Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rivals Blog Tour: My Interview With Doug Solter

This week I'm doing a bit of an early interview (though there will likely be another interview Friday). I was invited by Kate Tilton to be a part of Doug Solter's "Rivals" blog tour. I, of course, jumped at the chance to join in on the fun. I love helping other writers get the word out on their books, and it's like throwing my own little party for them on my blog. If you've missed the rest of the tour you can catch up here. Be sure to read to the end, because there is a giveaway to enter!

Doug Solter
Doug began writing screenplays in 1998 and became a 2001 semi-finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. His script Father Figure was one of 129 scripts left from 5,489 entries. Doug made the switch to writing young adult novels in 2008. Skid, a young adult novel set in the world of Formula One, is his first. Doug is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Doug respects cats, loves the mountains, and one time walked the streets of Barcelona with a smile on his face.

1. Why YA?

I sometimes ask myself this question. Why do I like writing stories about teenagers? Shouldn't I be writing about issues that adults face? Isn’t that a more “serious” subject? Well, I’m not so much interested in such teen problems as...who do I take to the prom? Or why is that girl staring at me in biology? What I do enjoy is looking at human issues through a teen’s point of view. How they see the world. Their hopes and dreams. Their fears and concerns. Their view of the world. I know what adults think about and quite frankly, it’s not that interesting because I'm already living through that. But I enjoy writing stories about extra-ordinary teen characters who lead fascinating lives. Living through their eyes is like a fountain of youth. You get to see the old world in a new way.

2. The best part about being a writer is... 

Receiving an email from a reader saying that they love what you wrote.

3. If you weren't a writer what dream job would you want to do?

I would be a film director. If my college had a film school, I would have gone that route. Maybe a movie producer as a second choice. I so love movies!

4. How does your experience writing screenplays help you now?

Screenwriting helped me refine my dialogue, to make it sharp and to the point with subtext built in. It's taught me to write visually, to show what's happening and not to rely solely on narration to tell the story. It's also helped me economize my writing by saying more with less words, which to me is ideal for the young adult genre. Good story structure that makes me think of my novels in terms of three acts and a strong midpoint in the second act. Screenwriting also gave me the courage to tackle writing full novels, something I thought I could never do when I started writing.

5. What is the inspiration for “Rivals” and of course “Skid”?

A big inspiration was the 1966 movie Grand Prix starring James Garner. I've always loved Formula 1 racing and wanted to write my own story set in that glamorous world. But almost every racing story made involved a young man in the driver's seat. I thought it would be more interesting to put a woman there. That's where the screenplay Season of Speed came from. When I decided to adapt that screenplay into the novel Skid, I changed the young woman to a teenage girl because I wanted it to be a young adult novel. Rivals was born out of wanting to continue Samantha's story because I loved that world and wanted to jump back into it. And readers told me they wanted to read more about Samantha's racing adventures.

6. What's special about your work?

In terms of young adult literature, I think my approach to writing YA is a little different. I tend to write larger-than-life stories. They're filled with more escapism than realism. I'm not so much about featuring contemporary issues that teens face, although some of those issues do rise to the surface during the course of my novels sometimes. But there's not a conscious effort to write a novel about those issues. I see my job as providing a teen reader with entertainment, not to preach to them.

7. What is your ultimate goal in life?

My ultimate goal is to earn enough money to make a living as a professional fiction writer. Thanks to the birth of eBooks that now can be a reality. Quitting the day job and do nothing but write would be heaven on earth to me. I would be quite a happy camper.

Excerpt from Rivals by Doug Solter. Copyright 2014
All rights reserved.

Melbourne, Australia
Six days later

It’s Sunday. First race day of the season. The one day of the racing week where everything I've done before means absolutely nothing if I don’t perform. The one day I’m alone. No more appearances. No more team press conferences. No more race events that I have to pretend to enjoy. No more fans wanting this perfect version of Samantha Sutton that I could never be but inside their heads. It’s now my day to be selfish. To do what I want to do.
In my hotel room, I munch on some cheese curls and a banana for breakfast. Nothing heavy, only enough to get me to lunch. But I drink a ton of water because staying hydrated is so important for the race, and it’s smart to start early.
Next I take out the framed picture of me and my dad, the one I always carry when I’m on the road. It was taken years ago when I first started racing karts. I was so shy then. Seriously. Look at that twelve-year-old girl. The way her smile and shoulders droop. The way she sticks her skinny arms close to her body. Even in a tough-looking racing suit she was so unsure of herself and needed a great dad to boost her confidence. Dad has his arm around me, and the pride on his face is priceless. I miss those bushy eyebrows and that large chin.
I like looking at this picture before every race. I want to remind myself who I owe this incredible gift to. And it is a gift. I’m not talking about racing cars. I’m talking about Dad’s gift of confidence in myself. I would never, ever be doing this if Dad didn't believe in his shy daughter.
The next thing I do as part of my race-day ritual is paint my nails. I grab the silver nail polish and start on my toes first. I know. I’m weird. But ever since I started racing, I would always paint my nails the same color as my race car. So far it’s been a good luck charm.
An hour later, I drive to the Albert Park racing circuit with Paige. I step into the garage and talk with Scott and Maurice about the car.
Manny joins us. He smiles and I melt.
He assures me that his new transmission checks out fine. But all I can think about is that garden in Jerez. I just realized I haven’t talked to Manny at all this week. It’s not like I avoided him. But I needed one of those I’m-pissed-off-now-so-leave-me-alone moments after he told me about Hanna.
I’m still not cool with him talking to his ex-girlfriend, but am I too paranoid? Manny would never do anything to hurt me. Not knowingly, anyway. When Hanna came to see him that night, Manny was kind to her because he’s a kind and gentle person who’s more compassionate than me.
couldn't see that at first. Hanna was his first girlfriend, so of course I felt threatened. Manny probably sees Hanna as someone he can help. That’s what so different about the boy. Being around Manny will make me a better person. And I want to be better. I want to be kinder and more compassionate. I would love those great things about Manny to rub off.
I hope he’s not mad at me for basically ignoring him this week.
Manny knows you’re a driver, Samantha. He knows what kind of schedule you have.
I know. I should stop worrying about it. Manny will always be there for me.
Do you want to be left alone now?” he asks.
Scott and Maurice talk about something else. Our little pre race conference is done. A part of me doesn't want Manny to leave. But I still need to do my warm-up exercises. And all the drivers will be gathering soon to take a lap around the circuit to see the fans. Then I have to eat lunch and begin to focus on the race.

Reluctantly, I nod.

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Skid (eBook Free to Download)

Rivals: Skid 2

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