28 July, 2015

#Interview with Brenna Ehrlich, #Author of Placid Girl

About the Author:

Brenna Ehrlich is the founder of All Ages Press, a small press/label for weird teens (and everyone else). The co-writer of the blog and book STUFF HIPSTERS HATE, Brenna is currently a senior writer/editor for MTV News. She enjoys trying not to die in moshpits.

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Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I honestly can't remember. I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I remember a very early "book" of ghost stories that I wrote as a kid, but it basically just amounted to a table of contents with the names of the stories. I don't think I ever really fleshed that out. I went on to write 70 pages of a novel in high school and win a few poetry contests and whatnot -- but it was never a career consideration for me.
At that point, I got waylaid by acting and went to college for that. I soon discovered that I wasn't really cut out for that life, and returned to writing in college when I took a class from Arthur Golden, who wrote "Memoirs Of A Geisha." In that class, I was like, "OK, I guess I'm supposed to be doing this. I don't really like improv games, anyway." 

What inspires you to write?
Everything. It's basically all I do. I don't really have any hobbies. I write at work for 9+ hours per day and then I go home and (hopefully) write more. For me, it's a way to inhabit other people and worlds -- a kind of silent acting, really. You can be anyone that you want when you write, which is a huge draw.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I'm a music writer, so I follow and am followed by a ton of musicians on Instagram. I always thought it was interesting how they could curate their lives and how their fans interact with those curated lives. I'm not sure how much I can say without giving TOO much away, but I just pictured what was going on outside the frame -- and how shocked fans might be to discover what lurked there.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yup! I wrote a whole novel before this one. I plan to work on it more, though, because I still like it. It's a modern-day version of  "The Picture Of Dorian Gray."

Tell us about your writing process.
It changes. For "PLACID GIRL" it involved a glass of whiskey and a record by Gap Dream. I would just write and write while listening to the record on repeat. Just a mess. Then, the next day I would edit it all. Rinse and repeat. Once it was done, though, the book went through several edits with help from my beta readers, my editor Kat Howard, my sister Lara Ehrlich and tons of helpful friends.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I love all the scenes at DIY venues. I was not cool growing up, so I didn't go to shows (and, as I said, I was too busy trying to become a famous actress), so after moving to New York post-grad school going to shows became a HUGE part of my life. It was cool to incorporate some of my favorite DIY, all-ages venues into my book -- shoutouts to Shea Stadium, 285 Kent (RIP) and Living Bread (RIP).

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
All of my characters are partly me. I would say Hallie inherited by teenage tendency to want to BE her crushes. I once asked for David Bowie's haircut and my mom shut that down pretty quickly.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have to write in a linear fashion. I don't know if that's interesting. It's mostly annoying -- like, I have to read over everything I've written while editing. It's maddening.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read every single day. For YA, I love Robert Cormier and Francesca Lia Block. For adult books, I love JD Salinger and James Joyce and TS Eliot and countless people. I don't think they've all influenced by writing style in any direct way, but reading every day has definitely helped make me a better writer. Reading helps you understand just... how words work. How they sound. What they can do.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Kill your darlings. They need to die. You have too many of them. Not all of them are so darling.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Just do it? Don't let anyone tell you exactly how. Don't let anyone tell you have to write every day to be a real writer. Sometimes the work is done standing on the train or in the shower or while taking a walk -- you need time to think, too.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I really want my book to be a movie! I DIY'd it, so I have to figure out how one even does that. I think I would want Stefania Owen ("Carrie Diaries") to be Hallie, Thomas Mann ("Me And Earl And The Dying Girl") to be Steve and someone like Miley Cyrus or Bea Miller to be Sarah. I'd want a real singer. For Haze... I can't give too much away, but I think I'd want a real punk band dude. Maybe one of the guys from FIDLAR or the So So Glos or something.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
Hmm, a Kindle (assuming I have Internet access and whatnot -- even though I don't know why I'd be stranded then), a music-playing device, and probably my cat Edie even though she sucks and bites me all the time.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I basically just go to shows at DIY venues. I've also been geo-caching a lot with my boyfriend, which is super nerdy but also extremely fun. You should try it. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I want my book to be a movie? Or one of my books to be a movie.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I'm a junior black belt in karate (I quit when I was 16), I've been skiing since I was three and once went on a ride-along with a cop.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
More books, zines and tapes!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Thanks for reading, guys! Feel free to send me your writing, too!

About the Book:

Punk was created for the malcontents, something that loner and aspiring drummer Hallie understands all too well. Trapped in a boring suburban life – dysfunctional parents included! – Hallie drowns her angst in the angry songs of Haze, a masked musician who has not been heard from in five years. So naturally she’s surprised – and more than a little skeptical – when someone who seems to be Haze starts flirting with her via her favorite photo-sharing app. Is he who he says he is? What does he want from her? The questions only multiply when Hallie — along with bandmate Sarah and aspiring music journalist Steve — roadtrip to Haze's comeback gig to unmask the reclusive musician once and for all.

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