This week for Ask the Author I'm bringing you the author of Playlist for the Dead, a YA Contemporary, Michelle Falkoff. I'm super excited to read her book hopefully very soon, and I'm even more excited that she took her time to answer a couple of questions.
Here is her book and the interview:
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Published: January 27th 2015 by HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 288 Pages (Hardcover)
A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.
Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own. (goodreads.com)
Interview with Michelle Falkoff
1 – Describe Playlist for the Dead like a twitter pitch – 140 characters.
Teenaged boy's best friend commits suicide and leaves behind a playlist of songs to help him understand what happened.
2 – What sparked the idea of writing a YA novel which deals with teen suicide and its effect on those who were close to the one who committed suicide?
I'd read some books I really loved in which boys lost girls they'd been interested in, and I wanted to explore how it would be different to lose someone who was a friend.
3 – How did you prepare yourself to write a story like this? Did you simply try to imagine how it must feel like when something like this happens or did you talk to people who had to deal with someone close to them committing suicide?
For me, it's usually a process of researching the surrounding circumstances and then imagining the specifics with respect to the characters. This means I did a lot of research on suicide generally, but I didn't read a lot of personal narrative because I wanted to be true to Sam's experience, as someone who'd lost someone.
4 – What was the process of deciding on the playlist which Hayden left for Sam? How hard was it?
It was so hard, but so much fun! I started out looking for songs that dealt with suicide and death, but they weren't really working for me--they were too dark or too on-the-nose; they didn't really hint at anything specific to Hayden. I ended up looking for songs that fit the theme of whatever I was trying to explore in each chapter, themes that would have meant something to Hayden. Sometimes they were supposed to trigger memories for Sam; sometimes they were signals from Hayden that there were things going on in his life that Sam didn't know about.
5- How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal? And how many queries did it take until you found 'the one'?
I worked with a production company, so thankfully I didn't have to deal with the business side of things very much. From our first conversation about the book until it came out was about two-and-a-half years, though I didn't spend all of that time writing.
6 – What do you think about the final cover? While writing, did you ever imagine how a cover might possibly look like?
I had not imagined the cover at all--for some reason I had no idea what I thought it should look like, except that I was hoping it would be somewhat abstract, just because I like abstract things. When I got the first version of it I absolutely loved it, and though it went through some edits, it only got better.
7 – What do you like most about YA?
I love that it tends to be honest and raw and unfiltered. And I love that the category is broad enough to encompass so many genres--there's really something for every kind of reader.
8 – Which do you prefer: trilogy or standalone?
Standalone, but that's because most of what I read is realistic (or semi-realistic) and doesn't lend itself to serialization as well.
9 – If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
I suspect I'd hide until someone came and killed me. Though I like to think I'd set up some traps, just in case. Does that mean flight?
About the Author
Michelle Falkoff's fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law.