Author Caela Carter, who debuted her first novel back at the beginning of 2013, joins us at The Hiding Spot for this final day of the Fall Festival! I loved Caela’s debut, Me, Him, Them & It. It’s definitely my go-to recommendation for YA fiction that deals with teen pregnancy, but it’s also just one of my favorite realistic fiction novels. Check out my review, here, find out more about Caela and her writing below (I loved this interview!), and enter to win your own copy of this great title!
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
Man, the whole thing felt hard to write. It felt like taking a chisel to my chest and ripping it until the hole was large enough for Evelyn to escape onto the page. I don’t remember the drafting of the novel that clearly except for it being incredibly draining and exhilierating at the same time. I remember being wrapped in blankets in a freezing apartment and that the chair I sat in dug into the back of my thighs. And the sound. I remember the sound of my old computer clicking under my fingers.But I can’t remember if there were any characters or scenes that I fought with while drafting.I do remember the scenes I had to write over and over and over again. In particular, there’s a scene about a third of the way into the book where Evelyn’s parents give her their plan. It changed about a thousand times before anyone even read it, and then it felt like all of my betas and my agent and editors had a different reaction to it, so it kept changing after that. I still think about that scene all the time. Maybe it’s just a disturbing one.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The title changed completely. At first I resisted titling it at all. I had always heard that the author has no say in the title. My father is a newspaper reporter and as a child I was fascinated by the fact that he didn’t write his own headlines. I didn’t want to title it as I wrote it because I didn’t know what it was yet. But, I started writing what eventually became ME, HIM, THEM AND IT as a class assignment for my MFA program and my teacher, Hettie Jones, wanted us to title our work so we could talk about it in class. I had only about twenty pages written when I slapped the first title I thought of onto the manuscript. And it was a bad one: BABY STEPS.I ended up calling it BABY STEPS the entire time I was drafting and I even queried using that title. But, I didn’t like it. I thought it was cutesy and sweet and it did not match Evelyn or her manuscript at all.It was dumb of me to query with a title I didn’t like. But, that’s how it happened.Before I signed with Kate McKean we were already talking about a new title. I think she was a little nervous to tell me that she thought we should change the title before submitting but I said, “Oh, absolutely.” Together we came up with a list of titles and eventually chose ME, HIM, THEM, AND IT. During that process, I remember trying to shave down the layers of the manuscript and asking myself a lot “What is this book? What’s it really about?”One of my writerly friends said “It’s not about pregnancy, it’s about her” and that helped me think about a way to focus the title.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Oh, jeez! There are so many.I had a hard time learning how to read as a child, but since then I’ve always been a voracious reader. My love of Karen from the Baby Sitter’s Little Sister series helped me make that transition. So, in general life, I’d say Ann M. Martin was my biggest influence. Her books were the first I remember reading for fun. And, I honestly don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t spent my childhood buried in books, so I’d say that’s pretty significant.I read my way through most of my hometown library in middle school, but I’ll never forget the first time I read Cynthia Voigt. The first was called COME A STRANGER and it’s one of the lesser known volumes in the Tillerman cycle. At the time I didn’t know it was related to any other books. I only knew I was hooked. It wasn’t just entertaining, it was beautiful: the nuanced characters, the layers of story, the ribbons of sentences. I wanted to write like that.I still do.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
Oh yes. I was a teacher for six years. Somehow it took me six years of their almost-constant company to realize that I was writing for teenagers.I was working at a school that was dedicated to helping young people use their education to better their lives. My students were fearless, compassionate, and determined and the admiration I have for 12 to 15 year-olds definitely effects my writing of characters those ages.Also, my students taught me so much about how to love. And, ultimately, I write because I love.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Hi.Because anything could come next.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Well, books, of course. Well-crafted television. Really, any kind of story. Documentaries, conversations, talk radio. I’m into story-telling in general.And if all else fails, a hug from my husband makes any crappy day better.
ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?
Earn extra entries by following the Fall Festival blogs listed here!