Aimee Friedman is an author who specialized in young adult fiction. Yet even though her books are geared for a younger marker she has a large and dedicated adult following. Aimee who wrote her first story at age 5 has always been writing. She also wears the hat of editor for Children's books. Her books are wonderful and we thank her for taking some time to answer some questions for the readers at Book Reviews and More.
1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?
Probably a film director or a costume designer-I love fashion, and all elements of storytelling. I'm a big believer in make-believe.
2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?
I've wanted to write since I COULD write - probably since the age of five or so. Nothing else gave me quite that thrill or sense of creative bliss. And I wrote all the time-it was my absolute favorite thing to do. So I think just the sheer act of practicing so much-although it didn't feel like practice, only fun-was a great way to nurture my dream.
3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?
I was very fortunate to have many wonderful teachers (and in college, professors) who encouraged my passion for writing, and critiqued my work as well. I also owe a huge debt to my parents, of course-they instilled in me a fierce love for books and language, and they always told me they knew I could "do it"-go on and become a published author.
4. What authors influenced your writing style and format?
Growing up, I was a voracious reader-I still am, but I don't have quite as much time to loll about my room and tear through books all day (I miss childhood summers!) I read everything from The Secret Garden to The Baby-Sitters Club, from V.C. Andrews to Virginia Woolf, and I think, on some level or another, everything I've read has influenced who I am as a writer. It's more subconscious than anything.
5. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?
To not feel as if there was something I "should" be writing-and to not worry too much about labels like "literary" and "commercial." The key is to write what excites you, and to try put all that other "noise" outside your head.
6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?
I like to outline. I basically just write out a fairly broad summary of what I want to happen in the story, but I leave it loose. I leave room for change and twists along the way. A novel is a living, breathing thing-I don't think I've ever written a book that stayed exactly as it was in outline form. Then I'll discuss the outline with my editor, and once I've been given the green light, I'll dive into writing. I write in a very linear way-I start at Chapter One and can't really skip around too much. The first draft is the hardest part for me, because I tend to self-edit as I go, so that takes a while. But once the first draft is done, I'm always happy to revise and tinker. I find revising much easier than drafting, but it's a different process for every author.
7. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?
I love that story! I totally relate. I think about my characters all the time-where they would be now, what they might do in a given situation. They become very real to me in the writing process, and they stay with me long after. If possible, I'd continue writing all their stories…but new characters always crop up in my head, too.
8. One of the greatest strengths in your books are the characters, they are so solid and believable. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations?
Thank you! I've never deliberately based a character on one particular person. They are mostly composites of people I've known, people I've read about, and, of course, myself. There's a piece of me in all my characters-some more than others.
9. What of your books was the hardest to write and why?
Sea Change was challenging to write because it has subtle elements of the fantastical in it, and that was a change of pace for me, even though I love all things paranormal. I knew I didn't want the book to go into full-on paranormal mode (and I wrote it before the paranormal romance genre even really exploded in YA!) but it was still tricky to walk that balance. In the end, I felt that the hard work paid off…I hope!
10. What were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?
Judy Blume, Ann M. Martin, Candace Ransom, Paula Danziger, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Stephen King, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and on and on…
11. Who are some of your favorite authors or books now?
Michael Chabon, Ann Patchett, Philip Roth, Meg Cabot, Emma Donoghue, Emily Giffin, and on and on…
12. A few of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?
I am a die-hard traditional book person (I don't own an ereader yet), but you can't stem the tide. And ultimately I think ebooks are just another format for getting stories into the hands of readers. They also provide wonderful opportunities for interactive elements. I do feel strongly that we need to keep tabs on the pirating of ebooks, and ensure that authors and publishers are compensated.
13. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?
This hasn't happened to me yet.
14. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?
It's different for everyone. I loved college-I do think it taught me how to think in a more critical and sharp way, and it really helped me hone my creative writing skills. This is almost more a question for my sister, who is an English professor. I will have to discuss with her!
15. What advice would you give to teens today, to your readers, what gems of knowledge have you gleaned in life that you would pass on?
Oh, boy…I don't think I've gleaned ANY gems of knowledge yet! In many ways, I still feel very much like a 15-year-old inside (no surprise I went into children's books….). One thing I wish I'd known as a teen would be to take things a lot less seriously and to develop a thicker skin-it's hard, at that time in your life, not to take everything that happens to you to heart. But on the other hand, that's what makes it such a rich and interesting time. And, in truth, I still take things too much to heart! That's probably why I'm a writer.
16. You have published some books under pseudonyms, the one know about is Ruth Ames, are there other names you have published under?
Nope, just Ruth Ames so far! But she does have a new book coming out-At First Bite, a companion to This Totally Bites, in November.
17. Have any of your books been optioned for books or TV? If so what ones? If not is there one you would especially like to see done?
My book South Beach was optioned for film, and my novella Working in a Winter Wonderland (in the collection Mistletoe) was as well. Some of my other books are in early development/discussion-of-optioning phases, so I don't want to jinx them by giving away too much! :
18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?
The Great Gatsby Jane Eyre The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay The Norton Anthology of Poetry Room The Secret Garden Without Feathers The Princess Diaries The Graveyard Book Something Borrowed (Though, come to think of it, if I had an eReader, I could upload hundreds! Hey!)
But the battery would die on the eReader then you would have no books.
19. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?
Keep writing, keep reading, keep "practicing"-but if it's something you truly love, it will never feel like practice. And stay on course- dreams are absolutely tangible. Go for it!
Aimee thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us here at Book Reviews and More. I look forward to read more of your books in the near future.
Books By Aimee Friedman:
South Beach (2004)
French Kiss (2005)
A Novel Idea (2005)
Hollywood Hills (2007)
The Year My Sister Got Lucky (2008)
Sea Change (2009)
Breaking Up (2007 - with Christine Norrie )
As Ruth Ames:
This Totally Bites - Poison Apple Book 2 (2009)
At First Bite - Poison Apple Book 8 (2011)