Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interview with Jennifer Comeaux

Earlier this week I introduced author, Jennifer Comeaux, and her debut novel, Life on the Edge on The Edible Bookshelf. I'll have an excerpt up for you tomorrow, but today I have the privilege of sharing my interview with Jennifer. I would like to thank Jennifer for taking the time to answer my questions and share more about her writing and her life. Keep reading to find out what inspired the story of Emily and Sergei, and what might be coming up for them in the future.

1.      What was the inspiration for Life on the Edge?

 I’ve always been a huge fan of figure skating, and I liked to imagine a fictional pair skating programs I created in my head. Those imaginary programs grew into a story idea for a romance between a pairs skater and her coach. At first, I was just writing the story for my friends as a serial, but after about a year, I decided to try to work it into a publishable book. That’s how Life on the Edge was born!

2.      Life on the Edge is set pre-9/11. Did you start writing the book prior to 9/11, or did you choose that time period because you wanted to use the events of that day? 

I first came up with the idea for the story around 2004, and I always had the 2002 Olympics in my mind as the big event in the book. Also, the 2001 National Championships were in Boston, my heroine Emily’s hometown, so I wanted to use that in the story, too.

3.      Emily is young and naive in some ways, yet also has to deal with some very adult complications. How did you balance these two sides of her? 

I wanted to show Emily’s innocence and naiveté in the beginning and how she matured over the course of the two years covered in the book. The issues she faced forced her to grow up a lot, and I hope readers will see her growth throughout the story.

4.      Saying Sergei's past is complicated might be putting it lightly, but part of his past is that he is a Russian immigrant. How much research did you have to do to make his back story realistic? (Which you did very well!)

Thanks! I’m discovering that I have to do a lot more research for the sequel than I did for Life on the Edge because I’m delving deeper into Sergei’s past in the second book. I’m learning lots of fascinating things about Russia and its culture!

5.      Opposition comes not only in Emily's professional life, but from her family as well. How did you decide just how much resistance Emily's family was going to provide?

When I created the character of Emily’s mother, I envisioned her as overprotective and a born worrier, so with her having those traits, it made sense that she wouldn’t accept Emily and Sergei’s relationship. Her strong personality made her dialogue a lot of fun to write!

6.      Your account of the rules, language, and politics of competitive ice skating shows your familiarity with the sport. Can you tell us more about your personal involvement in skating? 

I’ve been a fan of figure skating since I was a little girl. I always watched every competition and show that came on TV, and I thought it would be so fun to attend a competition. In 2001 I attended my first national championship, and I was hooked! Being at the event was so much more exhilarating than watching on TV. Over the years of attending competitions, I’ve learned more about the behind-the-scenes world, and it only increased my fascination with the sport. I think figure skating is the perfect combination of sport and art–it’s so beautiful yet so physically demanding.

7.      The question came up during workshopping Life on the Edge of whether it should be considered a Young Adult or Adult book. How do you classify your book?

I think of it as New Adult since Emily is in her late teens and early twenties during the story, and she has to deal with a lot of adult issues. I’ve received great feedback from both teens and adults, so it’s been very exciting to have all ages enjoying the book.

8.      Do you have any interesting rituals or quirks when writing? 

I like to hand write in a journal. I find I’m more focused when I hand write instead of type on the computer because of all the distractions the computer can bring. My attention span is miniscule, so I’m easily distracted!

9.      Who are your favorite authors?

Right now I’m enjoying Rachel Hawthorne and Stephanie Perkins

10.  Can you tell us more about your upcoming book Edge of the Past? 

As I mentioned earlier, this book will explore more of Sergei’s past as Emily and Sergei travel to Russia for a competition. It’s still in the early stages, but I’m excited to tell more of their story!

Thanks again to Jennifer for telling us more about Life on the Edge (available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Astraea Press). Come back tomorrow to read an excerpt from Life on the Edge!