About:Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, http://www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out http://www.StephanieMorrill.com
Thank you for willing to be interviewed!
Thanks for having me! This is one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done 🙂
1. Ellie Sweet is such a great YA heroine. Who or what inspired her creation?
I had just finished The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, and I was ready for a heroine who was completely different from Skylar. And I really wanted to write about a socially mismatched couple (Ellie and Palmer, although later Chase decided to throw himself into the mix – more on that in a minute.)
Palmer’s character was inspired by this boy I had a crush on in 7th grade (also named Palmer, also from Kentucky) who I’m pretty sure liked me back, but he was really popular and I wasn’t at all. The opening scene of The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet actually happened to me in 7th grade and in real life, Palmer and I became friends because of it.
2. Which novel was hardest to write: The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet or The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet? And why?
They both came with unique challenges, but it definitely took me longer to figure out how The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet was going to work. In the first draft of that book, Ellie wasn’t a writer. And Chase existed only in the first scene, and his name was Brian. It’s a little crazy to think about now!
The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet was tricky because I was still working on when the first book had come out. So I had readers emailing me about things they loved, and it was hard to not let that influence how I felt the story needed to go.
3. Chase and Palmer. It’s easy to love them both. Do you have a favorite (because I know I do!)?
It depends on the scene I’m writing! Honestly, Ellie was probably so conflicted because I was feeling conflicted! In the first book, neither of them are The Perfect Guy for Ellie. They both have junk they need to work out. In the second book, as the guys faced their personal junk, one became stronger because of it and one caved to his bad habits. I think Ellie ends up with the right one, but I still have a soft spot for the other. I don’t think his story is over yet!
4. One thing I loved about both novels was that you had a heroine who had to deal with real issues and concerns that teens face today, and yet still she managed to stay above it without the novels being narrowed down to a morality tale. Do you ever find it a struggle in your writing to balance “Real Issues” and the “Right way” to deal with them (particularly since you write for YA)?
This is a great question. I’m not sure if I have a great answer, but I’ll try! When I’m writing the book, I never have a message I want to get across. I’m never thinking things like, “I want girls to learn about health self-image or the dangers of dating people who have different religious views than you.” I think this helps me avoid morality-tale syndrome simply because that’s not what I’m going for.
And sometimes I get slammed in reviews for it, to be honest. People want me to address the “real issues” with black and white answers. But writing that way always feels so contrived to me. So I’m more about exploring consequences rather than coming straight out and saying, “This is a bad way to handle this situation and here’s what would have been better.”
5. Can you tell us what you’re working on now and whether or not another Ellie Sweet novel is in production?
I think eventually I’ll be interested in writing another Ellie Sweet book, but I need some “idea gathering” time. Even though the books released just 6 months apart from each other, I wrote the first one a few years ago, so I had LOTS of time to dream up book two. I don’t need a couple years, but I do need some time.
Right now I’m kicking around ideas for a book that would fit in the adult market. It would really stretch me as a writer, which I’m a big fan of. (Until I’m in the middle of writing it, and it’s really hard. Then I’m like, “Why did I want to do this again??”)
If you haven’t checked these novels out yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!