Friday, September 7, 2012

Ann Redisch Stampler Author Interview

Photo Content from Ann Redisch Stampler

ANN REDISCH STAMPLER was the mild mannered author of literary picture books when she broke out, tore off her tasteful string of pearls, and started writing edgy, contemporary young adult novels set in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and writer's-helper rescue dog - without whose compelling distraction she would have no doubt penned dozens of novels by now.

What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
I see YA as coming of age stories. Which would make a lot of Jane Austen, and Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, and Catcher in the Rye, and A Separate Peace all YA. The short stories I published before I started to write books, which were ostensibly for adult readers, dealt mostly with people in this age range.

I find identity, the process of defining oneself, to be extremely interesting to write about. And while it’s a lifelong process, it’s particularly intense in the teens and early twenties.

I didn’t actually set out to write YA. I just ended up channeling Gabby Gardiner’s voice and she’s sixteen and there you go.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
How much I love my characters and how real they are to me, because that gets a bit weird and surprising to me, too.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I’ve been writing short stories and poems and pieces of longer works that never actually got finished since I was a little kid, but I didn’t write anything that vaguely resembled a book ready for publication until I was in my ‘30’s – and we’re talking picture books. Where It Began is my first novel.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to read. How to love books. How to read a book that’s in your lap while appearing to pay attention to something else, such as the teacher. How to make up stories while appearing to pay attention to something else. Such as everything. Does this count as one thing? It is all sort of related.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Nice. Funny. Passionate.

Did you learn anything from writing Where it Began and what was it?
I learned how to structure a novel in the process, and it was purely trial and error. The discovery that lots and lots of pages with the same characters and something approximating a story arc does not, in fact, constitute a novel came as something of a shocker. I rewrote many, many times.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gabby, how would you introduce her?
Gabby Gardiner is a sixteen year old girl with a rye, cynical view of her self-consciously elite, high pressure Los Angeles prep school. But not so much that she’s able to get past her desire to meet her parents’ expectations that she be the kind of perfect, popular conformist girl she just isn’t destined to be. Despite an almost blind love of the boyfriend whose approval confers status and a sense of being better than painfully “sub-regular,” Gabby has decisions to make and difficult steps to take in order to reclaim herself.

What part of Billy did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing Billy. I loved balancing the different aspects of his character, making him smart and seductive, but also manipulative with his very dark side. I wanted readers to understand why Gabby wanted him so much, at the same time they might want to slap her upside the head.

If you could introduce Gabby to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Emma, the protagonist of my next book, Afterparty. She lives only two zip codes over and they know some of the same people, and their schools play in the same league, but they never actually meet.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Children’s book writers and YA novelists are the best. They just are. I’ve gotten so much help, guidance, and support from so many people along the way that there’s no one person I can name.

And I’m not being Pollyanna, life is sparkly, everyone is extra-special wonderful, jollylittle-fairies-pour-happy-thoughts-into-my-ears-in-times-of-trouble fatuous either

If you take a look at the acknowledgments at the back of Where It Began, you’ll see a bunch of people who were supremely helpful. Not to mention writers on the Pubsters listserv. Or the YA Writers one. And Alexandra Flinn, whom I don’t think I even mentioned, who is perhaps slightly busy writing NY Times bestsellers, but who nevertheless made herself so available -- even though she has never even met me in person! Wow.

Not to mention, post-publication, I’ve become a member of the LAYAS (Los Angeles YA novelists) and a Facebook group of L.A. debut novelists, and again, I’ve never come upon such mutually supportive, smart, creative, and basically great people in my life.

How many books have you written?
This is just me, but I don’t call books “books” until the ink on the contract is dry. Otherwise I get way too optimistic about the fate of manuscripts. So, using that criterion, I’ve written eight books, six picture books and two novels.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
This is at the core of Where It Began: Do not allow yourself to be defined by others. Identity is purely a do-it-yourself proposition. Be brave, be bold, and be yourself.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
You know, I don’t think there is one. I mean, when people ask how I am I tend to say I’m fine even when I’m not fine, that kind of thing, but nothing substantial. Which is interesting, because the protagonist of the new novel, Afterpary, lies from cover to (almost) cover. To everyone who’s important to her, and to herself. I like to think that that’s one aspect of her character I don’t share.

