This Friday Canadian writer, Tish Cohen, joins me for 9 questions. I reviewed Inside Out Girl last year and it was a 2008 favorite. Tish is a novelist, YA writer, and children’s book author. Visit her website http://www.tishcohen.com/ for more information. Thank you so much for answering my questions and for offering a free book, Tish!
Ms. Cohen is graciously offering a signed copy of Inside Out Girl to ONE lucky reader. To enter please leave a comment on this post after reading the interview, one entry per person. There are no shipping restrictions. I’ll draw a winner next Friday, February 6th, at noon.
1. Your first book, Town House, is being made into a movie. Can you tell us a little about the process and how involved you are?
I’m not involved in the process beyond getting to read the script and hearing which actors are being considered. But I’ve learned a great deal nonetheless–most of all that Hollywood is a hurry up and wait industry. I think it’s important to trust the people who are making your film adaptation – I feel pretty lucky with my studio, producer, screenwriter, and director. They all want to produce a quality film and I couldn’t ask for more than that.
2. I loved your novel, Inside Out Girl, and it’s most compelling character, Olivia, who is stricken with NLD (nonverbal learning disorders). What is the one thing you want people to know about this disorder?
My close friend is a family therapist and once told me her favorite clients are the children with non-verbal learning disorders, because of their loving dispositions–naivete’, and utter inability to connect with other children. She loved that they talked too close, constantly knocked things over, said the wrong thing, and still got lost on the way to the restroom down the hall in an office they’d been coming to for five years. Often they can’t walk up the stairs and talk at the same time, their clothes are inside out and their lack of motor skills means they can’t brush their own teeth. If you tell them to jump in a lake, they probably will. Frustrating, to say the least.
But they will hug you until you weep. They not only wear their hearts on their sleeves, but on a neon sign above their heads. They see nothing wrong with marching straight up to the meanest clique in middle grade or the bully everyone fears and wrapping themselves around them in a full-body hug. And they cannot for the life of them see why they’re rejected.
I thought about what it would mean to have a child with NLDand the joy and pain that would entail. Then I wondered what that parent would do if he found out he was dying and had to leave his daughter in a world that doesn’t understand her. The reason I chose a father and daughter for this story was very deliberate. Parents of girls with conditions such as NLD or Asperger’sface a very real threat, especially as their daughters reach adolescence. Girls with social disorders can be so naive that they can be easily preyed upon by males. And lacking a healthy level of skepticism or wariness, they can easily be lured into dangerous situations.
3. You have written two novels and a children’s book. How is the process of writing the two different?
Honestly, all the same elements go into a children’s book: character development, plot development, subplots and layered storylines, etc. It’s all there but the energy is amped up. Kids’ books can be quite a bit of fun and it’s always interesting to mine your children’s school lives for funny happenings!
4. What is the best aspect of life as a writer?
Hmm…great question. There are some things that are exciting–the film stuff and the TV stuff (Zoe Lama has been optioned for a television series), meeting other authors at literary events, forming close friendships with other writers who “get” what you’re going through. But I think the best aspect would be making up lives and characters and worlds for a living. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It gets to the point thinking about imaginary people keeps you sane!
5. How did you first get published?
I had certainly had much rejection before Town House sold. I secured an agent withmy first manuscript, but the book didn’t sell. And rightly so, as it was severely lacking in plot! I probably would have given up at that point but the rejections were quite encouraging so I wrote another manuscript using what I’d learned from the rejections. Also, I realized at that point I needed an agent who was more familiar with the fiction market (my first agent was primarily non-fiction) and parted ways withher, eventually landing the agent I have now. He’s a dream agent and was willing to work with me as I got the next book ready for sale. But that book didn’t sell. Came close but no sale. In the meantime, I wrote Town House, again, learning from my rejections. Then when it came time for my agent to send Town House to editors, I made a decision. If no one jumped on it right away, I would go fill out an application at The Gap. The book went out on a Thursday and, unbeknownst to me, the editors slipped it to literary scouts who work for Hollywood and a week later we had a film offer from Fox. It sold as a book one week later. The film thing was a huge shock, totally unexpected.
6. I love quotes. Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Martin. “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
7. What are you reading right now?
Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten-Year Nap. Great book.
8. If you got stuck in the life of one fictional character, who would you choose?
Miss Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. Horses, long dresses, and Mr. Darcy. Need I say more?
9. And finally, what are you working on right now?
My debut teen novel, Little Black Lies, is coming out in September, so I’m working on edits. And my third novel for adults comes out in a year, so I’m writing the first draft and having a ball with it.
Books by Tish Cohen- Town House, Inside Out Girl, Zoe Lama children’s books.
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