I am so excited to welcome Elissa Sussman to Good Books & Good Wine today! I absolutely LOVED her debut novel, Stray and am thrilled that she’s taken some time out of her busy day to answer a few questions!
1. Stray is your debut young adult novel. How did it feel to get the call?
It was surreal. STRAY had only been out on submission for a few weeks, and I had to run to the end of my driveway because the reception in my house is really bad. When my wonderful agent, Samantha Shea, told me that Greenwillow Books was interested, I think I tried to play it cool, but I was totally freaking out. Immediately afterwards, I started calling everyone in my family and managed to keep it together until I talked to my younger brother, who told me how proud he was of me and then I just started bawling. With happiness.
2. One element of Stray that I really loved was how it took on patriarchal elements and portrayed a world where men really have all the power and females have no agency. Can you speak to this world building?
I love reading about history, especially in regards to women and social customs (you can see a picture of my feminist book bench below), and I draw a lot of inspiration from these sources. The world of STRAY is inspired, not just by patriarchal cultures in history, but of the myriad of ways that same uneven power dynamic exists today. In my opinion, the beliefs espoused by the Path are the least fantastical part of STRAY. Specifically, the way that magic is treated in Aislynn’s world is not very different from the way our culture treats menstruation. Girls are taught that their period is gross and PMS makes them crazy, when it really indicates that they are capable of creating life. Still waiting for men to pull off that particular magic.
3. Who are your writing influences?
I swear, I have not gone one interview without gushing over Patricia C Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES, but that book was hugely instrumental in who I am as a writer, and who I am as a reader. I’m also inspired by authors like Margaret Atwood (THE HANDMAID’S TALE), Toni Morrison (THE BLUEST EYE), Malinda Lo (ASH) and Rachel Hartman (SERAPHINA) to name a small percentage.
4. If Stray had a theme song, what would it be?
Wow. This is a fantastic and incredibly difficult question. Since I am a musical theatre nerd, and I’ve been known to describe STRAY as a cross between WICKED and INTO THE WOODS, I’m going to cheat and chose a song from each, a mash-up if you will. And if someone wants to make an actual mash-up of “For Good” from WICKED and “On The Steps of the Palace” from INTO THE WOODS that would be pretty amazing.
“For Good” – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fR4JotwwWo)
“On The Steps of the Palace” – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGfsC7rc9ic)
5. What books are currently on your nightstand?
I’m currently reading Roxanne Gay’s BAD FEMINIST and having a major love affair with it. 2014 has been a great reading year for me and one that really illustrates how varied YA literature is. Some of my favorites are Brandy Colbert’s POINTE, Tess Sharpe’s FAR FROM YOU, Genevieve Valentine’s THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB and Sherri L. Smith’s FLYGIRL
About Elissa Sussman:
Elissa Sussman received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and in a previous life managed animators and organized spreadsheets at some of the best animation studios in the world, including Nickelodeon, Disney, Dreamworks and Sony Imageworks. You can find her name in the credits of THE CROODS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and TANGLED. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their rescue dog, Basil. Stray is her first novel.
NOW for the contest! One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of Stray as well as a paperback of Entwined by Heather Dixon. US Only. Must be 13 or older. Please use the rafflecopter. I will not share your private information.