Thursday, May 12, 2011
Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Christina Mandelski
1) How did you get the idea for The Sweetest Thing?
Honestly, the initial idea came from watching the TV show Ace of Cakes. My family loves that show and I’m so impressed by the cakes they make. They are truly works of art. I started to wonder what it would be like to be a teenager who had a talent for cake decorating. And that was the beginning of The Sweetest Thing.
2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email! Where were you when you got it? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?
When “the call” came from my agent I was in the chair at the hair salon. I had my phone in my lap (b/c I knew news was imminent) but turns out that salon was in the deadest of dead zones. When I left, a voicemail message popped up. It was my agent saying “Where are you? I’ve got news!” So although it came a little late, of course I was no less excited. And my family was thrilled too – we went out for a nice dinner and of course, there was cake!
3) I absolutely love cats and own quite a few. Your bio mentions your "half-housecat, half-cheetah named Spencer". With a description like that, I can tell there must be some fun stories. Can you share some with us?
Ah, Spencer. He’s typical – only wants attention when he’s good and ready, which is often during a pivotal point in my writing/revising. He’ll hop up on my desk, position himself between me and the monitor, and stare at me until I pet him. Really, though, writing can be quite lonely at times, so it’s nice to have a warm furry friend for random snuggling.
4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?
I’m a purist. Cherry, please. Unless they’re sour, and then I’ll eat almost any flavor!
5) You received a degree in Creative Writing but say it took you many years before sitting down to write a novel. What were you doing in the meantime? Any interesting jobs?
Right out of college I worked in the production department of a dental trade (back in the old days when everything was still laid out on paper with rubber cement). Let me just say, I’ve seen enough photos of bloody gums to last me a lifetime. A few years later, I got married and had two daughters, and they became my full time job. It was when they started preschool that I began to write seriously. Now they are in middle school and here I am, finally published!
6) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I try to encourage all people who are writers at heart to never give up. People will tell you the odds are not good, they’ll tell you discouraging things like you have more chance of getting struck by lightning than getting a book published. But I don’t buy that, and neither should you. I recently went to an SCBWI conference in Houston where one of the guest speakers was Ruth McNally Barnshaw, author/illustrator of the Ellie McDoodle series. She said something that I wrote down and underlined. She said, “If you do every part of the job well, you will sell a book.” In other words, it’s not an easy road -- practice, diligence, facing rejection and doing your homework are absolutely required. But it can happen. It does happen – it happened to me!
7) What book(s) are you reading right now, or are about to start?
I’m in the middle of two. I’m almost finished with Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Grey, which is a hard book to read, but poignant and beautifully written. And the other book is Amy Holder’s The Lipstick Laws – definitely lighter fare than Ruta’s, but still so engagingly written. These are two debut authors to watch out for! Right now I’m so busy planning the launch of The Sweetest Thing that I’m not reading as much as usual. But I’m planning to read all summer long (my tbr pile reaches up to the ceiling). I can’t wait!