I enjoyed UNDONE so much, I asked the author for an interview. She obliged me and now here it is! Enjoy learning more about Brooke Taylor.
Don't forget to read my review.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a debut author, but I’ve been writing all of my life. I’ve always been interested in YA books or adult books with young adult characters, so it’s kind of natural to be writing them now. I did try my hand at writing a book with adult characters, but ended up writing an additional 300 pages of the story before the story where the characters met and fell in love as teenagers. It is my favorite part of the book by far.
Other than writing, I live in the country with my horses, two cats that love to play book editor and rip up my pages, and two amazing dogs Kodiak and Roxy. I love going to the lake to SeaDoo. I never turn down Mexican food. And will eat anything that comes with icing. Sometimes I only eat the icing.
How does it feel to be a debut author?
It’s great, sometimes overwhelming and exhausting trying to figure out all the ins and outs, but the amazingly cool stuff outweighs all the stress.
Why did you choose to write young adult fiction?
It wasn’t really a choice. I never sat down and thought about what I should write, the stories I’m interested in are the ones where experiences are new and mistakes are made and learned from. I’m just not as excited by adults doing boring adult things, I guess because I am an adult and I’m often doing boring adult things.
You capture the high school atmosphere well in UNDONE. What aspect of Serena's high school experience was least like your own? (Aside from the whole Kori thing, of course.)
Thank you! I attended both a small private high school and a large public one, so I feel pretty comfortable talking about any high school experience. At both schools I remember a lot of things being learned from behind the bathroom stall doors, and I remember the teachers I dreaded and the ones that I loved, I remember the cool and brave person I could be with my close friends and the gawky, shy one I became with strangers. Probably the aspect that was least like my own experience was Doc Ramsey’s class. I had great teachers, but it wasn’t until college that I had a class like his.
I'm most like Lexi - the good girl who wants her friends to follow the rules. Which character were you most like in high school?
I was probably most like Poor Josh, LOL. Only I had slightly better hair. Of the girls, though, Serena is the closest to me. I was the introverted one with the wild and brash best friends and who was always after the older guys.
Which character would you most like to be like?
I’d most like to be like Cole. She’s not a girly girl or even a pretty girl, she just has this coolness about her that she isn’t even aware of and she gets the guys with just a look. That would be an awesome skill to learn.
Serena's dealing with a number of tough issues in UNDONE. Were any parts of the novel hard to write?
The toughest parts to write were the things that happened in Kori’s past. I just cringe at what her father did to her. I also had a hard time writing about Serena’s fights with her mother. I love my mom and I have a wonderfully supportive family, to be fighting with the only family member you have would be an awful life.
Did you know Serena would be facing so much when you started UNDONE?
No, but I did know what high school is like. You never have just one big issue to tackle; you have several things going on all at once—if not your own dramas, then your friends’. I think it is unrealistic to have a book or movie where the character only has to get their one big issue under control and then life will be perfect. It’s never that simple.
Do you like the cover?
I love the cover and I think the publisher (Walker) did an amazing job finding a model that looked so much like Serena. I couldn’t be more excited by it.
Do you have a soundtrack for UNDONE?
I mention several songs throughout the book and they form the “soundtrack” I have listed on my website. Music was such a huge part of my teenage years, I loved learning about new bands and would’ve totally killed for an iPod back then! You teens have it so good, you have no idea. We had carry crappy cassette tapes around. I still have my mix tapes from back then—the ones with songs I had to record off the radio. Now that was an art form, recording from the radio!
Finally, what would you say to people to convince them to read your novel? (That is, if they don't believe me they should read it.)
Well, the people who probably need convincing are probably the people who shy away from edgy books (you know books that have difficult subject matter, raw language, the word sex in them, etc.) and my guess is that most of those people are parents. The thing is, books like Undone are really a great place to learn what your teen is facing on a day to day basis, you’ll understand more and you may even find it easier to talk about some of the issues. So embrace the darkness!
Nothing is ever really finished...
UNDONE (Walker, July 2008)
Nominated for ALA's 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers!