Hannah Moskowitz is the author of the bestselling YA novel, Break, about a boy on a mission to break every bone in his body. I was lucky enough to score an interview with Hannah about inspirations, writing and...twitter.
First and foremost, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me about your novel, Break. Let's start with some basics: what got you into writing?
As a child, I used to write to make myself feel more comfortable. I switched schools between first and second grade, and I remember being scared my first day and sitting by myself and writing a story. It was always a coping mechanism, and later it became a little more.
How'd you come up with the idea for Break?
I wish I had an interesting story. I knew I wanted to write something about a guy on a bizarre mission. One evening I went to see Into The Wild with my best friend, and I started thinking about that image of Chris McCandless, surrounded by food he couldn't eat. And that night the idea just hit me.
On your website, you say your books feature "brothers, sexual ambiguity, and babies, but not cancer." Explain?
And I just wrote a book with cancer in it, too, damn. (Don't worry, it's a bit part). I feel like "issue" books are really fond of cancer. "Cancer" in YA novels is basically shorthand for "someone brave who is going to die" and I get a little bored of it. And of course that's exactly what I used it for. I'm going to go back in edits and make that character get hit by a bus or something.
And almost all of my books have brothers and sexual ambiguity...BREAK is a little short on the second, just because I thought there was enough going on without Jonah running around wondering who he was attracted to.
Was it hard writing about not only a self-destructive protagonist, but also a male?
I always write boys, so that wasn't a stretch for me. I have a much easier time with boys. And writing a self-destructive character was surprisingly easy. I think it's harder to write characters who are sad and don't do anything about it.
Was it difficult getting published at such a young age?
Mmm...I don't think anymore than it is for people who aren't young. I went through exactly the same channels--query letters, partials, fulls, requests, rejection, agent, more rejection, book deal. I followed the process to a T. I just got very, very lucky and got all the way through to the book deal bit. There are so many talented writers out there who haven't gotten that far yet--and a bunch who have, too. Young and old both.
Are your characters based off of people in your own life?
My general answer is no, but...yes. Ha. The characters are very very different from the real people, but a few of them were inspired by people in my life.
What/whom are your primary influences?
Chuck Palahniuk, John Irving, John Green, Ned Vizzini, Nick Hornby, Hilary McKay, Joyce Sweeney, Stephen Chbosky, David Levithan, Albert Camus.
What's next for you?
More books! The next one, INVINCIBLE SUMMER, is coming out sometime in Spring 2011, from Simon Pulse just like BREAK. Don't know yet if it's going to be a hardcover or a paperback, we shall see. And after that, there's another one coming, but I have no idea what or when that will be. Stay tuned. I know I am.
And in the meantime, I'm writing like a mad woman, like always.
One book, one movie, one TV show--Go!
You would not believe how long this question took me.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fight Club, Queer As Folk
Sell your book over Twitter (140 characters or less!)
A boy is on a mission to break all his bones. (On reflection, that was way to easy)
Any advise for aspiring authors?
Keep writing. Keep selling your writing like it is sex on legs, because no one's going to believe it unless you make them. And keep getting better, because once you have people watching you better have something to show them.
Thank you so much for the interview, and I can't wait to see what you have in store!
Thanks for hosting me!
Hannah Moskowitz is somewhere in the eighteen-to-nineteen age range, unless you read this significantly after she wrote it. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with far too many cats, a sister (sometimes), and several teenage boys on her couch (always). She's afraid of escalators. Her books generally feature brothers, sexual ambiguity, and babies, but not cancer. She hates camping, is a picky eater, and was therefore a very terrible Girl Scout. She's a Literary Arts major at Brown University. She likes milk more than water. Summer more than winter. Blue more than red. Love more than hate.
You can catch Hannah's novel, Break, wherever books are sold! (you have no idea how long I've wanted to say that...)