I'm so excited to have E.C. Newman on my blog today talking about her YA paranormal novel, Phase.
If you haven't read her book yet, you can read all about it at the end of the interview, where you'll also
find more information about Eden.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when you decided to start writing your first novel.
A little bit? Which bit? I’m from the South, but now live in Illinois. I teach both literature and drama at a private school up here. I went to graduate school in Bath, England and miss it every day. I love talking to people whether I’ve known them for ages or just met them. I used to plan to be a rock star (drummer specifically) as my plan B in life.
I’ve been writing seriously since I was about nineteen. Before that I made up stories in my head and often acted them out with My Little Ponies and Barbies. But in college, I started writing both fanfiction (began with Newsies) and tried my hand my own stories as well. The first real novel I wrote (that I can consider worth calling my ‘first real novel’) isn’t published, but it got me my lovely agent, and it sits in my computer begging to be revamped. I wrote it for my Masters (that grad school in England) and I’m so very proud of it despite the many rejections it received from publishers. I started that book in 2008 (officially, but the idea had been in my head since 2006).
2. What is your novel about and what inspired you to write it?
Phase is a young adult paranormal novel about a senior, Sophie, who befriends another girl, Jules. Jules is a foster kid and Sophie comes from a strong close-knit family. It takes several overtures on Sophie’s part to connect with Jules, but when events start happening and secrets are revealed, the girls’ friendship is tested. There are also bullies, spying on others, and high school classes to survive. And cute boys.
I wanted to write about girl friendship. That’s truly how Phase started. I don’t usually start with such a broad idea or theme. It’s usually a character or scene or moment. But I wanted two girls who stuck by each other. But as I stared at the ceiling while crashed on my bed that April night in 2009, I knew a theme wasn’t a story. The next thought was “What if one of them isn’t human?” And there you go. Phase was born. It was going to be a standalone novel, but two other characters really wanted their stories told. So, we have a trilogy.
3. Describe a typical day in your life.
During the school year, it’s me getting woken up by my two-year-old dog, Marjorie, usually before the alarm goes off. Followed by a walk, coffee and getting ready for the day. Eight hours plus of teaching and trying to inspire young minds. Then I come home and walk my dog again. I usually watch something on Netflix to debrief from the day and then get started on grading or prepping. If I’m lucky and a wiz at time management, I carve out some time to write in the evenings. Weekends are filled with errand running, socializing (if I can) and oh, more grading. No teacher will tell you his or her favorite part is the grading. For me, it’s the kids themselves that make it worth it.
4. Plotter or pantser? What is your writing process?
Total pantser. I write what I feel like writing, often out of order and possibly with the potential of not being used. After I write quite a bit, I do a chapter breakdown outline type thing, notes on characters, etc. It’s probably not the most efficient way to write a book, but if I outline too much I won’t write it. The playing around introduces me to the characters and the story. It’s like mingling at a party, but more fun.
5. Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
That’s tough because I’m annoyingly open with just about everybody. I guess, I collect Zippo lighters. I’ve gotten them from places I’ve visited (like one with the German Flag on it, another with the outline of England etched on it). I don’t smoke, so it’s probably a bit odd. I’ve liked them since my high school did Grease my senior year (I was Frenchy) and we had one as a prop. It was fun to play with (flipping it open, igniting it by swiping the little wheel thing by brushing it on your jeans).
6. Who is your favorite character in your novel and why?
Oh my gosh, what a question. That’s like asking a parent who they’re favorite child is. Cruel. I guess, oh man, I can’t answer this. I love Sophie because it’s in her voice and I relate to her best, but Jules tugs at my heart. Ezra makes me a little swoony and Gil is just precious.
7. If your book were to be made into a movie who would you cast?
Emma Stone I know (if she was younger) would be Summer (my bully). I’d love to see her play someone unlikable. There’s an actress who was in New In Town with Harry Connick Jr. and Renee Zellweger. She played Connick’s daughter, Bobbie and she was cute, but not typical Hollywood-looking. Her name is Ferron Guerreiro. She’d be perfect for Sophie. I haven’t found Jules yet. Evan Peters from American Horror Story would work well for Ezra (when Evan was younger) without the creepy stuff. And a younger Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Micah.
8. If you could be a character in any book, who would you be and why?
Another question that’s so hard to answer because there are some great characters out there. I used to want to play Ophelia when I wanted to be an actress, but I wouldn’t want to BE her. I’d say Wendy in Peter Pan. Because she got to go to Neverland, and what an adventure, but also got to be with her loving family in the end.
9. What is your favorite line in your book?
When I wrote it, I told my friend that it should be on a bumper sticker and I just made it into a button. I just liked the flow of it. Ezra, the protagonist’s crush, says it: “You're a ring-wearing, save-yourself-for-marriage kind of girl. I dig that.” Maybe it’s just all the hyphens.
10. What are you working on now?
The other two books in the Phase Trilogy. Each book is from another character’s point of view so it’s been quite the process to get into the head of another character I’ve already written. There’s also that first novel I wrote that I mentioned before that I’m always trying to make better. And last is this wonderful idea I had for over a year that’s completely out of my genre and style and requires major research. I hope to get to that one soon.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog!!
About E.C. Newman
Born and raised wherever the military sent her father, E. C. Newman is a storyteller at heart. It didn't translate into writing, however, until she found herself in Ancient History her freshman year of college, desperate to stay awake. Bringing stories alive since then in FanFiction, poetry, and original work gave E. C. the confidence to add a Writing Major to her bachelor's degree, and after a stint in acting school in Los Angeles, she gained a MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University in Bath, England.
E.C. currently lives with her mutt of a dog in Illinois, where she teaches middle school drama and high school literature, and can't help but find it hilarious that she’s now teaching how to write an essay when she so deplored them as a student herself. In her spare time, E. C. is also a reader for a literary scout, which keeps her current with the children’s literature market. She actively avoids growing up by writing stories about high school and the trials and triumphs that accompany it.
Sophie Todd hoped that her senior year would be different. Unfortunately, different seems to mean getting punched in the face for sticking up for the new girl, having her offer of friendship spurned by said new girl, and finally gaining the attention of her long-time crush, Ezra Varden, but for all the wrong reasons.
It's a tenuous friendship at best, but as Juliet starts to open up to Sophie, they both realize that the Vardens, Juliet's foster family, is not your average family. They're extremely close-knit—freakishly so—but they welcomed a complete stranger into their home, which just so happens to have the largest meat freezer anyone's ever seen...
...and certainly no one said anything about Ezra and the wolves.