Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview with Leila Sales (Past Perfect Blog Tour)

Today we have Leila Sales, author of Mostly Good Girls and Past Perfect, here for an interview! This post is part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for Past Perfect. You can find out more about the tour here. Make sure to visit all the other stops of the blog tour if you'd like to know more about Past Perfect!

Have you aways loved writing? What made you decide to write for teens?
Yes, I have always loved writing! And I have loved writing for teens ever since I was a teenager myself. I started reading and writing YA lit when I was in middle school, and I just never stopped.

Can you tell us a bit about the writing process? Do you have any weird writing habits? How has writing this novel been different from wiritng your debut, Mostly Good Girls?
I wrote MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS on and off over the course of two years. I didn’t have an agent or a book contract at the time, so there wasn’t any rush. PAST PERFECT, on the other hand, I wrote in about six months. It was already under contract with Simon Pulse, so there was a deadline in place before I even knew what my second book would be about. I wrote the last 20,000 words in 21 days—and that was while I was working a 9-to-5 job, too. It was not the easiest 21 days in my life, but I look back on it now and I feel like, “Wow, I did that!”

Also, PAST PERFECT is a more linear story than MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS. With a few exceptions, I wrote the scenes in PAST PERFECT in the order that they now appear in the finished book. On the other, writing MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS required a lot of arranging and rearranging the chapters. So in many ways the experience of writing PAST PERFECT was different from the experience of writing MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS.

As for weird writing habits… I eat a lot of chocolate chips as I write. I mean A LOT. I usually eat chocolate chips and write until I feel too sick to my stomach to go on, and that’s how I know I’m done writing for the night. I do not necessarily recommend this as an artistic technique.

If you coud pair your main character, Chelsea, up with any character from any book, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough question! There are so many good options. I think I’d go with Naomi, the protagonist in Gabrielle Zevin’s MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC, because both Naomi and Chelsea grapple with some similar questions of memory and self-reinvention. Plus, I’m just crazy about that book!

Chelsea has a summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village, a historical reenactment village - why did you decide to make Chelsea work at a place like that? Did you have to do a lot of research in order to be able to write that storyline?
The summer I was 19, I had a part-time summer job as a costumed tour guide on Boston’s Freedom Trail. I wrote a number of short essays about it at the time—about how hot it was in those thick layers of clothes, how seriously everyone took it when the British redcoat reenactors showed up on the Fourth of July, how hard it was to flirt with boys using only Colonial vocabulary. I felt like there was a longer story in there, but it took a number of year for me to figure out what that story was. I drew on those essays and my journal from that summer as I wrote PAST PERFECT.

As I was writing this book, I also took a research road trip down to Colonial Williamsburg along with my writing partner, Rebecca Serle. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was very helpful, and they set up a meeting between me and one of their teen interpreters. The poor girl, though—I kept asking her questions like, “So, do you ever date any of the guys here?” or, “Where would you say the ‘cool kids’ work? Like, in the stables? The church? Or what?”

Thanks for the great interview answers, Leila!

Make sure to check out all the other stops of the blog tour, and keep your eye out for Past Perfect, which has already been released.

Past Perfect by Leila Sales
A summer job is exactly the distraction that Chelsea needs in order to finally get over Ezra, the boy who dumped her and broke her heart to pieces just a few weeks before. So when Chelsea's best friend, Fiona, signs them up for roles at Essex Historical Colonial Village, Chelsea doesn't protest too hard, even though it means spending the summer surrounded by drama geeks and history nerds. Chelsea will do anything to forget Ezra.
But when Chelsea and Fiona show up for their new jobs, they find out Ezra's working there too. Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. ...or will this turn out to be exactly the summer that Chelsea needed, after all?


  1. Great interview! I'm really intrigued by this book it's been getting good feedback.

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Her first book sounded familiar and I had to Google it, then I went, "Ah. Okay." That had to be funny, about the girl in The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; the author asking her those questions! (laughs) I wonder if she read the book!


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