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Monday, May 26, 2008

Interview with Ms. Jennifer Banash!

My thanks to the lovely Jennifer Banash, author of The Elite series (the first book hits book stores June 3rd!!) for this wonderful and hilarious interview! Thanks for taking the time out for this interview, Ms. Banash!

Don't forget to buy The Elite in June! And for all you Elite fans out there, book two, In Too Deep, will be in book stores in January 09!

And stay tuned for your chance to win a copy of The Elite!


1) Where did you get your inspiration for The Elite?
I went to high school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so that’s really where the inspiration for THE ELITE came from. My writing teachers always told me to write what I knew, so when I got the opportunity to create my own series, it just seemed natural for me to set it in that world.

2) If you had to pick one, which character would you like to spend a day as from The Elite?
Definitely Madison Macallister—it’s like playing the villain in a movie—being the bitch is always more fun! But, that being said, in many ways, Madison has the toughest life of any of the other characters—the pressure she’s under to conform to that Upper East Side idea of teen perfection is absolutely tremendous. I always like to write Madison’s chapters when I’m having a bad day—the sense of righteous indignation her character often feels is really cathartic if you’re in the right mood . . .

3) I understand that you attended high school in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, like Casey. Did you enjoy that experience?
I did enjoy that experience. My school was really small—my graduating class was less than ten people, and there were less than a hundred kids enrolled total, so it was a VERY small world—everyone knew who was dating who, and if you told someone a secret, by lunchtime everyone would know. It was like going to school in a very expensive fishbowl filled with piranhas . . ..

4) Are you a fashion fan like Madison?
I have been known to wear stilettos to bed, and would probably take out the trash in a ball gown and tiara if given half a chance, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m more than a little obsessed with fashion! I don’t really believe in dressing down unless I’m on my way to the gym. My students always try and figure out how many pairs of shoes I own, but I’ll never tell . . .

5) Do you have a favorite place to write?
I either write at my kitchen table, or at a café just down the street from my house. If I’m feeling REALLY lazy, sometimes I’ll write propped up in bed on a pile of pillows. I try not to do it too much because, more often than not, I end up falling asleep!

6) What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is that moment when the scene begins to come alive and catches fire, then practically starts writing itself. It’s moments like this where I really feel like someone else is controlling things, and I’m just the vessel for the story. My least favorite thing about writing is when I find myself blocked, when I sit for hour staring at a blank, white screen with nothing to say. Of course, the best cure for this is just to actually start writing, to write anything, no matter how boring or insipid. But sometimes it’s just really hard for me to get started—especially when I’m on a deadline—I’m quite the excellent procrastinator when I put my mind to it . . .

7) Do you like listening to music while you write? (if yes, could we please have a little peek at your playlist?)
I HAVE to listen to music while I write—preferably the same playlist over and over until it just fades into the background and becomes like wallpaper in the narrative. And because you asked, I’ll share my most recent playlist with you! So, here’s what I’ve been listening to while finishing the third book in THE ELITE series, JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH:

That’s Not My Name: The Ting Ting’s
Mercy: Duffy
The Song That We Sing: Charlotte Gainsbourg
What Will Give: The Radio Department
Starlet Johannson: The Teenagers
Sour Cherry: The Kills
My Sister: Juliana Hatfield
Run: Air
Incredible: Madonna
It’s Never Over: Kate Walsh
One Time Too Many: Phoenix
A&E: Goldfrapp
2 Hookers and a Mexican: Mickey Avalon
Age of Consent: New Order
Thirteen: Elliot Smith
Nolita Fairytale: Vanessa Carlton
Don’t Bother Me: The Blakes
Phantom: Justice
Jealous Girls: The Gossip
Face To Face: Daft Punk
Chocolate, Raspberry, Lemon & Lime: Muscles
Crushed: Cocteau Twins
Sleep: Azure Ray

8) What city would you most like to visit?
Paris is my favorite city of all time. I try to spend as many summers there as I can. It’s my dream to be able to live there for at least a year at a time. Maybe someday . . .

9) Can you give us a little blurb about the second book in The Elite series: In too Deep?
The Bramford's newest resident and small-town transplant Casey McCloy is adapting to life in the Big Apple and loving it. She's finally got the look, the attitude, and a delish new boyfriend, Drew Van Allen. But even with everything she has going for her now, she's starting to have second thoughts as to whether the "New York" Casey is the real Casey. And she's not so sure she likes herself much anymore.

She’s not the only one…

Madison Macallister has always had her Manolo Blahniks firmly planted on the top rung of the social ladder—until that corn-fed cow Casey stole Drew away from her and made her look the fool. So what if Madison wasn’t exactly dating Drew at the time? She wanted him. And everyone knows that Madison gets what she wants, like Drew—and a little revenge…

10) How many books will be in The Elite series?
I’m currently contracted to write three, but if you guys like the series and want more, I’d be happy to continue! I really love writing THE ELITE books and would be thrilled if the series continued.

