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Wednesday: Interview with author Aimee Friedman

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29July 2009
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SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman

                                          

16-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science…and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she’s happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother’s estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can’t make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship…and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

 

How long have you been writing?

Ever since I COULD write! Seriously. I have very vivid memories of writing my first stories around the ages of 5 and 6, and feeling even then that this was something that gave me a lot of joy and fulfillment. I basically haven’t stopped since.

Do you have formal writing training?

I took several creative writing classes in college, which were really helpful and challenging–it was in those classes that I began to see writing as a craft, as hard, painstaking work–more than just a hobby. I think it’s good for writers to take at least one writing class, but it’s certainly not necessary. I still believe that the best writing is the kind that isn’t over-thought or over-structured.

What was your agent search like?

I actually don’t have an agent! I’m one of those rare exceptions, but that’s only because I work in publishing, and got my start as an author that way. I’m actually in the process of signing with an agent right now, and the best advice I can give to new authors on this is to go with someone you have a good gut feeling about, someone whom you trust and sense will be as invested in your creativity and career as you are!

Was there a particular incident that inspired you to write SEA CHANGE?

I’ve always loved mermaid stories–from the classic Andersen fairy tale to the movie “Splash.”  I got the idea for Sea Change while I was riding a ferry to Governor’s Island, a small island off the tip of Manhattan. I was looking down into the foamy water, thinking about all the ocean mythologies, and I wondered about reversing the traditional gender roles: what if the girl was the human, and the boy the sea-creature? From that Sea Change was born.

Did Sea Change go through many revisions? Outline? Yes or no?

I usually outline all my books, and Sea Change had a rough outline, but overall, its beginning and ending went through the most changes. Originally, I had the story open in New York City, with Miranda hearing the news of her grandmother’s death, but my editor very wisely suggested I start the story with Miranda en route to Selkie Island. And the ending I’d had planned originally was less ambiguous than the current ending, but the current ending felt more right to me as I was in the midst of writing.

Were you always interested in legend and lore?

Yes! I grew up with my mother telling me fairy tales every night before bed–not just your standard Disney fare, but elaborate Russian and Hungarian folk stories (my parents are both from Eastern Europe). I love learning about the legends and lore of specific places (such as the islands off the coast of Georgia, where I decided to set Sea Change)–it’s a rich, juicy, fascinating way of learning history.

I read that you were selected to go to a high school that specialized in science. It reminds me of your protagonist Miranda. Is there a lot of “you” in Miranda?

Yes, like Miranda, I went to Bronx Science for high school, but unlike Miranda, I was never an aspiring scientist, and I always preferred English and History to Math and Physics. In some ways, Miranda represents the way I often wish I could be: level-headed and rational. I tend to be much more of a drama queen than Miranda…in terms of characters, I’m much more like the character of Katie in my novel, THE YEAR MY SISTER GOT LUCKY, which came out last year!

The imagery used to describe Selkie Island seems so authentic. Did you often vacation at the beach as a child? Did you visit an island similiar to Selkie as part of your research?

I love the beach–must have to do with my being a Cancer. To do research for Sea Change, I took a wonderful trip out to Tybee Island, which is right near Savannah, and spent a lot of time soaking up the beach and the local flavor.

Do you feel mythical creatures are based on some sort of reality? Could they still exist? ie. Loch Ness, Bigfoot.

The tiny, tiny rational scientist voice in me says “no way.” But the much louder, writerly, what-if? voice in me says “I hope so!”

What can we look forward to reading next? Any new books coming out soon?

I’m currently working on a book for younger readers that’s a spooky story, which has been a lot of fun. I have a new YA novel in the planning stages, and a sequel to Sea Change in mind! Stay tuned!

 

For more information, visit Aimee at: www.aimeefriedmanbooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

       

 

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