GETTIN’ LUCKY: An interview with Caela Carter, author of ME, HIM, THEM AND IT

Today we’re interviewing Lucky  13 author, Caela Carter, whose book Me,Him,Them and It, is on the shelves NOW!!  Here’s a blurb to get you started:

mehimit_030Evelyn Jones doesn’t need a public shaming like on Teen Mom: she knows she’s a dumbass. The valedictorian hopeful is playing Bad Girl when she discovers she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, her deadbeat parents have turned their Jacksonville McMansion into a battle ground; her secret boyfriend Todd keeps barging into her heart; and her BFF Lizzie is fed up with her sarcasm and silences. Can a cheating father, a stiff-ass of a mother and a lesbian aunt with two girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow? Will Evelyn’s boneheaded mistake ruin her family completely, or force it back together? 

Can I gush for a moment?  I LOVED this book.  Caela has one of strongest teen voices I have read in awhile.  And she was also an awesome interview!  So let’s get on with it, shall we?

ME, HIM, THEM AND IT, tackles some serious issues with such authentic teen angst. Why were you inspired to write a novel about teen pregnancy?

Well, I kind of feel like I wrote a pregnancy book by accident! I had Evelyn’s voice in my head, so that’s where it started. And I always wanted to write about family. I sort of thought that the ultimate challenge to a crumbling family would be figuring out what to do with a whole new person joining the mix, so suddenly, BAM, Evelyn was pregnant.

It is a pregnancy book. I’ve come to terms with that, haha. But it didn’t start out that way.

Writing about sex is always controversial, but you handle it, again, with such authenticity and humor. Did you find it difficult to write about sex without blushing?

Oh, boy. I’m glad you asked this, though I’ll admit the question made me blush!

I didn’t really blush in the actual writing process. I wrote this book in an intensely private place, and I didn’t really think anyone would ever read it. And, you know, given the subject matter of course there had to be some more R-rated scenes in order to make the book genuine. I had fun thinking about how Evelyn, given her good-girl and studious nature, would approach sex. I loved the idea that she would “study-up” by watching movies and making a list of places before trying to seduce Todd. So writing it was pretty fun.

But I will say that I blush whenever I read those parts now because I picture everyone I know also reading them!

Evelyn’s voice is so genuine! At times I wanted to hug her and other times I wanted to shake her really hard and yell “What are you thinking?” How did you tap into Evelyn’s voice?

Her voice was really the inspiration for the novel and it wasn’t a conscience choice as much as I sort of felt like she was already talking to me in my brain. (Which happens a lot, so maybe I’m going crazy.) But I think the reason she started talking to me is because I’ve spent a lot of time with angry and repressed teenagers, and I always wanted more access to the way the were thinking, what they were feeling, and the keys to actually making them speak. So all of that certainly went into Evelyn. I was inside her brain so she gave me access to all of her thoughts, which was depressing and exhausting as well as invigorating and inspiring.

In general, I think the key to developing a genuine teenaged voice is to spend a lot of time with teenagers, and (here’s my dorky side showing) to read books about their psychology. Teenagers are basically adults with less impulse control. Their emotions are pretty much the same as ours, but their actions might be different,which makes them fun to write about.

There is a vibrant supporting cast in ME, HIM, THEM AND IT. Who was your favorite secondary character to write and why?

First of all, thank you! I definitely worked hard on my secondary characters aiming to make them feel as much like Real People as Evelyn. I honestly love them all (even Todd) but my favorite to write were definitely Tammy and Cecelia, Evelyn’s younger cousins. When I was drafting the first half of the book, I always knew they were coming and I was excited to see how Evelyn would act around kids who are, you know, outside of her own uterus, haha. As soon as I started writing those little cousins, I fell in love.

You’re stuck in an elevator with one of your characters. Who would it be and why?

In an elevator? I’d choose Aunt Linda. If the question was about spending a fun day with someone I’d choose one of the kids or teenagers, but in an elevator? I’m pretty sure they’d all drive me crazy.

You studied literature, philosophy, and creative writing at Notre Dame and earned a master’s in Education there as well. You also taught for six years! Does your background in education and teaching help shape your writing?

Yes, for sure! Being around teens is the best way to access their thoughts and actions and worlds. Also, I taught English and reading, so it was great research as to what teens love to read. And, perhaps most importanly, the world of any American between the age of 6 and 18 is largely made up of his or her life at school, so it was great ot have a background in schools in order to create that world.

What comes first for you – plot or character?

Character! I have a hard time with plot, usually, but I love creating characters.  Probably because I love people in general. 🙂

Do you have any specific writing rituals? Anything you need to have around or something that makes the process easier?

CANDY! (Sorta kidding, but I do consume way too much sugar while I’m writing.)

I usually have CNN or some news station on in the background when I write. It helps me to have background noise that I really want to ignore in order to focus on my writing, strangely.

Other than that, my rituals aren’t really daily. I try and write 1,000 words a day. Sometimes I do, sometimes I fail, and sometimes I write way more than that.

Do you ever reward yourself for finishing a first draft? What is your favorite way to indulge?

I actually just finished a rough draft yesterday and I’m totally planning a trip to the bookstore this afternoon as my reward! I’m all about little celebrations. The most consistent one I do is that when I reach 100 pages of any project, I jump up and down. I usually also call my husband, my mother and my friend Linda and they all jump for me too. Like I said, it’s the little celebrations.

What part of the publication process did you love? What was the most challenging part?

I always joke with my writerly-friends about how we’re constantly nostalgic for the part of the process we are not in. When I’m drafting, I’m usually pining away for revision.  When I’m revising, I’m yearning to put new words on paper. But, I love it all.

Except the waiting. The waiting is the hardest part.

Anything you want to share about your next project?

YES! I have a second book with Bloomsbury and it should hit shelves in about a year. I’m really excited about it. It’s totally different than this first one. It involves friends and ex-friends, ex-boyfriends and new-boyfriends and sexy, exotic Greek Islands.

Since this community is “All for One and OneFour KidLit,” we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid?

I read voraciously as a kid, almost without regard to whether I actually enjoyed the book I was reading, haha. But my biggest influence (and literary love) is definitely Cynthia Voigt. I read every book of hers that I could find in the Basking Ridge library but I particularly loved Come a Stranger, Izzy Willy-Nilly, David and Jonathan, and Tell Me If the Lovers are Losers. But I loved them all. And like everyone who grew up in my generation (and many other generations) I was also a huge fan of Judy Blume, particularly Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself and Just as Long as We’re Together. Ok, that was way more than two or three, but honestly, there are so many more I could probably write a book about it!

Thank you so much for hosting me! It was great to visit All for One and OneFour KidLit!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CaelaauthorphotoCaela Carter was raised in Basking Ridge, NJ and Baltimore, MD. She’s been writing since she learned how to pick up a pen but before the writing thing got serious she spent six years teaching English to middle and high school students in Jacksonville, FL and Chicago, IL.  When she’s not writing, Caela is a middle school librarian in Harlem, a Notre Dame football enthusiast, and a happy explorer in New York City.  ME, HIM, THEM AND IT is her first novel.

You can find Caela online at her website, Goodreads, and Twitter!

Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene. Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, will be released in 2014 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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