Ultimate YA is an organization that promotes young adult literature (YA lit) and reading. We feature one YA lit author per month. Each feature includes a short bio of the author, as well as fun facts and an interview. If you would like to be featured, please send an email inquiry to email@example.com.
In addition to our features, we post quotes and memes of the week that relate to books, writing, and/or reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively. We also post anything else that we find interesting regarding reading and writing.
Follow my blog at www.ashleyperez.com/blog. I have an author fan page on Facebook. Find me there! Follow me on Twitter: @ashleyhopeperez. Check out my reviews and profile on Goodreads. Connect with me via my profile on Figment.com, the best place for teen writers on the web. I gladly receive (and respond to) emails from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOOK GIVEAWAY REMINDER! Enter for a chance to win a copy of Ashley’s The Knife and the Butterfly. Contest ends on Feb. 29, 2012.
BOOK GIVEAWAY REMINDER! Enter for a chance to win a copy of Ashley’s The Knife and the Butterfly.
7. What is the best part about being a writer? The most challenging?
The most challenging part for me is always the first draft. At that point, I don’t trust what I’m writing at all, and I live in fear that it won’t add up to anything.
The best part of the actual writing is when things really click and I can feel the direction that I should go in with a project. Also, I love revising. The best part of being an author is connecting with readers. I love doing school visits and hearing from folks.
9. Any book recommendations for our readers?
Some of my YA faves include THE BOOK THIEF, everything by Matt de la Peña (his debut BALL DON’T LIE will always be special to me), MADAPPLE by Christina Ledlum, IMANI ALL MINE by Connie Porter, HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff, and of course the amazing works by my fellow Carolrhoda Lab authors.
If you want to read something totally different, check out Ana Castillo’s brilliant THE MIXQUIAHUALA LETTERS, a book that offers you multiple ways of reading the chapters, with each path totally changing the ending. I also love THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS by Arundhati Roi. It gives me chills every time I read it.
10. What message would you like people to take away from THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY?
I hope it will make them think about how lucky each of us is when we get a chance to fix something we’ve screwed up. Also, I’d like people to discover another side of what being a teen can mean for some kids out there. One of my readers (who lives in Houston) recently wrote to me about how, after reading THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY, she couldn’t stop thinking about “the other Houston.” I liked that very much.
11. Any advice for our aspiring writers?
Actually do it. Write, I mean. Every day if you can, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I wrote my first novel in fifteen-minute chunks, and I have a supremely dorky way of making sure I write at least this much every day (it involves colored markers and a calendar, and I explain it here).
For more ideas on making writing work, check out this post on my blog or just explore any of the entries under the “writing advice” tag. And don’t be afraid to comment or send questions. I occasionally do a “reader’s question” feature on my blog where I respond to questions that have been sent to me.
12. What’s next on the writing front after the February release of THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY?
I’m smack-dab in the middle of writing my third novel. I’m very superstitious about discussing unfinished work, so I will only say that it’s set in the 1930s (but please don’t even THINK about sticking it with that hideously boring-sounding label, “historical fiction”) and that it involves an explosion, an interracial romance, twins, a shoe, and a tree. I won’t know until I finish it when you can expect to see it on shelves, but the latest news is always on my website, and if you follow my blog, or follow me on twitter (@ashleyhopeperez) you are sure to find out about it!
Thanks for the wonderful questions—and for letting me hang out with all of you. Hope to hear from you soon!
NOTE: This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. The giveaway will end on Feb. 29, 2012.
Only 12 more days left, bookworms! Don’t miss this awesome chance to win a free book from a rising YA author! =D
We are pleased to announce that our February 2012 Featured Author, Ashley Perez, will be giving away one gorgeous, hardcover copy of her novel, The Knife and the Butterfly!
Here are the rules:
1.) It is only open to residents of the United States and Canada.
The contest ends on February 29th. We will announce the winner March 5th!
Good luck to all our entrants!
BOOK GIVEAWAY REMINDER! Enter for a chance to win a copy of Ashley’s The Knife and the Butterfly.