What’s your most missed memory?
My dad died when I was a teenager. He was only 49. I wish I had clear and specific memories of all those breakfasts we ate in diners together, and bowling with him when we still lived on Long Island, and the conversations when we were poking around in the tide pools off Santa Barbara and when he drove me up the San Marcos Pass and onto the Camino Cielo in another one of his decrepit sports cars, and the sound of his voice. All of it.

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My husband.

When was the last time you cried?
Just now. Thinking about my dad. I teared up a bit.

A teen’s world comes crashing down in this compulsively readable YA debut that’s as literary as it is commercial.Gabby Gardiner wakes up in a hospital bed looking like a cautionary ad for drunk driving—and without a single memory of the accident that landed her there. But what she can recall, in frank and sardonic detail, is the year leading up to the crash.

As Gabby describes her transformation from Invisible Girl to Trendy Girl Who Dates Billy Nash (aka Most Desirable Boy Ever), she is left wondering: Why is Billy suddenly distancing himself from her? What do her classmates know that Gabby does not? Who exactly was in the car that night? And why has Gabby been left to take the fall?

As she peels back the layers of her life, Gabby begins to realize that her climb up the status ladder has been as intoxicating as it has been morally complex...and that nothing about her life is what she has imagined it to be.


"Gabby's voice is bitter and cynical, yet compelling and heartbreaking. [R]eaders will cheer for her when she finally recognizes her own worth."

"The relentlessly wry and sarcastic tone of this first-person yarn instantly grabs readers' interest and propels the story forward. Stampler paints a ruthless portrait of wealthy Los Angeles, but she finds the occasional human being there too. Readers will find much cynicism but also humor and insight into a corrupt system not necessarily confined to the rich. Clever and constantly interesting, this is as much a winner as Gabby." 
Kirkus Reviews

"Unputdownable!" Jenny Han, bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty

"Stampler's story of a girl's obsession with a guy at the expense of all else is powerful, and Gabby's alcohol problem, her devotion to Billy, and her overall denial are entirely believable. Gabby's sardonic voice will draw readers into the story immediately, as Stampler delivers a searing portrayal of power, privilege, and betrayal in the hills above Los Angeles." Publishers Weekly

"A terrific read! Ann Stampler puts you in Gabby's head and keeps you there until the gripping conclusion. A writer to watch!" Alex Flinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beastly

Where it Began by Ann Redisch Stampler is a compelling story about a teenage girl, Gabby, who wakes up in a hospital after a horrific car accident. She is blamed for the accident but she has no recollection of the events that happened that night.

Ann puts the reader deep into Gabby’s head and exposes them to all of the intimate emotions that she feels after that night in question. The way Ann describes Gabby is convincing and real. She makes bad choices and can get into a bad mood at times. This realness she gives in Gabby will have readers relating to her.

Sometimes it is difficult to place humor inside a drama. However, Ann’s writing style maintains a cunning sense of humor in the middle of a very excruciating event. It is amazing to read a book that centers around heartache, confusion and abandonment, but yet still has wittiness.

It is quite evident that Ann is very familiar with the setting. She describes these southern California cities with precise details and precision. Even for readers who have never traveled to these famous cities, Ann’s descriptive text provides a clear picture.

Where it Began begins with a simple premise that seemingly includes a highly predictable ending. However, after a few chapters, readers will immediately realize that they are in for a surprise. The plot is truly compelling and will have readers emotionally engaged throughout. The unfolding of the events is satisfying. This contemporary debut novel proves that Ann will be a major player in that genre and it is certain that her next book will be a must-read.

You can purchase Where it Began at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ANN REDISCH STAMPLER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a copy of Where it Began and a Signed Bookmark by Ann Redisch Stampler.
2 Winners will receive a Signed Bookmark of Where it Began by Ann Redisch Stampler.


  1. Awesome! Love the post, thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Great giveaway!!! Can't wait to read this book!!!

  3. Great giveaway =) hope to win =P

  4. Great interview. Thanks for the giveaway and thank you to Ann Redisch for the donation :)

  5. The book looks fantastic! Thank you for your giveaways

  6. thanks so much for the giveaway, the book sounds like a great read!!

  7. Thank you so much for the chance of winning your book. I would really like to read it!!

  8. Thank you so much for the giveaway!! I really hope to win! :)

  9. Thank you very much, Ann, for this chance to win!

  10. Thank you for the giveaway, Ann!! :)

  11. Great giveaway, Anne! Thanks so much. The story sounds great. I can't wait to read it :)

  12. Thank you so much for the giveaway :)

  13. Always finding books to read...thank you for this giveaway!!