You may remember that little (or not so little) review post that went up yesterday about this book called “The Boyfriend Thief”. You can find that HERE. I got the fortunate opportunity to also do an interview with the amazing author, Shana Norris.
Well first of all, Shana thank you so much for doing this interview with Me, My Shelf and I.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review The Boyfriend Thief!
Well let’s start right off then. Was the title always “The Boyfriend Thief” or did it start as something different since you’ve been working on it for a while? (Since the age of 16)
The title was always The Boyfriend Thief. Which is rare for me, I usually can't think of a title I like until after the book is done or else the title gets changed at some point. I did consider a few other options right before publishing it, but none of them stuck out as much as The Boyfriend Thief did (and my agent and beta readers agreed, so the title stayed!).
That’s pretty amazing. On your site, you said that when you first worked on this, Avery was a lot different…meaner. How did you manage to tone her down to the character she is now?
In the VERY first version of the story, which is completely different from the story we have now, Avery willingly went into the boyfriend thief deal without a second thought. She was much more self-centered and didn't care who she hurt. She might have even enjoyed hurting people because of how much she had been hurt. But it was hard to connect to her because she never showed any vulnerability. So in later drafts, I worked on breaking through Avery's tough exterior and showing those hurt feelings she carries, and how easily she doubts herself at times. It was hard to find a balance between tough and likable. My critique partners were VERY helpful for this. They weren't afraid to tell me when Avery was acting too much like a brat!
Then there’s Zac…did your inspiration for Zac’s job come from you working at a lock shop when you were younger?
Yes, it did! That actually was never in the first draft of the book, it only was added in within the past year. I had wanted for a while to write about a character working in a locksmith shop just because it was my first job and it was SO slow and boring that I had to find ways to entertain myself, just like Zac does. And I always say that if nothing else ever works out for me, at least I know how to make keys. ;)
It’s always good to be able to fall back on something right? Did you ever have a friend like Molly – or did you have more that were like Hannah growing up?
Molly is probably a good combination of several friends I had growing up. I didn't have any one person who was like her, but I knew people who had different parts of their personalities that were like hers. Hannah is like someone I once knew--not a close friend, but someone I was friendly with--but she's a more exaggerated version of that person! I would say most of my friends were more like Molly than Hannah.
Did you always have in mind while writing this story that Hannah would never truly forgive Avery?
At first, I didn't know exactly how the book would end between Hannah and Avery. I had originally thought about having them end on good terms and maybe even become friends. But as I wrote the story, I knew that there isn't always an easy solution to every problem. Some things can't be fixed and maybe Hannah was a little more hurt by Avery's actions than she ever realized. I'm actually considering writing a sequel from Hannah's point of view because I think she leaves a lot of things unresolved.
Well as quoted from your book “Maybe some things can’t be fixed”. Perhaps such is true for Avery and Hannah. Now I love when authors make playlists for their books, and you have done such for "The Boyfriend Thief" - what is your favorite song from that playlist...or do you have one? (I'm a sucker for That's When I Love You)
I love that song too! It's a great song for the relationship between Avery and Zac, that even though neither one of them is even close to being perfect, they're still worthy of being loved. My favorite song on the playlist is probably "Name" by The Goo Goo Dolls. It's been kind of my theme song for the book. I like the lyrics "But if you could hide beside me maybe for awhile and I won't tell no one your name." I like the idea of that, of having someone who knows what you keep hidden, but is willing to protect that part of you. This was my theme song especially for the scenes where Avery and Zac are alone in her car at night, which are the times she becomes the most open and vulnerable.
Seriously, everyone take a listen to the playlist. It’s kind of epic. What did you aspire to be growing up?
From the time that I was about 11, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Before that, I had never thought that I could make a living out of the stories I liked to write. So my dreams before then were to be a teacher, a ballerina, and an archaeologist. All at the same time. I had it planned out that I could teach during the weekdays, be in ballet performances at night, and then be an archaeologist on weekends and summer vacation. Never mind the fact that I've never taken a ballet lesson in my life!
What is the biggest thing you've taken away from writing?
Writing has helped me to understand people better. As a writer, you have to put yourself into different points of view and your characters don't always believe the same things you do. So it's really helped me to see where other people are coming from and better understand why they make the decisions they do.
Do you think others’ styles of writing have influenced your own?
Meg Cabot definitely reminded me to have fun at a point when I wasn't having fun in my writing, so her writing has been one of my biggest influences. Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott's amazing books have also influenced me a lot lately by making me want to push deeper into my characters.
Speaking of, you mentioned that one of your favorite writers is Meg Cabot - she happens to be my absolute fav and the reason I started reading again - so, what is your favorite book by her?
I'm a huge fan of the whole Princess Diaries series! Her books are what made me want to write YA. I had gone through a period where all I read was high fantasy or literary novels, but after seeing The Princess Diaries movie I decided to check out the books at the library. The books, of course, are very different from the movie, but I loved them so much. I have the whole collection and keep them on my main bookcase in my living room.
Do you think in writing, you’ll always stick to the YA genre?
Most likely, though I'm interested in middle grade as well! I've tried adult literature and I've tried high fantasy, but I've had the most fun with YA and it's where all my ideas seem to lean toward these days. I really, really love writing about this time in your life when you go through so many experiences while trying to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. It's a fun time to explore in writing, and I absolutely love the emails I get from teen readers. I think YA fans (of all ages) are some of the most devoted readers and I love talking with YA fans about how they connect to stories.
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone, whether it be an aspiring writer, avid reader, or just someone in general?
Laugh. A lot. The worst rejection I ever got wasn't the worst because it was mean or anything like that, it was the worst because it arrived the same day my cat died. I was already upset over that and then this rejection from an agent came in the mail. I could either cry and give in to the urge to just give up, or else I could laugh, pick myself back up, and keep going. I wrote what became my first published book because I wanted something that would make me laugh after the years of getting nowhere in my agent hunt. Just laugh a lot, because if you let all the little things bring you down you'll never get anywhere.
What is one of the best lessons you’ve learned in life?
Everyone is weird. Funny, but true. :) I really could have used this bit of information during my teens, when I was sure that I didn't fit in anywhere and was the oddball in every group. Everyone else is just as weird in their own ways!
Well I’m weird, so that explains a lot! And a silly sort of question (because everyone seriously needs them) - If you could take three items to a deserted island - what would they be and why?
My 90-year-old copy of Dante's Inferno because it's one of my prized possessions which I found in an antique store on my honeymoon and because I would need something to read. My husband because he would come in handy for gathering food (and okay, it would be nice to have someone to talk to). And a blanket because I am always cold!
Well, that’s all the time we have with awesome author Shana Norris,
Thanks so much for the fun interview!
And as a special treat, Shana has agreed to give out an eBook of her book so some lucky person can read and enjoy “The Boyfriend Thief” just as much as I did!