Wednesday, October 24, 2012

YAtopia Relaunch: Aimee & Jen

Today we're introducing two of our newest members, authors Aimee L. Salter and Jennifer Malone.
(But don't forget to click the link at the bottom - you could win autographed books, critiques and more!)

Aimee was born in Portland, Oregon, raised in Hokitika, New Zealand, and has subsequently made her home everywhere from Los Angeles to Ulan Baatar, Mongolia. She is represented by Brittany Howard of the Corvisiero Literary Agency, New York.

When she's not writing, Aimee spends most of her time wrangling her young son (and young-at-heart husband), critiquing for other authors, and making awkward comments on Twitter. Her blog focuses on practical tips for making your manuscript better, and can be found at You can find her Twitter musings at @AimeeLSalter.

Jennifer is busy failing at not creating the world’s longest resume, which includes everything from regaling her students at Boston University with celebrity gossip collected in her years as a publicist for 20th Century Fox, trying not to terrify expectant parents of twins at a local parenting center and running her own wholesale craft business, Linaloos Designs, selling handmade accessories made from vintage sweaters to boutiques. In all her “spare” time, she writes middle grade fiction about first kisses and is repped by Holly Root at The Waxman Literary Agency.

If celebrity gossip isn’t your thing, Jennifer can also entertain you with tales from the year she spent traveling the world solo and, for a really good story, ask her about how she met her husband on the highway--literally! Feed her Twitter addiction by starting up a conversation @jenniferlmalone.

Q. What does your writing environment look like? (Is there anything you can't write without?)

Jen: I wish I could say I went to work every day in my cozy little studio overlooking a lazy river, but my writing environment is wherever and whenever I happen to be balancing my laptop that day. I am very superstitious about a particularly cozy chair in my living room--I get my best writing done there, but I pay for it with a very stiff neck afterwards. I did keep a list of all the places I worked on my last ms- just for fun. It's mostly fairly boring places like my library or coffee shops, but I did write two chapters in the Swiss Alps at a hippy commune (Nope, I am not a hippy, I was there for work. I have a weird job.) Aside from my laptop I don't need anything else to write, but I can tell you what I can't write WITH and that would be any background noise like TV or music and especially not with a window open to Twitter...

Aimee: I'm really blessed to live at the beach. My most common writing environment is my own living room. While my son is at school I sit at the dining table facing a huge window that lines our living room and looks out over the sea. (That said, there are days I have to shut the curtains to help myself stay focused). In a pinch I can write anywhere and so far I haven't found anything I can't write without. But my favorite environment is indoors, silent--unless I'm playings songs from the playlist for that particular book--and near a window while it's raining outside. That's when I seem to do my best work.

Has anything autobiographical made it into your manuscript?
Jen: A thousand times, yes. Tons of little things. My character names are almost all nods to people I know, especially favorite teachers. I also like to give my man characters quirky traits that I have: never knowing the actual words to a song but singing along anyway, always mixing up common
expressions, being accident prone on staircases, things like that. In my completed ms, my character builds a dollhouse from a kit with her mom, which is also one of my favorite childhood memories. My WIP takes place in the land of movies and I'm drawing A LOT from my experiences as a publicist for 20th Century Fox. There is one encounter with an A-list star that I replicate almost exactly using my character- it was really fun to write and should be pretty interesting to read.
Aimee: Like Jen, I've had tons of little details, settings, rooms, teachers names, even friends / former classmates names. But honestly, the thing I draw on the most is my emotions. I really remember what it was like to be seventeen. I don't know why that time of my life was seared so indelibly on my psyche, but I know it's the reason I write for teens. I use the feelings and fears I used to have in every single manuscript I write. The book that got me my agent also draws on my experience being bullied in high school.
What's your favorite thing about being a YA / MG writer? Is there anything you dislike?
Jen: Well, my first manuscript is actually middle grade, though it's geared towards the upper end: my MC is 13. My WIP is YA and it's a first for me. In both instances, I really love writing the romance- whether it's first kiss stuff or (a tiny bit) steamier. My absolute favorite thing to write is dialogue,
exploring what would make two people connect in a way that hopefully has the reader screaming "Just kiss already!" at a certain point in the book. As for what I dislike, I'd say maybe the effort it takes to craft a message without crossing the line into preachy.
Aimee: I love being transported back into my high school days because I get to rewrite my own history--learn the lessons I wish I'd learned back then, or have some of the experiences I felt like I missed (even getting to relive some of the awesome parts). But I hate it too. There was a lot of pain in my life back then and I have to draw on that to make my characters real. My hope is, by mining those feelings and experiences, one day a girl will pick up my book in her library, read it, and think "She knows how I feel!"

And finally, if you could have been the author for any book out there, which do you wish you'd written and why?
Jen: Just one? Yikes. Well, I'm about to begin reading the Harry Potter series aloud for the third time- once to my husband as he did manly fixer-upper stuff to the decrepit 120 year-old Victorian we bought and renovated, once to my now 10 year-old twin boys and soon to my first-grade daughter. So I may just have to choose this series because if I'd written it, it would mean that not only am I the mastermind plotter of all time, but that I am capable of capturing the hearts of bajillions of kids (and adults) and most importantly, that my imagination would be the most wildly fun place on earth to go and play any time I wanted. Although more money than the Queen, paparazzi and haters: not so much.

Aimee: Right now, I'm in awe of the wit and humor in Julia Quinn's historical romances (specifically the Bridgerton Family series). I wish I had the ability to write that kind of snappy, laugh-out-loud dialogue. But in terms of story content, I wish I'd written Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. The concept is mind-boggling, and the story feels so real to me. Since I can't actually write that book, my goal is to be able to write something like it.


For more info on the re-launch, including how you can win some incredible prizes, click here!


  1. Yay for new bloggers, double yay for new YA WIPs with some romance, and a humble request for Aimee to write about EVERY PLACE SHE HAS EVER LIVED, EVER. Great interview!

  2. Nice interview, and glad to meet you guys. Look forward to future posts.

  3. It's really cute that you use names from teachers and other people you know as character names, Jen! If you've ever told them, that must make them feel so good!

    And Aimee, I adore your blog. Your writing posts are always so helpful without being pretentious!