Simone Elkeles is a young adult author of four novels: Perfect Chemistry, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, How to Ruin my Teenage Life, and Leaving Paradise. Her latest novel, a sequel, Return to Paradise, will be available this September. Simone has been on the New York Times bestseller list, the USA Today bestseller list as well as won a RITA award and the Chick Lit Writers of the World Contest. In addition, she was voted the Illinois Author of the Year by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Science in Industrial Relations at Loyola University Chicago. She was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. In her spare time, she spends time with her two children as well as mentors teens and adult authors. Simone has given inspiration talks at schools, libraries, and conferences.
1) How long have you been a writer?
I have been a writer since 2000, but I have been published since 2005.
2) How did you get started in publishing?
It was a very slow and sometimes heart-wrenching process. I guess it all started to go uphill when I won the Chick Lit Writers of the World contest. I submitted to lots of agents but got rejected. Finally an agent who loved How to Ruin a Summer Vacation signed me. She sold my first three books before I split from her and found my current agent who was able to take me to “the next level”.
3) How long did it take you to publish your 1st book?
It took me five years to get published. I started writing in 2000 and sold my first book in 2005 (it wasn’t released until 2006, but I signed the contract in 2005). It took me five years to get an agent, but she sold my book within two months.
4) Who is your favorite author?
I didn’t read a lot when I was a teen, but I do remember liking Judy Blume’s Forever because it was edgy and sexy…it was a coming of age novel about a girl falling for a boy and losing her virginity. I remember being in 6th grade when all the girls at my school were obsessed with it. Judy Blume was definitely a pioneer in writing the reality of teen life.
5) What is the best author experience so far?
I have had so many great experiences so far, but I would say one of my favorites was going to Hollywood and filming my book trailer for Rules of Attraction. Alexander F. Rodriguez from the Katy Perry Hot and Cold video played my character Alex. I thought he did such a great job bringing Alex’s personality to life! Check it out and leave a comment to let me know what you think! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhEx0kaUlrU
6) What do you when you’re not writing?
My kids play hockey and do scouts, and we all recently took a family vacation. So, really, my first job is just to be a completely boring and uncool soccer mom.
7) Have you ever had writer’s block? What to you do?
I do get writer’s block, but I don’t LET myself get writer’s block, if that makes sense. Of course, I have times when I don’t feel particularly creative, but if I am under deadline, I make myself write. Even if I end up throwing it all out, at least I kept writing. Usually, that helps me get past the block and back into my groove.
8) Do you have any book promotion tips?
I am very involved in online social networking. I have Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, a discussion group, and a website. www.simoneelkeles.net
I also make book trailers for most of my books, which you can connect to through my website. I have even made it possible to download the videos to your ipod. I think all of these have helped my book sales. I just try to make myself as accessible as possible to my fans!
9) Tips for other aspiring writers:
My first piece of advice is this: finish a book! The reason there aren’t more published authors out there is because most people never finish their book. Secondly, once you finish the book, join a critique group where you can get some writing advice from your peers. Finally, never give up! It took five years for me to get an agent and get published.
10)Tell me about any current or upcoming books:
I have Return to Paradise coming out in September. It is the sequel and conclusion to Leaving Paradise. Maggie and Caleb have spent some much-needed time apart, but a twist of fate brings them back together again. Next spring, I have the 3rd Perfect Chemistry book coming out. This time Luis is the hero. Luis has been a “good kid” his entire life, but Luis learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?
11)Where can I purchase a copy?
Anywhere you can buy new books!