Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Getting to know author JENNY TORRES SANCHEZ

Months before I knew I'd be a Running Press kid, I started stalking following one of their authors on her journey toward publication. Besides being kind, charming, and the owner of super cute shoes (I've seen photographic evidence), Jenny Torres Sanchez is a heck of a writer! Her debut, THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE, is available TODAY! (May 22). Jenny's made the first chapter available for a sneak peek on her website. Check it out--and then get your sweet fingers over to Amazon.com to buy a copy!

So, without further adieu, I'd like to welcome to the RookieRiter hot seat, Ms. Jenny Torres Sanchez. *applause*

Jenny, before we jump into the nail-biters, why don't you tell us a little bit about CHARLIE.

JTS:   The Downside of Being Charlie is the story of a teenage boy named Charlie that has a lot going on during his senior year of high school. This is from the back flap:

Charlie is handed a crappy senior year.  Despite losing thirty pounds over the summer, he still gets called “Chunks” Grisner.  What’s worse, he has to share a locker with the biggest Lord of the Rings freak his school has ever seen.  He also can’t figure out whether Charlotte VanderKleaton, the beautiful strawberry lip-glossed new girl, likes him the way he likes her. 
Oh, and then there’s his mom.  She’s disappeared—again—and his dad won’t talk about it.

Somewhere between the madness, Charlie can at least find comfort in his one and only talent that just might get him out of this life-sucking place. But will he be able to hold his head above water in the meantime?

What is it about Charlie that will make readers root for him?
  JTS: I think readers will root for Charlie because they will be able to relate to him. They’ll be able to see some part of themselves in Charlie.  

What’s been your biggest reality check since becoming a published author?
  JTS: That The Downside of Being Charlie actually going to be out there…like actually out there.  I know that sounds funny, but publication is a pretty long process. Usually when your book sells, you have to wait anywhere between 1-3 years before it's actually on the shelves. So it seems like forever before you'll actually see it in book form and people will be able to buy and read it. And during that time you have this strange liberty of telling everyone that yes, your book sold and you will have an actual book in stores and why yes, I guess that makes you an author, but you don't have to deal with negative reviews yet, or the weird beast that is self-promotion, or the anxiety of others actually reading it and forming their own opinions about what you've written.  Then one day, reality hits you. It's going to be on the shelf.  You have to promote it.  People are going to read it. Some people are going to like it. Some people are not going to like it.  That's a bit panic inducing.  Definitely a reality check.

How do you handle writer’s block?
JTS: For me, writer’s block usually means that something is wrong in whatever I’m working on.  It may be that I’ve taken a wrong turn or gone down the wrong path and the reason I don’t know what to write next is because I’ve lost my way somehow.  When that happens, I go back to what I’ve written and try to figure out what went wrong.  Sometimes, it’s that I really loved an idea but it doesn’t make sense for my character and I kind of have to figure out what I can salvage and what I have to ditch (as painful as that is).  I’m pretty stubborn, so sometimes I try to force something to work, but then I concede and try to listen to my characters.  They’re like my tour guides through the story.  When I don’t listen to them, that’s when I get writer’s block.
Also, I try to stick to the advice about stopping when you know what you’re going to write next.  It makes coming back to the page each day easier. 

What is your perfect writing environment?
JTS: A quiet bookstore, before anybody else is there, in a little corner where I can tuck away and make up stories for a few hours as I sip an Americano. 

Any advice for aspiring writers?
JTS: Just write.  Yes, definitely become informed about the publishing process if you're pursuing publication. Yes, join writers groups and attend conferences and become friends with other writers online and such. But don't forget to write.  Writing, the actual writing, is the most important part of it all.

What are you reading right now? (for pleasure)
 JTS:  I just started reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. 

And just for fun, a few of my favorite James Lipton questions: 

What is your favorite word?
JTS: I like the word colloquial, pretty much because of the way it sounds and the way it feels when I say it and the way it looks.  
What is your least favorite word?
JTS: Phlegm bothers me.  Is the faux f and silent g really necessary in the same word? Also, it kind of grosses me out.

What sound or noise do you love?
JTS: The sound of water-trickling, crashing, falling, lapping, even dripping.
What sound or noise do you hate?
JTS: Anything that crashes.  It's very jarring and I don't do well with jarring noises. 
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
JTS: Professional photography
What profession would you not like to do?
JTS: I'm a wimp so pretty much anything that requires me to be outside for hours at a time.

Wow! Thanks for all your insight and fun answers, Jenny! I feel like I know you so much better now--which is important for any stalker fan. I wish you all the success in the world and am so grateful I get to be part of the Running Press family with someone as talented as yourself.