Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement and the upcoming The Space Between, took a moment out of her busy schedule to answer our questions!
Quick facts about Brenna from her website:
“I’m good at soccer, violent video games, and making very flaky pie pastry. I’m bad at dancing, making decisions, and inspiring confidence as an authority figure. I suspect this is because I am short, and also terrible at sounding as though I have any idea what I’m talking about. I was homeschooled until I was fifteen, which has probably affected my world view in ways I can’t fathom. Also, I really, really like parentheses. (Really.)”
1) If you had walk-on music (a song that plays when you enter a room), what would it be? Why?
I think I’d pick “The Horrible People” by Marilyn Manson, partly because I enjoy the weirdness and the messiness of it, but mostly because I’m very short and harmless-looking, and it would just be funny.
2) Your first novel, the New York Times Bestseller The Replacement, was published in 2010. What were some of the challenges and joys
of writing from a boy perspective?
This was an interesting issue for me, because at first I really worried about capturing Mackie’s voice—if I’d even be able to pull off an authentic boy’s voice.
After awhile though, I realized that I was kind of asking the wrong questions, and that I had to stop worrying so much about sounding like a boy, and just start paying attention to what Mackie sounded like as an individual.
3) Your second novel, The Space Between, touches down this November 14th. The premise is intriguing and the cover is gorgeous. What inspired the story?
The idea behind The Space Between was one that took several years to really evolve. I’d had a World Religions course in college that had really gotten me thinking about various conceptions of the underworld and how we view the dichotomy of good and evil. I knew that I wanted to write something that played around with those ideas, without necessarily trying to reach one overarching answer. Basically, I wanted Daphne’s struggle with good and evil to be a big story that just happened to have a very personal outcome.
4) What draws you to the Fantasy genre?
One of my favorite things about writing YA fantasy is that it gives you the space to talk about the triumphs and pitfalls of adolescence in a really universal way. Fantasy elements make such effective metaphors for the things we deal with every day, but they can also elevate the everyday and make it seem remarkable and gripping. I love that fantasy is just an essentially true story with the volume turned way up and where the people can do magical things.
5) Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?
I’m currently working on a new book, tentatively titled Paper Valentine. It’s a serial killer story, but it’s also very much about friendship. I can’t say a whole lot yet, since I’m still writing it, but I can tell you that it has a ghost, a summer of hundred-degree days, and kissing.
6) Many know about The Merry Sisters of Fate, which consists of you and your critique partners (Maggie Stiefvater and Tessa Gratton). How do both the blog and your partners contribute to your writing?
Merry Fates has been really instrumental for me, both in terms of having a regular assignment to complete, which keeps me moving, and of developing my voice and my storytelling skills. It’s just really great to work with people who know your style, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, and who will always hold you accountable and expect your best work.
7) Are there a couple books you’ve read recently that you would recommend?
Oh, I love this question! I would definitely recommend Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma, and Arlaina Tibensky’s And Then Things Fall Apart. Also, I just started Every You, Every Me by David Levithan and so I don’t know if I’m allowed to count that one because I haven’t finished it, but so far, I’m absolutely crazy about it.
8 ) Lets pretend Stephen Hawking invented a way to make a day twice as long. Now everyone has time for a second career. What would yours be? Pastry chef?
While I am a huge fan of baking, I think if I had my choice of a second career, I‘d want to be a fashion designer! I really enjoy couture sewing and would have a lot of fun inventing styles and coming up with new outfits.
9) You earned an MFA from Colorado State University. For any writers considering an MFA, what would you list as advantages or disadvantages you’ve experienced?
I’d say that for me, one of the best things about the MFA program was that it taught me a whole lot about working to deadline, and working until a story is finished. Not to mention, how to be a really cutthroat reviser.
10) What drives you to write for teens? Would you consider writing for adults in the future?
Hypothetically speaking, I’d absolutely be open to writing for adults. Someday. If I ever got an idea that seemed to fit best with an adult audience. Realistically speaking, I just love YA so much, and I have a really hard time thinking up premises for stories that don’t involve YA characters.
I think one of my favorite things about writing YA is that it gives me the opportunity to look at how much change a person goes through in a relatively short period as a teenager. I’m just really interested in people who are in the process of figuring themselves out.
11) Thank you for your time! Do you have any upcoming tours planned or general news you would like to share?
While I don’t have any official dates yet, I can say that I get to attend AASL over Halloween weekend this year, and I’ll be at the Colorado Teen Literature Conference this coming March so if you’re around, you should definitely come see me! Also, I try to be good about keeping things current on my website and my blog, so be sure to check back.
Where to find Brenna:
REMEMBER! The Space Between comes out November 14th!