Today we have the pleasure of interviewing YA author Alexander Marestaing. He’s written for media outlets such as The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins, and The Los Angeles Times and has authored three YA novels. His latest, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages, recently won an honorable mention at the London Book Festival and was nominated for a 2014 Epic Award. Though he spends most of his time imagining ideas for the youth market, he’s also written for faith based publications and has covered his favorite sport, soccer, in Europe and the U.S. for Sports Spectrum Magazine and Yanks Abroad. When Alex isn’t writing or speaking at conferences, you’ll most likely find him hanging out in California with his wife and three kids,
Welcome Alexander! And now onto our interview…
1) Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
I would have to say my biggest break came when Disney hired me to work on a writing project a while back. That was kind of a “miracle” job really because I didn’t even have an agent at the time. I had heard that they wanted to publish a new line of products, so I just wrote them a letter introducing myself. A few weeks later, I got the call that changed the trajectory of my writing career forever.
I’ll always be thankful to Disney for giving an unknown writer a shot because having that name on my writing credits really helped me move forward in the industry. I would love to say it was all my hard work and mad, Hemingway-like writing skills that scored me that job (ha ha), but in the end it was mostly prayer that opened the door and put me in the right place at exactly the right time.
2) Tell us a little about your books.
I write YA and middle grade books. I always aim to write stories that are full of hope and possibility, stories about underdogs, books that have broken souls making beautiful things from the pieces. I’m always trying to create characters that are real, honest, and relevant.
My lastest book, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages, came out in paperback at the beginning of this year. It’s about an agoraphobic teen, Caleb Reed, who starts getting notes from someone claiming to be the dead poet Emily Dickinson. Though the premise may sound a little creepy, the story really isn’t. Though it’s suspenseful at times, it’s really a tale about friendship, hope, and healing. See, Caleb hasn’t gone outside in over seven years, and each note leads him further and further from the confines of his home. While outside retrieving notes, he’s able to strike up friendships with his neighbors and with an indie filmmaker his age named Iris Elliott.
3) What was your favorite book as a teen?
I really liked S.E. Hinton’s books when I was younger. Her books The Outsiders and That Was Then This is Now really resonated with me even though the protagonists lives were way rougher than mine.
4) What is the one author, living or dead, who you would like to co-write a book with someday, and why?
I would have to say C.S. Lewis. When I was around five, my family and I went on a camping trip to the UK. And at night, after days spent exploring the British countryside, my dad would read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to me. Reading Narnia in England, where the whole wardrobe experience began for the Pevensie kids was pretty cool. So, because of that, I would have to choose C.S. Lewis as someone I would love to co-write with. I appreciate the way he creates settings full of “wonder” and the way he weaves deeper truths into his work without sounding preachy. I think that’s what’s made his work last through the ages, and that’s the kind of writer I’d like to be.
5) Describe your feelings when you opened the box and saw the first published copies of your very first book?
Getting a box of my first novel, Izzy’s Popstar Plan, was awesome. It felt as if I had finally “arrived” as a writer. But, little did I know, that that box was only the first step in a long road ahead. Getting the book printed is really only half the battle. After that box arrives, it’s time to market the book and that’s a bigger challenge than writing the book itself.
6) What are your hopes for your future as an author?
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs as a writer, times when writing projects came out of nowhere, and times when book deals fell through at the last minute. Through it all, I’ve learned that I can’t focus on the ups and downs, the peaks and the valleys. Success doesn’t come in numbers, it comes from readers being moved by something I wrote, in people taking time to write emails and book reviews, from the words of encouragement I get from strangers at the writing conferences I speak at. That’s where real success lies. So in terms of my hopes for the future, I hope I can write books that lift people up, that change people on the inside and make the world a better place. It’s a pretentious hope, but it’s my hope nonetheless.
7) What do you want readers to take away from your books?
8) In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?
Faith affects everything I do, my parenting, my relationship with my wife…everything. So, needless to say, it definitely affects my writing. I feel like there’s a reason I get story ideas, like there’s a greater purpose to what I write. And though I write for mainstream audiences, my faith always finds a way to come through.
9) What can you tell us about any future releases you have planned?
I’m currently in Europe where I’ve been working on my newest “favorite” book (the one I’m currently writing is always my favorite). It’s a realistic fiction YA novel called Fifteen Seconds of Normal. It’s probably the most emotional story I’ve written so far. I plan on posting video blogs throughout the writing process on my website (www.alexmarestaingbooks.com) so that readers and writers can see my whole writing process. I’m excited about it.
10) Favorite place to vacation?
I’m answering these questions from Sweden right now. It’s our home away from home, so my family and I spend a lot of summers here. We lived here for a year when our kids were younger, and I wrote a lot of my last novel, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages in the living room of the hundred year-old house we rent while we’re here. Sweden’s a beautiful place, warm and sun-filled (in the summer) and we have dear friends and family here. So Sweden is definitely my favorite place to vacation, and write.
11) Favorite season?
I live in Southern California, so I have to say summer, summer, and summer because sometimes it seems like that’s all we get. When my family lived in Europe, we got to experience a “real” winter, and that was way too cold for my liking.
12) Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
13) What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
I have learned to be more tenacious. Being a writer means pouring your heart out onto a page and having it rejected over and over again until that magic moment when you find the right agent, publisher, or audience. That’s when you realize that all the hard work has been worth it all. But unless a writer holds on tight to that story, to that dream, he or she will never come to that point. Author Meg Cabot, The Princess Diaries, used to keep a bag of her rejection letters under her bed. At one point the bag became too heavy to lift. So in order to write, I’ve learned to be more tenacious, to not give up when that bag of rejections becomes too heavy. I’ve learned to trust that there’s a reason that God placed that longing to write in my heart and to stick with it, even when I can’t see the finish line.
Thank you, Alexander, for joining us today. Here is where you can find Alexander Marestaing online:
Book Link: http://amzn.to/1oTNpwj
I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages Synopsis:
Agoraphobic Caleb Reed is about to step outside for the first time in seven years, meet indie filmmaker Iris Elliott…and definitely not fall in love. It’s all because of the notes, the weird and wonderful notes he keeps finding on his front porch, notes signed by someone claiming to be long dead poet Emily Dickinson. Caleb’s parents think he’s losing his mind, but he knows they’re wrong. Something’s going on outside – something strange, something terrifying …something beautiful.