Sunday, March 4, 2012

Author Chat: Meredith Zeitlin

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.

"Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" (Putnam, March 2012) is her first novel.

Biography was taken from the author's profile on
To learn more about Meredith Zeitlin, visit her website here

-What was your inspiration for Freshman Year? Was it influenced by your memories of freshman year? 

I decided to write the book because I was really dissatisfied by the YA books out there at the time - not that they weren't enjoyable, but I didn't understand why they were all about super rich, sophisticated girls who were drinking martinis and having sex in hotels and things like that. I loved the books about awkward girls like me when I was that age, so I decided to write one myself. And yes, it was absolutely influenced by my memories - almost all of Kelsey's adventures were based on my own. 

-Do any of your most embarrassing moments rival Kelsey’s? If so, which one(s)? 

Well, as I said, a lot of our most embarrassing moments are the same ones, though details have been tweaked slightly. The two MOST embarrassing moments of my life, however, do not appear in this book, though. One happened on the first day of sixth grade... I always liked to wear a skirt to school on the first day, and my mom had gotten me this outfit I ADORED - it was a matching skirt and top and it was cream-colored and it had these blue bicycles printed all over it. (It was the early 90s, okay? Gimme a break.) After the morning assembly, I jumped off the bleachers to go meet my friends, and the skirt got tucked in on itself and completely exposed EVERYTHING. Luckily for me, another kid told me about it and as far as I know, no one else saw... but I was so horrified that it was months before I'd wear a skirt again. Even thinking about it makes me want to cry.

The other most embarrassing moment involves me, age 14, on a trip to the Busch Gardens' Safari, a pair of lions mating, and my insane parents refusing to drive on and wanting to talk about it instead (in vivid detail) with me and my sister while a line of angry rental cars honked at us. That one might make it into a book sometime - free preview! 

-Do you have any quirky writing habits? 

Well, I usually write on my couch or in bed - I don't have a desk! My go-to music for writing is the cast album of "Once On This Island." I can't really explain why... it just is. Oh - and I never learned to type the proper way, so often I type one-handed, very quickly. It freaks a lot of people out. 

-What authors/novels have influenced your writing style? 

You know, this is a really tricky question. There are so many authors - so many very different authors - that I love, but I've never really thought about having been influenced by their styles. I just write... what I write. I'd actually be quite interested to know what people who read the book think - it would probably be easier for them to tell than me!

-If you could trade lives with an actress for one day, who would you be and why? 

Why are these questions all so hard?! Don't you want to know my favorite ice cream flavor??? Okay, let me think... I know I should probably say someone who does good charitable works and stuff like that, right? (We both know I'm not going to. Why fight it?) Let's see. Charlize Theron's would be pretty incredible shoes to step into. For one thing, she's stunningly beautiful - and TALL, which I will never be and would love to experience. I'd spend half the day trying on gowns, probably. (Yes, I am actually this shallow. But wouldn't you!?) Charlize also seems smart and cool and funny, so I bet she has really quirky, fun friends. I'd throw a fabulous party at a fabulous place that mere mortals could never get into and invite everyone fabulous and wear something fabulous and be fabulous. Can the one day be in the past though, when she was still dating Stuart Townsend? That would be... nice. 

-What was the last movie you watched? 

Aladdin. There was a Disney marathon on TV and I loooove the classic Disney films. 

-Who is your favorite fictional crush? 

You are killing me, Amber, seriously. Um... how can I choose?! Well, my very first fictional crush was Peter Pan. Oh, how I loved him! Since then there have been too many to count. Maybe he is actually my favorite, though, because most of the crushes that came after him had a lot in common with him - boyish charm, sense of adventure... you get the idea. 

-In your opinion, what are the most essential elements in any great story? 

Compelling characters and surprising plot twists. 

-Do you plan to write more young adult literature? 

Yes! I'm working on a second novel. It's not a sequel to Freshman Year, but you'll see some of the characters again... 

-Anything else you’d like to add, Meredith? 

I'd like to thank everyone who read this interview, and the blogging community in general for being so welcoming and supportive about the book. This is my first experience doing this stuff, and I had no idea what to expect. It's been fun and funny and exciting, and I'm really grateful.  

Thank you so much for joining us, Meredith! Everyone, be sure to check out her novel, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters