08 June 2009

Author Monday:: Interview with YA author Veronica Goldbach (Part Three)

This entry marks the 3rd installment of my Author Mondays, where I shall endeavor to post something author-esque each Monday. Whether it's an interview or a one-shot question, here is a chance for various authors to have their say.

On Friday, May 22nd, Veronica Goldbach and I shared some happy drinks and melded our high school history with our new friendship as author/librarian.

This is part three of our 30-minute interview. Check out part one and part two here.

Et voila, part trois!


TBiblio: I got three questions from the “audience.” One came from my co-worker at the library, Sylvia. She was wondering what your social label was in high school. What were you in high school? The jock? The geek?

VG: That’s pretty easy. I was the geek. I was a band geek. [*laughter*] Pretty much a band geek/multilingual nerd. You were one too.

TBiblio: I was. Oh my god, yes I was. Did you feel like the high school that you went to, which is the high school that I went to, really thrived on those kinds of social labels they way they do in movies?

VG: Actually, I think movies, of course, dramatize it. They make it more extreme. Band geeks, we sort of had an inferiority complex. We’d see the cheerleaders and the jocks, and yeah, they’re in their own separate world, but it wasn’t like anyone was stuffing us into lockers. Tuba cases. We’d get our own people. No, I didn’t think it was… Did you?

TBiblio: No.

VG: I didn’t think it was that… There were the popular kids and then… I don’t…

TBiblio: To me, there was no… In those books, where they say “the hottest guy in school,” “the hottest girl in school,” there was none [at our high school].

VG: Yeah, there really wasn’t.

TBiblio: It just depended on your taste. There were cute girls and cute boys.

VG: Something for everybody. [*laughter*]

TBiblio: Exactly.

VG: But it wasn’t, “Oh, the band. We don’t talk to the band.” Everybody mixed.

TBiblio: Exactly. This question comes from a teen who is actually a very good artist. Her name is Marci with an “i.” If you were an inanimate object--

VG: Oh dear.

TBiblio: --what would you be?

VG: Gosh. Thanks Marci! [*laughter*] What would I be? I can’t think of anything really clever at the moment. If you asked me what animal, that would be easier.

TBiblio: Okay, well, what animal would you be?

VG: I’d be a dog [*laughter*]. One of my dogs. Lay around, get up, run around if you want to, have someone bring you food, [*laughter*] run around some more, eat the couch, eat some shoes. It’d be great. I guess for an inanimate object, maybe I’d be a pillow. Right now I’m feeling very tired. I’d be there to comfort people when they need it.

TBiblio: That’s good. Thank you, Veronica. That’s a really hard question.

VG: It is, Marci. [*laughter*]

TBiblio: Thank you, Marci! Jean Canosa Albano from Springfield, Massachusetts was wondering about the dichotomy of being a team player in a band but also the solitary process of writing a book. Have you found it hard to balance the band-y nature of your life versus the write-a-book nature of your life?

VG: Yes. Basically when I was writing the book, and kinda now too, I don’t really have a life. I spend my nights writing. I work as a teacher all day and then I come home and write. It doesn’t leave a lot for being very social. My team-playerness—I didn’t tell anyone I was writing the book, except the people I was living with because you kind of have to. I told my mom and my brothers. My brothers didn’t really care. [*laughter*] I just told them and nobody else. Because it was kind of, almost embarrassing ‘cause everyone’s going to write a book. So it went against sort of my grain ‘cause I’m not a big secret keeper. I’m shy but I’m not a quiet person. When I’m around people, I’m really shy and quiet, but once you get to know me, it’s TA-TA-TA-TA-TA. [*laughter*] And I tell you everything. I’m not big into keeping secrets. I just don’t think before I talk. I just say whatever. So that was really out of character for me, not to tell anyone I was writing a book. But that’s how tender it was for me. I’m not a writer-type person. I didn’t see myself as a writer and I thought people would get me down. Maybe that’s some good advice for future writers. Maybe you don’t want to tell everyone you’re writing a book. People will just brush you off or discourage you or crush your dreams. [*laughter*] No, my mom didn’t, but other people might.

TBiblio: Do you feel more validated now that you’ve been published? That’s hard to do, especially before you’re 30. Some people find that very… very… nice.

VG: Yes. The day I got the email saying I was going to get the contract, I was just on cloud nine. I said [to myself], “I’m never going to be unhappy again. If I ever feel bad, I’ll just remember that I’m gonna get published and it’ll be all good.” That worked for a couple of months. [*laughter*] Yeah. It’s nice. It makes a big difference to other people. Now that I say, “Oh yes, I’m getting published,” and people are like, “Oh!” Whereas if I just say, “I’m writing a book…” Whatever. I found that I have a lot more friends now that the book has come out. [*laughter*] They’re coming out of the woodwork. And it’s not even a big book, it’s just a little book. A lot of people haven’t heard of it. People are calling me and emailing me and I’m just like, “Oh, where were you when I was writing the book?”

