1. First off, tell us a little bit about your new novel.
My next book is called Snap, and it will be released on August 25. My first review just came in from Kirkus. They said, “Snow blends mysticism, suspense and realistic family problems into a well-tuned chiller with enormous teen appeal.” I hope readers agree!
Anyway, here’s the set up: High school sophomore and avid photographer Madison Sabatini goes to Sandyland for what she thinks is a beach vacation, only to realize that her entire world is about to fall apart. Until now, her family had plenty of money, but her father’s business has failed, and they can no longer afford the kinds of houses, clothes and vacations they once took for granted. To distract herself, Madison throws herself into her photography, but before long, even that turns weird. People start showing up in her photographs – even though she’s positive they weren’t there when she took the pictures. With her new townie friends, she sets to work identifying the mysterious figures, but what begins as a fun distraction turns terrifying when bad things start happening to the people in her pictures.
2. Where did you get the idea for the supernatural aspect of Snap?
I never wrote anything supernatural before my first teen novel, Switch (which is about a body switcher), and I really enjoyed being able to push the limits of what is real or possible. When I was trying to come up with an idea for a follow-up book, my sister suggested I write about photography. I immediately thought about having unexplained figures showing up in the narrator’s pictures, but it took me a long time to decide what they were doing there.
3. Are you anything like your main character, personality-wise?
We’re both terribly sarcastic. I like to think I’m more mature. At the very least, I’m a lot older, so hopefully that counts for something –?
4. In Snap, the main character, Madison, is an amateur photographer. Are you an amateur photographer or hobbyist as well? If not, what is your favorite hobby?
I’ve been taking photographs since I was about fourteen. Like Madison, I was a photographer for my high school yearbook. That was a big deal in the pre-digital age, because it meant I had unlimited access to film and developing.
5. Both Snap and Switch feature a “sleepy beach town” as their setting, is there any particular reason?
Actually, they’re set in the same (fictional) sleepy beach town. When I was growing up, I spent my summers on Cape Cod. I still spend a month there with my family every summer (actually, that’s where I’m writing from), plus I spend another week with my husband’s family in Carpinteria, California (which bears a strong resemblance to the fictional Sandyland). For me beach towns have a magical quality: it feels like time stands still and anything can happen.
6. What was the most difficult aspect of writing Snap and Switch? Switch was easy to write because the entire plot came to me in the space of a few hours. (I’ve written six books, and sadly, that’s the only time that’s happened.) In Snap, it was a challenge to balance the two sides of the book: the real crisis of Madison’s disintegrating family life and the supernatural mystery of the photographs.
7. Did you always want to be a writer?
No. When I was a child, I wanted to be a waitress. I’m serious.
8. What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
All writers seem to have weird resumes. Here’s mine (starting from age sixteen and working to the present): daycare worker; hotel chambermaid; restaurant kitchen worker; secretary for an orthodox Jewish day camp; waitress (a dream realized??? no – I was awful); fire museum tour guide; president’s assistant in a gift company; secretary at a social services agency; waitress (yes, again – I was putting myself through graduate school . . . and I was still awful); high school teacher; political campaign worker; publicist for a vanity press; freelance writer; full-time mother; and … novelist!
Yes, definitely, it’s all helped me as a writer. The wider your experiences and the greater variety of people you meet, the more you have to write about.
9. When and where do you usually write?
During the school year, I write at home while my children are in school. I sit (slump) on a couch with my laptop. As a result, my posture is terrible. When I’m on vacation, like now, I write in the mornings. I take a cup of coffee and my laptop and go back to bed. Again: bad for the back. Good for the soul.
10. Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
I need quiet. Salty snacks and caffeine help. A cat on the lap is welcome but not a requirement.
11. What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Good question! I have no idea. I’ve always read widely and often. When I was growing up, we didn’t get television reception in our house on Cape Cod, and there were summers when I read a book a day, even though I’m not an especially fast reader. I read everything from Judith Krantz and Mary Higgins Clark to Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Jane Austen, John Irving, Gustav Flaubert . . . pretty much anything that sounded halfway interesting. I didn’t discriminate between “pulp” and “literature” – I just wanted a good story.
12. What are currently reading?
I just started Sue Grafton’s T is for Trespass.
13. What book are you anxiously awaiting?
Nothing, really – I’m too busy trying to catch up on all the books I’ve meant to read!
14. Can you tell us anything about your next novel?
My next novel is general (not YA) fiction, but it would probably appeal to older teens. Just Like Me, Only Better is about a struggling single mother who is hired to be a celebrity double for an imploding Hollywood star. It will be out in April 2010.
15. The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
My cat, Cecil. Whenever I’m feeling down, I bury my face in his fluffy stomach and pretend I’m not allergic.
Thank you Carol for taking the time to chat with The Hiding Spot!
Carol is also donating a finished copy of SNAP to one lucky winner. Go here to enter the contest!