1. Who was your favorite character to write in THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY?
Writers, like parents, are probably not supposed to have favorites. This hasn’t been an issue for me yet as a mom because I only have one little boy. But as a writer, I definitely have favorites. In THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY Azael was my favorite from the beginning, in part because I felt that—in the news coverage of the event that sparked my novel—the guy got a lot less attention than the girl who was the starting point for my other main character, Lexi.
I still wanted to grab Azael sometimes and just shake some sense into him, especially when he was making bad choices. There were also plenty of things that I didn’t want to think about (like Azael’s, ahem, private thoughts about his girlfriend). But to capture the mind of my 15-year-old protagonist, I had to get over myself. In the end, Azael lived up to his status as “favorite” most of all in his good intentions regarding his little sister, Regina. Azael and his brother Eddie don’t have a lot of resources, but they do their absolute best to make up for their dad’s lack of warmth toward her. And when things get too bad, they get her out of the home and into a safer place.
2. Which do you enjoy more: teaching or writing? Or do you love them equally?
I think I need them both—working in tandem—to do my best in each domain. For me, writing is generally very draining, although in a good way. Teaching is hard work, but when it’s going well, it’s energizing for me. I use a lot of classroom structures that help students to become active contributors to each other’s understanding, and along the way I learn A LOT. After being inside my head all morning to write (if I’m lucky enough to have a whole morning), it feels great to head to campus, change gears, and dig into texts with my awesome students.
3. How many languages do you know?
(Picture me staring at my feet, wishing you had asked something easier to answer, like how many toenails still have at least some nail polish from that pedicure five months ago.)
It all depends on how you define “know.” If you are very generous, I know four languages.
Of course my English is decent. I speak Spanish fluently, although there are gaps in my vocabulary. Like, I could never explain to you how to change a tire in Spanish, although I could talk about literature or cooking all day long.
Things get dicier from there. I can read in Portuguese, but beyond one graduate class, I’ve never spent much time speaking it. As for French… I read well, but my speaking is pretty pathetic. We live in Paris at the moment, and my French is good enough to get around, but I’m sad to say that it has not improved much. I teach all day in English, and then I come home and speak Spanish with my husband and our son. So French is pretty much reserved for buying fruits and veggies in the market, ordering in restaurants, and greeting our neighbors when we cross paths in the apartment building.
4. Of your two published novels, WHAT CAN’T WAIT and THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY, which was your favorite to write?
You keep hitting me with the questions about favorites! Are you a middle child? I ask because, in my experience, middle children are obsessed with favoritism. :)
Seriously, now… these novels—and my experiences writing them—are so different it’s hard to compare them, so I’ll just tell you what I loved about writing each.
My students in Houston read the first draft of WHAT CAN’T WAIT as I was writing it, and it was very exciting to have real readers clambering for the next installment of the novel. They also covered the manuscript with sticky notes and annotations, many of which I revisited when I was revising the novel.
THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY is more complex in its narrative structure, and I loved learning to be the writer who could do the story in my head justice.
5. Which character (from any of your novels) do you related to the most? And why?
There is a kernel of me and my experiences in every character I write. Often, giving a character some of my own flaws (which I can relate to) helps me to understand him or her. That’s why, for example, Lexi in THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY has a terrible sweet tooth. At the same time, none of the characters is “me.” I actually answer the question, “Is Marisa me?” on my blog here.
If I had to pick one character from my books who is most based on my own experiences, it would be Ms. Ford, Marisa’s calculus teacher in WHAT CAN’T WAIT. She is as well intentioned and clueless as I was as a first-year teacher, and sometimes her desire to help her students to achieve academically makes her overlook the challenges of their lives outside of school.
6. How did you concoct the idea for your novel THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY?
The gang fight that opens the novel was directly inspired by an event that actually took place in Houston. It was covered by THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, which did a series on two teens involved in the conflict. Out of that initial seed grew the gritty world of the novel, but I also break the rules just a little to make certain second chances possible. I’ll let you check out the novel to find out exactly what I mean!