TBiblio: Future projects? Are you working on something right now?

VG: I’m working on a lot of somethings. I have a book with my agent that is sort of my scary book, my ghost story. I don’t know how much I can say. I’m working on sort of a ghost story. It’s a trilogy, also set in San Antonio but not set in a public school. This was when I was really down about not getting Deep in the Heart of High School published. It wasn’t called that then. It had been rejected by everybody, so I said, “You know what? I’m going to write a different book. Maybe I was wrong to set it in an inner city school.” So this is set at a private school but not at a rich private school. [It’s a] falling-apart private school. And it’s set in middle school so it’s a little bit [for a] younger [audience] and a little bit more romantic. We’ll see. My agent has it right now and nothing’s really happening with it. But it got me an agent. Actually, I think getting published got me an agent. I got published without an agent, which is really are. He’s working with that. I wrote another story for younger kids that I sent to him and I didn’t hear back from him about it so I don’t think he liked that one. I’m working on one set in LA about a girl who moved from San Antonio to Los Angeles. Then I’m working on another one with my sister, a sort of post-apocalyptic one. So I’m working on a bunch of stuff at once.

TBiblio: Cool.

VG: And that’s kind of weird for me ‘cause I need to just focus on one thing and then do one thing. So basically, if I had to really explain it, the ghost story is kind of sort of done. I’m waiting for revision notes on it. The kid story is kind of forgotten, ‘cause I think it’s dead. My kids at school liked it, I read it to them. The LA story is in its first draft. It’s sitting. The post-apocalyptic one, I’m in the process of writing it right now. So when that one’s finished, I’ll go back to the LA one. I’ll work on some rewrites and maybe send it to my agent and see.

TBiblio: What was the original title for Deep in the Heart of High School?

VG: The original title was Fitting in the Glass Slipper. When I was writing it, I wanted to combine my favorite things. I really like teen romantic comedies—I just, I love them—and I like fairy tales. So I thought I’d combine them, set it in San Antonio, have the girls’ lives take on fairy tale aspects. It was this whole cool thing with this old book from the library. It was great. But my publisher thought maybe not so great. So we took all the fairy tales out. But if you read Deep in the Heart of High School carefully, you can still see a little bit of Cinderella in Olivia’s story, a little bit of Little Red Riding Hood in Vanna’s, a little bit of Rumpelstiltskin in Fatima’s story. You have to look really, really carefully. A lot of the stuff got taken out, but there’s still little hints of it in there.

TBiblio: So this is the question that I ask all the authors that I come across who will speak to me. I call it my cookie question. If you could bake homemade cookies for up to three fictional characters, who would they be for and what would you make for them?

VG: Hmm. Well. Baking cookies. First, I would bake something really sugary and fattening and not good for you for Emmy from Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat [by Lynne Jonell and Jonathan Bean]. Poor Emmy, Miss Barmy and those awful health food things she would give her. For Ron, my favorite Harry Potter character, ‘cause he’s so cool… What would I bake him? I’d bake him cupcakes with frosting.

TBiblio: Yeah, I see that. Definitely.

VG: That’s a cool question. I’m a baker. Not a cook but a baker. I don’t know, I’ll just have to leave it at those two for now.

TBiblio: Good! Those are good answers. There are no bad answers to this question. That’s what I love about this question. Everyone has something different and so clever to bring to the table. Last question—any book signings coming up?

VG: Why, yes there is! (*laughter*) I’m having one at the San Antonio Public Library, the Central Branch in the teen section on August 22. I’m having a Writer’s Workshop at 12 and then a party, which I’m looking forward to, at two. So that should be pretty cool.

TBiblio: Well, we wish you the absolute best of luck, Veronica Goldbach. You’ve been so wonderful and accommodating and charming and I’m really, really, really happy that we’ve kind of struck up the friendship again.

VG: Yeah. You’ve been so nice to me, too. VG connection!

TBiblio: VG connection! That’s right! [*laughter*] Oh we have stories. But those will go for another time. Alright, well thank you for listening! Take care! Bye!


If you want to check on my amazing transcribing job, or if you want to hear two girls giggling, feel free to listen to the actual audio file of the entire chat.

So what is the VG connection, you ask? Veronica and I have the same initials, we were born three days apart so we have the same astrological sign, we sat next to each other during graduation, and people mistook us for sisters for a long time. We called it the VG connection for some time, although as I've said before, Veronica is now stunning and I'm cute.

Anyway, thanks for "tuning in." I'd say more but my cat is currently demanding love.

Gracias again to Veronica for her generosity and time!