Ladies and gentlemen! Today I bring you an interview with the amazing Ally Sestito from the blog Novel Ideas: Life of a Teen Writer, which chronicles her journey from “caterpillar writer to butterfly author” 🙂 So without further ado!
How’d you get started writing?
Ally: I guess I’ve always been a writer. When I was little I had this insane imagination that often got me in trouble, whether I was imagining the stair way was a toboggan run (that ended badly) or making up stories in my head a church (gee I looked spaced out A LOT) I always had a tale running through my mind. After I went through fourth grade I started to write down these ideas. My fourth grade teacher was amazing, and we had free writing time every day. With that time I wrote my first novel (well… I thought it was a novel. It had chapters!). Granted it was a very bad novel, but it was a start!
[Gab: Haha. And chapters are the important thing, aren’t they?]
What made you start blogging?
Ally: Well, I had started (or tried to start) a blog before, but I had never had enough discipline, or motivation to keep up with it. One cold December I decided to try again (I was in the middle of draft one of my novel, and really needed a place to vent, so Novel Ideas began and has been going strong ever since! 😀
Can you tell us a little bit (or a lot!) about Before This Ends?
Ally: BTE is a dystopian YA novel that centers around the fall of a utopia. I got to thinking one day how many novels take on the subject of bringing down unjust society. (Hunger games, Delirum, The Giver, The Uglies, Matched, just to name a few.) And I couldn’t help but wonder what happens afterthey defeat the society, and would the outcome really be better than the original government (after all, wrecking a stable society can’t be a good thing, right?) So BTE was actually born of its prequel that’s currently in the works “A Light That Shatters”
Here’s BTE’s blurb:
Every breath I take may be my last. Everyday leaves with no promise of tomorrow. Only the dust and concrete of the streets are certain anymore, but even these solid things are falling away with the bombs. They are all lost in the swarms of patrolling soldiers.
I thought the patrols were trying to find us, but I was wrong. They were looking for him. That is one thing I am sure of. That they will try to kill all of us, for him. Him and his secrets.
But I need his help. However uncertain his loyalties, like flower petals in the wind, maybe. I need him to get my family back… to get my life back.
Violet Safley is stuck in the tunnels under Irona. Stuck in the endless circle of patrols and bombs that cycle through its streets. Then she discovers Caleb Steel, a part of the thought extinct Order of The Guardians. She can’t trust him, but without him, she may have no chance of saving her Family or herself.
[Gab: !!! That sounds really suspense… ish. Suspenseful? I think that’s the word…]
Who’s your favorite writer?
Ally: I can’t believe you’re asking me to pick just one! Haha, but I’d have to stay Maggie Stiefvater. She has a beautiful lyrical style of writing, and her books have so much emotion packed into them that it’s hard to stand. I’m really looking forward to her next book “The Scorpio Races” that comes out in October!
How do you prepare to write? Do you plot? Dive right in?
Ally: Most of the time I just start writing I get a loose idea of character, and what that character wants and then I start. For me first drafts are kind of me working out what the story really is. Second drafts are where the story begins to have a definite direction. I plot during first drafts, and right before second, and third. After that I can usually move on to betas and crit partners, and then it starts all over again!
[Gab: We write kind of alike :)]
What’s your writing space like?
Ally: I have a small desk in my room that has a book shelf on top where I keep all my favorite novels. My desk has a few pieces of my art above it along with a bunch of post it’s with random ideas scribbled all over. I have a really cool old coffee bean can I painted that is filled with an assortment of pens, pencils, and other office supplies. I also have my ipod dock next to my laptop so I can blast my music when I’m working. Though, I work on my bed quite a lot too.
[Same here about working on the bed. I just have to be careful not to fall asleep!]
How do you balance life and writing?
Ally: That’s a good question. A hard one too… Well, I’d have to say that keeping a consistent schedule really helps. Knowing exactly when I MUST write helps it to become habit. I have a very limited amount of time to write during the school year. I run track (as many of you know), I’m on the school paper, and I also work part time. So when I have my hour set aside to write. I write. Period. If I don’t I’ll never get anything done!
Do you think your career will be in writing?
Ally: I HOPE so! Though, I realize that until you get published its difficult to support yourself. I think that I’d like to be a teacher, or go into publishing until I get to the point where I can support myself full time on writing. (If I get there J) Anything is possible though!
What are your biggest writing distractions and how do you beat them?
Ally: Oh my! The internet is a HUGE one. If I log on just to check my word press, I then go off on tangents: Gmail, to yahoo, to critique circle, to novel research. It’s terrible! I’ve found that deleting the short cut on your desktop to your internet browser helps a lot. It’s not nearly as tempting to have to go to your program files just to do a Google search when you should be writing. Another is music. I LOVE music, and it’s super important to my writing process the only problem is that I tend to stay online looking for music too long, and waste my writing time. I fix this by condemning myself to JUST my ipod music, until I’m done with my writing session then I reward myself with a trip to itunes or Napster J!
[Gab: This question reminded me of the time I spent my whole writing hour creating an iTunes playlist to write to ^_^]
Do you write with a computer, sticky notes, pen and paper/etc?
Ally: I do most of my writing on my laptop, though I am absolutely addicted to post its. I keep them on my desk, in my hand bag, on my nightstand, in my school binders; so when inspiration strikes I’m ready to write it down!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Ally: … Gee, I’ve had A LOT of good writing advice dished at me, but I’d have to say that “DON’T GET IT RIGHT GET IT WRITTEN” would be the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. That is my mantra throughout every piece of writing I’ve ever done. Otherwise I find it hard to move one. I tend to have a bit of an OCD streak and if the words aren’t flowing I always want to edit! I even wrote an entire post on it HERE(http://novelideaslifeofateenwriter.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/the-blues-some-swans-and-a-mantra/)
What’s your best/favorite writing experience?
Ally: When I got my writing critiqued for the first time (not from a relative or at school) it was really good for me, because I realized that(maybe) I wasn’t as terrible as I’d thought. Up until that point I’d just written because I liked to not because I thought I was any good. At that point I thought I had absolutely NO CHANCE to ever be published. My first review gave me a huge confidence boost, and also taught me that your writing has really good parts and really bad parts. You just have to learn how to separate the two, and understand that one bad part doesn’t make you a bad writer.
[Gab: Very true!]
Random questions! Sharpies or ballpoint pens?
Sharpies! I ❤ SHARPIES!
Pink or red?
Red. Being a blonde and all pink has kind of been out since I hit middle school. At that point I was kind of tired of playing with Barbie’s, and being called one. Cutting out pink cuts down on that a lot ;D
Cartoons or comic books?
Cartoons! Best ever = Avatar The Last Airbender!
Thank you for having me Gabriellan! 🙂
Thanks for being here, Ally! I, for one, am removing the Google Chrome shortcut from my desktop ASAP 🙂