain way through her amazing writing style. She digs deep within the core of that emotion and methodically grabs the reader and places them in it, soaking up all that Scarlett feels. Even when Scarlett meets Will, Elana delivers an amazing presentation of what it feels like to be at the other end of the tunnel, only to pull the rug right under your feet when she drops a surprising revelation.
This complex story about a grief stricken family tells in details how each member copes with the death of a loved one. The choices on this tough journey they are on will have major influences not only on themselves, but also the others in the family. This is an incredible uplifting tale of a lost girl who finds herself through strength and the longing to move forward.
You can purchase Sacred at the following Retailers:
Scarlett loves the touch of her boyfriend, Will. But when he leaves Catalina Island to start college on the East Coast, she wonders whether their passion can survive a long-distance relationship—and whether she can face the home front on her own. Scarlett's senior year should be a breeze, but her parents have recently separated, and her already-wild best friend, Lily, is becoming involved with a dangerous boy named Gunner . . . a boy Scarlett is also attracted to. A boy she doesn't want to be—and shouldn't be—attracted to.
To take her mind off her troubles, Scarlett focuses on caring for her newly pregnant mare and delving deeper into the Kabbalah. Her religious exploration offers a way to stay connected to Will, who is a Kabbalah mystic, and a key to understanding her disturbing dreams about him. But as she gets wrapped up in her mare, her Kabbalah studies, and her conflicting feelings for Will and Gunner, Scarlett misses the warning signs that lead to a heartbreaking loss.