Wednesday, February 15, 2012
An Interview with Author Anna Staniszewski
A few years ago, I was working on a dark, depressing story that was sucking the life out of me. I desperately needed something to cheer me up. So I sat down and wrote a scene about a girl named Jenny who comes home from school one day to find a talking frog sitting on her bed. Instead of being scared or excited to see a magical frog, Jenny was annoyed. In fact, she took that frog and threw it right out the window! I knew I had to tell her story.
I'm a total pantser so the story was all over the place in early versions. When I signed with my agent, she helped me to streamline the story, which involved cutting out two major characters and significantly simplifying the plot. She also suggested that I play around with the voice since it wasn't quite working. For years the story had been in third person, but when I decided to try rewriting it in first person, things really came together. I could practically hear Jenny saying: "Finally, you're letting me tell my own story!" Once the manuscript was in her voice, things really started to flow.
Jenny is the person I wish I could be. She's fearless and outspoken, and she always manages to figure things out. Since I tend to be shy and wimpy, "becoming Jenny" for a little while gave me a chance to break out of my shell.
Can you share your own favorite line from the book?
My favorite line would have to be the opening: "You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? Lies. All Lies." This opening was the first thing I wrote when I changed the story to first person. Since Jenny was finally ale to tell her own story, this line feels the most like her.
What is one of your favorite books as a five year-old? Another as a ten year-old? Another of your current favorites?
When I was five, I was obsessed with a book of Polish Gypsy fairy tales that I made my parents read to me over and over. I was convinced that one day I'd grow up to be a Gypsy princess.
As a ten-year-old, I particularly loved fantasy and science fiction. One of my favorites was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
My current favorites? Oh boy, there are so many! I'm still a huge sci-fi fan, but my love of fairy tales and fantasy is still going strong. I love anything that transports me to another time/place and makes me think.
How has the publication of your first novel changed your writing process--if at all?