Yeah, so....welcome to the blog of Judith Tewes, young adult contemporary fiction author. Here be edgy stories with a side of snark.


Take Tewes with Alexandra Diaz

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

Without further ado, I welcome young adult fiction author, Alexandra Diaz, published 
Alexandra Diaz
with Egmont. Alexandra is a fellow Class of 2k10 member (although I'm there are Judith Graves) and I so enjoyed hanging out with her during our NYC book tour. I'm proud to call her a friend and critique partner. From her website:  

Alexandra Diaz is a Cuban-American spending her time between Bath, England, Santa Fe, NM, and the rest of the world. She has an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and has led various workshops since she was fourteen. As a result of being homeschooled for most of high school, she’s fascinated by teenage school life and the drama that occurs in those quarters. One of the reasons she writes is to experience life in someone else’s shoes. She is a “jenny of all trades” having worked as a nanny, teacher, film extra, tour guide, and dairy goat judge (seriously) among several other jobs. In addition to traversing the world, she enjoys hiking, swing dancing, and performing circus arts.
Alexandra has several titles available for your reading pleasure:
On with the questions!

1. Of All the Stupid Things is told from multiple viewpoints. Which character was the easiest voice to write / the most challenging?

When I first thought of writing Of All the Stupid Things in multiple points of view, I thought it was going to be quite a challenge. Once I got into the novel and knew my characters, I didn't find it nearly as taxing as I has initially thought. Part of the secret of writing in multiple POVs is knowing your character well: what they would do, how they think, how they react to situations.

The easiest character for me to write was Pinkie. She's the worry-wort of the bunch. Her brain is overactive, insecure, and she double and triple guesses everything. I found it very easy to get into her head (don't know what that says about me!). The hardest character was definitely Whitney Blaire. She a bit of a bitch and it was hard to make her into a likeable character. By showing what really went on in her head and her family life, I was able to show (hopefully) how and why she acted the way she did. It's a great and useful exercise to know and understand what factors makes a character who or what they are.

As a result of writing in different POVs for my first book, I feel I'm able to write new and diverse characters better because I know how to get their heads.

2. You recently wrote two YA novels "on commission" which, as you explain on your website, means: "...it was someone else’s idea and I was paid to write it." Congrats on this awesome writing gig! ;) How did your process differ from when working on projects entirely of your own creation?

Writing on commission is very different from writing your own story. Some people can see it was being a bit contrived and formulaic, and for those it might not be the easiest work. I, however, loved it. I was given a 15 page outline of the story that I had to develop into a 40,000 word novel in two months. I love having deadlines and although two months is not very long, it was perfectly manageable even with day jobs. I didn't have to worry about what happened next and how it worked with the story arch because all of that was in the outline. Although there isn't too much creativity in this kind of work, I was able to make the characters "my own" and I certainly feel like it was my book even though I didn't come up with the story.

I was fortunate to work with a great editor who listened to my ideas and allowed me to add extra scenes where needed. It was a paid writing job, which allowed me to work under deadlines and guidelines, but still flexible enough to add my own personal touches. It also gave me the discipline and confidence to work on future projects of my own. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Alexandra! Want more Diaz? I knew you would. Check out her website and like her on Facebook.


Take Tewes with Christine Duval

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I hope to feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

Without further ado, I welcome young adult fiction author, Christine Duval as the very first feature for Take Tewes.

Christine Duval
Christine is a fellow Bloomsbury Spark author and I'm thrilled to help spread the word about this new Bloomsbury YA imprint, as well as chat up its amazing author roster. Christine's debut novel has a working title of Freshman Forty and is set to launch early 2014.

About her novel (from her website):

My debut novel was inspired by two events that were happening at the same time a couple years ago: my best friend announced she was expecting her first child and one of my babysitters was going off to college. I got to thinking given the typical college calendar, a girl, newly pregnant and away at school, could feasibly conceal a pregnancy from everyone at home for the entire nine months if she wanted to. Then Laurel began talking to me and a story was born.

The questions:

1.You've studied in Florence and have traveled most of Europe. (Cool! I've had a few trips overseas and am keen to return any chance I get.) How is exploring an unfamiliar country similar to developing a new fictional character?

That's a fun question! I think it is all about being open and willing to immerse yourself in another world. When you travel to another country, you have the choice to either take in the culture, the people, the differences to what you are familiar with or to remain a closed off tourist. I can attest that it is a lot more fun to be open.  The same thing goes when creating a fictional character. In my book, I don't always agree with the choices my MC makes but when I was creating her, I just let her talk and I listened. I guess to write someone believable, you have to be accepting of the whole person and unafraid to go to places that may at first feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar.   

2. Can you share a favourite line from your upcoming Bloomsbury Spark title? Why is this one a stand out? 

Well, it is a group of lines, if that is okay:
Everyone warned me about Colman College. The workload is heavy, the professors don't mess around. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. I have a math class, a writing seminar, a phys.ed. requirement that's being fulfilled by taking a class in Swedish massage of all things, a course in molecular biology that I like, plus a lab to go with it, and an Intro to Legal Ethics class that I can't stand. I also have a positive pregnancy test - two, actually. Way to get things started.
These are the first lines from my book. I like them because there is no beating around the bush, no build-up to the problem at hand. The reader is brought front and center into my MC's world from the very first line and from there we go. 

Thanks so much, Judith!
Was a pleasure to have you, Christine and thanks for being a willing test subject for Take Tewes! Get ready for great things from this rising star, follow Christine on FacebookTwitter, and check out her website.