Tuesday, April 24, 2007

So Not The Drama

I think I've said it elsewhere--I am addicted to Young Adult fiction. Maybe it's because I am a case of arrested development and still haven't quite gotten past high school. As the t-shirt says, you're only young once but you can be immature forever. *sheepish smile* In any case, I am always happy when the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit tour features a YA author. Maybe I'm a bit envious! I, too, would like to claim my hours in front of ZOEY 101 or LIFE WITH DEREK as research....

Anyway, I love to see what is up and coming in this area. To that end, let's welcome Paula Hyman Chase to the blog!


Paula Chase-Hyman doesn't mind being known as a Jane of all trades, Queen of none. But a single theme has followed throughout her career in communications—keeping her finger on the pulse of teen culture. From starting her own mentoring group at Annapolis Senior High School in '94 to coaching her Green Hornet cheerleaders to Grand Champion (ahem, twice), Chase-Hyman refuses to squash her inner teen diva. Luckily, her long memory for all things young led to a career writing young adult novels.

Now, watching an episode of The Hills or Zoey 101 is "research." At least that's what she tells her husband and daughter.


Hoping Del Rio Bay High will live up to her greatest expectations, Mina has big plans for infiltrating the school's social glitterati. After all, she's been mad popular for as long as she can remember—and she isn't about to go from Middle School Royalty to High School Ambiguity. But Del Rio Bay is a big school, so it'll take some plotting to avoid getting lost in the crowd. Good thing she isn't afraid of a little hard work—and that her playground peeps, Lizzie, Michael, and JZ, have got her back.

But it isn't long before Mina's big plans for securing her social status take a back seat to some drama that was so not expected. Lizzie's scored an invite from the beautiful people that Mina can only dream about, and not only is Michael tripping about being back in school, but now he's beefing with JZ. Worst of all, Mina's sociology class experiment to rid the world—or at least Del Rio Bay High—of prejudice is about to backfire. Because it might just mean she'll have to rid herself of her very best friend...

"Contemporary friendship story, which revels in rich diversity of race, color, and class."

"There is plenty here for readers to ponder about race, class and popularity (and lots of material for the next book). "
—Publishers Weekly


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

I’ve always been a “do-er.” If I don’t like the way something is done and I can help improve it or enhance it, I’ll do it. I thought YA fiction was lacking in contemporary stories featuring African American characters. So, I set out to write just that, with one other goal in mine – make the rest of the cast diverse as well. Because many books had either all white casts or all black casts etc… I wanted mine to represent the type of friendship circles my daughter had.

One Saturday, I woke up and had these characters in my head. I knew their names, what they looked like and what town they were from. I ran into my office, outlined it (my first and only outline because I’m total pantser) and began writing it that same day. The words just flowed out of me. I can honestly say the first and second books wrote themselves. This third one…it’s work.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Never let the insecurity (is this good enough) stop you. A bad writing day is better than not writing at all. As long as there is something on the paper, it can be tweaked, re-worked and polished.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

Organized? Ha. I laugh in the face of organization. Seriously, I’m not one to comment on organization. My entire process is messy from start to finish. I’ve attempted outlining, but never follow. For this third book, I’ve even written the chapters out of sequence as the ideas come to me. Something I didn’t do for the first two. I have about four different notebooks where I scribble thoughts. I’m fairly certain if you look up unorganized, my photo may be beside it.

I work full-time in public relations, so writing is my semi-full-time job. I used to be a night-writer. But for this latest work, I’ve gotten up early each morning to get my writing in. It’s working but kicking my butt. Even though I don’t get to write as long in the morning (90 minutes at best) it’s been amazing to watch the novel grow. I’m almost done.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

The exciting part is having your work validated. Writing is so solitary. It’s like wandering in the desert alone, most days. Finding a publisher who wanted my work was like hitching a ride back into town.

The most frustrating is the mystery. There’s still a lot I don’t get or understand about publishing. And although my agent and editor are very forthright when I ask industry-related questions, the truth is if I asked all the questions I really had they wouldn’t have any time to get work done. I researched as much as I could about the industry, before ever submitting my work. But there’s still so much to learn.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

So Not The Drama is actually part of a series. Kensington Books has acquired five books. The second, Don’t Get It Twisted, will be released in December. I’m working on the third, That’s What’s Up!, now to be released June ’08. I enjoy series writing. I can see a time where I’d want to untether myself. But for now, I love the comfort zone, series writing affords me. Comfort zones are hard to come by in this industry.

Thank you so much for the interview, Paula! SO NOT THE DRAMA is available at Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble. But take my advice--the best way to buy books and support your community is to stop in at your local indy bookseller.