11) Are you working on any other YA novels?
I am currently hard at work on my next Young Adult series, BITTEN, which is about two identical twin sisters whose parents buy Dracula’s castle in the midst of a mid-life crisis, then promptly relocate the family from Manhattan all the way to Romania! Here’s a little blurb to wet your appetite:

Love is definitely a pain in the neck . . .

Mina Vanderbilt has just moved with her family to a dilapidated, musty, stone castle in Romania that once belonged to Dracula himself. Her parents, successful Manhattan real estate moguls, are clearly in the throes of a major midlife crisis, and, as a result, have decided to “rearrange their priorities” by selling the Vanderbilt’s fabulous penthouse apartment, and moving Mina and her identical twin sister Lucy to Eastern Europe after bidding an astounding $137.5 million dollars at ultra-exclusive auction at Sothebys. But before both girls begin attendance at a posh boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland, they’ll spend the summer at their new home sweet home—a castle situated in the heart of Romania, just off of Highway 73—better known as the intersection of creepy and get-me-the-hell-out-of-here—worlds away from their sophisticated Manhattan lifestyle where they’re used to getting whatever they want, whenever they want. With Prada bags slug firmly over their shoulders, they’ll learn to navigate the endless corridors and wings of the drafty pile of bricks (OK, their mother, Amanda, began a massive redecorating and demolition project immediately on their arrival, but come ON—there are SKULLS in the cellar for God’s sake!) which may or not be haunted by the spirit of a certain cape-wearing, blood-sucking legend . . .

Upon their arrival, Mina quickly falls in with Jonathan Marlowe—the town’s resident hottie, who’s left London to visit his grandfather for the summer and spends his days attempting to pen the next great British novel at the towns lone café. But after Lucy suffers a “bite” from a mysterious apparition one evening while trolling the grounds of the castle, her love life will never be the same again. Expressions like “can I have a bite of that?” take on a WHOLE new meaning, and suddenly, the most notorious identical, inseparable twins in all of Manhattan have never been quite so different . . .

12) I believe you are one of the co founders of Impetus Press—could you tell us a little bit about that? What inspired you to found your own publishing house? What kind of books does Impetus Press publish?
In 2005 I co-founded Impetus Press, a small, independent publishing house that takes pop culture as its muse. Basically, Impetus publishes serious literary fiction with a pop or urban edge, that falls in-between the experimental and the commercial. There are so many writers out there whose work is too commercial for the experimental presses, and too experimental for the mainstream. Publishing in general is getting so completely polarized, that the result is that many amazing authors are getting left by the wayside, simply because their work can’t be neatly pigeonholed. These are the writers that Impetus looks for and champions. We’ve published five titles so far, and hope to do at least two titles a year from now on. In the fall, we’re publishing Nick Antosca’s novel MIDNIGHT PICNIC, and in the spring we’ll release Gina Frangello’s second novel LONDON CALLING, and a collection of very nasty little short stories by Paula Bomer entitled BABY.

13) Any advice to aspiring authors?
Try to write every day—even if you end up deleting most of it. Writing is largely about discipline, and if you cultivate a disciplined work ethic, it can help power you through times you may feel hopelessly blocked.

14) Do you have any favorite YA books?
When I was growing up I was kind of obsessed with the SWEET VALLEY HIGH series—it was a guilty pleasure back then for me, and I still try and collect paperbacks with the original covers if I find them at garage sales or thrift stores . . . I was a fan of GOSSIP GIRL when the series first came out because I really appreciated how the writing broke new ground. The thing I dislike about many YA titles is that I feel they often talk down to or pander to young adults way too much. I despised that kind of thing when I was a kid, and I despise it even more now that I write YA myself. YA titles I particularly admire are Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, RA Nelson’s TEACH ME, and BREATHE MY NAME, Barry Lyga’s BOY TOY, and Ned Vizzini’s IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY.

15) A random fact that not many people know about you?
That I love reality TV. I’m so sad that Rock of Love is over that I can barely
accessorize. Where’s Daisy? I’m not sure I can live without watching her train wreck of a life on a weekly basis . . . I’m also a sucker for historical dramas—I’m currently obsessed with THE TUDORS now, as a result. It’s like Henry VIII got filtered through Melrose Place, and I’m loving every bloody beheading and bodice-ripping moment of it.


Axa said...

The Bitten Series sounds great. Loved the interview!

Chelsie said...

I really really want to read The Elite! It looks so good...

Tasha said...

Great interview. I absolutely loved THE ELITE and can't wait to read more. Jennifer's next series sounds great too!!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Love the playlist!

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