On February 11, 2013 at the Glendale, CA Americana Barnes and Noble, 90 plus guest came to see Ally Carter, young adult author, who came to sign her new novel "Perfect Scoundrels." She started out the evening by answering fan questions, giving the first fan to ask a question the privilege to be first in the signing line. Her answers were a good combination of witty and serious.
Ally Carter first got her inspiration to write after reading the book "The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. Carter was a 16 year old Oklahoma farm girl. When she looked up information on S.E. Hinton, she was surprised to find that not only was Hinton alive, but also from Oklahoma just like her. She was so used to reading novels by authors like the Bronte sisters, that it was the first time when it clicked that writers were not just old dead people from Europe, but were living here and now.
Carter was asked where she gets her inspiration for her novels from. It comes from everywhere, she explained, and "you never know when inspiration is going to come." Sometimes from billboards, or a part of a TV show, or even from a part of a conversation you are having. Generally she will start with an idea and create a storyboard, adding thoughts and characters.
Carter told us to not worry about it being perfect the first time. Each author has different methods for writing. She doesn't rewrite as she goes, but fixes at the end. Generally taking three or four or more drafts to finish a book. Her motto to editing is "anything can go at anytime."
She was also asked about how to put chapters in a book. "A chapter's goal is to move the story forward." If a character or a plot doesn't go anywhere in a chapter than that chapter is not needed. She equated chapters to TV commercial breaks. The goal of a commercial is to get you to not change the channel, to hook you. It's best to break chapters in interesting spots; where something has happened, or something new has been introduced.
Ally Carter was very fun to listen to. It never stopped amazing the crowd when she talked about her other YA author friends. She did say however that she was disappointed that J.K. Rowling has never invited her to the castle. All joking aside she did emphasize throughout the night that writing is self taught. If you want to be a writer you just need to find what methods work best for you. Sometimes it will vary from book to book. Don't be discouraged if it takes you a long time to write one book. Everyone is different, and that makes every experience unique.
Ally Carter described her fellow YA authors as nice, smart, cool people. I think that’s also a description fit for her. Check out her new book "Perfect Scoundrels" in bookstore now. For the fans of the Gallagher Girls series be ready this fall for book six, the final book in the series.