GETTIN’ LUCKY: An interview with Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES

For months, I’ve been dying waiting very patiently to introduce you to the talented Jennifer Salvato Doktorski…and now it’s finally time.  HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES releases TODAY! HOORAY!
Besides having one of the best titles I’ve ever seen, this book is full of snark, wit, tender moments and a whole lot of fun. It’s exactly what a contemporary YA read should be!

flames Here’s the Goodreads blurb to whet your appetite: Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make   amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new.

 Eeek!! Told ya. Okay, let’s get to know this amazing author a little better…

A cliché first question, but considering the title of this book, I have to ask: What was your motivation in writing this story?

I wanted to write a fun, fast-paced, and hopefully funny book about a girl traveling cross country with three guys. For me, the story began with the phrase, “girl on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order.” I knew that had to be in the opening sentence somewhere. From there, I started to think of “Why?!” What type of girl would find herself in that predicament? I found Rosie’s voice in that opening sentence and the rest just flowed from there.

Thanks to a week long road trip from New Jersey to Arizona, the landscape of this book is ever-changing. Is this a trip you’ve taken yourself?  

Yes!  I took this trip when I was in my 20s with a friend of a friend named Kenny. I didn’t know his last name until about week before we left, but he was willing to travel west with me and fly home. He timed the trip with a west coast business meeting. I was at the proverbial crossroads in my life and going to live with my good friend from college while I applied for jobs, did some freelance writing, and decided if Arizona was someplace I’d like to stay for a while. It’s a gorgeous state and I loved my time there, but in the end, I decided to return to New Jersey.

Besides the temporary restraining order slapped on her at the beginning of the book, Rosie has a potential STALKING charge hanging over her head, too. If fictional characters could talk, who would file stalking charges against you?

Ha!! Great question! Well, I don’t think I’m anything like Rosie in that respect, but hmm… let’s see. Is there some fictional character out there that I could picture myself losing my heart and mind over? I really had to think about this one, but I’ve got two for you. One from literature and one from the small screen. Aragorn from LORD OF THE RINGS and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But somehow, I think both of them could handle a woman scorned without getting the police involved.

Rosie is a combination of New Jersey tough and Latino fire. What was it like creating such a lively character? Did you have any “real life” influences who played a part in her makeup?

Well, I come from an Italian-American family and there are no shortage quick-tempered personalities to draw from. Like a lot of characters, Rosie is bits and pieces of people I may have known or met, but as the disclaimer at the front of the book states, she is totally fictional!! 🙂

Music plays a subtle, though poignant, role in this book. (*nods to Metallica references*) If HOW MY SUMMER… became a movie, what songs would you like to see on the soundtrack?

This book actually has a playlist that the cool marketing folks at Simon Pulse posted on Grooveshark for me. Some of the songs on it are “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” (Brandon Flowers), “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” (Pink) and “Rosalita” (Bruce Springsteen). Rosie is named for the Bruce song. I also listened to my share of Taylor Swift while I was writing this book, and she’s represented too. Oh, and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers who I discovered during my time in Arizona.

You can find the playlist here.

Your second book, Famous Last Words (Christy Ottaviano Books–A division of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers) will be released July 2, 2013. How is that leading lady, Samantha, different from Rosie? How are they the same?

Well, compared to Rosie, Samantha is a bit of a wallflower. She’s shy and has trouble finding her voice and place in life. In fact, Sam would probably benefit from a friend like Rosie and vice-versa, I suppose. They would balance each other out. They’ve got a lot in common too. They both spend the summer before their senior year in high school discovering who they are. They’re both from the same fictitious town in northern New Jersey, have an Italian-American backgrounds, and great relationships with their parents.

As 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’m sure most writers say it’s hard to pick just three, but here are mine.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

A Wrinkle in Time

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit (Interviewer side note: I read this answer and fell in love with you all over again!)

Thank you for the interview Bethany and for giving me the opportunity to talk about my books! This was a lot of fun.

OUR PLEASURE! All the OneFours wish you great success with this wonderful book!



In addition tJennifer Salvato Doktorskio writing for teens, Jennifer is a freelance writer who has written articles and essays for national publications including, Cosmopolitan. She always wanted to be a writer even though she often referred to her college major in English as “PreLaw” because it held the promise that she might actually find work someday. HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES, will be published by Simon Pulse in May 2013, while Jennifer’s second novel, FAMOUS LAST WORDS, about a teen obit writer, will be published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in July 2013.


Bethany Crandell and her husband Terry live in San Diego with their two daughters and a chocolate Labrador who has no consideration for personal space. She writes Young Adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s ‘first’ times are too good not to relive again and again. SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS is coming spring 2014 from Running Press.

6 thoughts on “GETTIN’ LUCKY: An interview with Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES

  1. As Bethany knows, I’m a bit of a contemporary whore (meaning, I like to READ YA contemporary–get your mind out of the gutter! ;), and this book sounds AMAZING! I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out!!

    Fabulous interview, ladies!! 🙂

  2. Restraining orders, stalking, road trips, Springsteen… I’m already in love with this one! Sounds like a lot of fun- can’t wait to pick it up!

    Congrats, Jennifer! And great interview, Bethany!

  3. Rosie sounds AWESOME! My fave answer: “Rosie is bits and pieces of people I may have known or met”. That’s so true of all writers and their characters I think. Even though of us who write about magical creatures try to inject some human qualities to make them more relatable. Great interview, ladies!

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