Hey everyone! Oh my goodness, when Corey Ann Haydu mentioned wanting to do some interviews and such on Twitter, I couldn’t refuse asking her if I could send her some questions! I am so excited to be doing my first interview with Corey Ann Haydu after devouring Making Pretty.
If you haven’t heard of Making Pretty, here’s the summary taken from Goodreads:
Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.
With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.
In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?
Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Corey. Making Pretty was such an addictive story for me, especially regarding Karissa. Thanks for writing it! This is your third young adult book! Congratulations!
I thought I would start with a basic question: What was your inspiration for Making Pretty?
I started out with just one question– what would it be like to be a teenage girl with a plastic surgeon father? I’ve always been concerned with body image issues and the pressure to look perfect. I thought having a father who is also professionally concerned with looks would be a really great way to explore my feelings about body image issues. (Sidenote from me: This is the year for all the body image books, I love it!).
I could relate to Montana right away and felt very close to her quickly, was Making Pretty always destined to be “her” story?
Absolutely! It took me a long time to “find” Montana though. I was working on the book for a couple of months before I figured out who she was. I had lots of good scenes and conflicts, but Montana was hazy. Then I wrote the early scene where Montana dyes her hair pink, and she finally came into focus for me. Sometimes you just need to see a character in a particular scene to get to know them better. As soon as I saw Montana’s pink hair, I got her.
The book begins the summer after Arizona returns from college and Montana thinks things will go back to normal between them. Did you ever think of starting Making Pretty at an earlier or later time?
Yep! I play around with timelines a lot when I’m working on my books. Originally I started much further into the story– with Karissa and Montana’s relationship more established. I also played around with Montana and Bernardo’s relationship being already established as well. In even earlier drafts, Arizona wasn’t out at college at all! I didn’t know originally how much I needed to be exploring the shifting parameters of their relationship, how big a role that would play in the book. So basically I started this story in a lot of different places, before I realized it would work best starting on the day Arizona comes back from her first year at college.
What character do you relate to most in Making Pretty?
I think I feel the most connection with Montana, because she’s struggling with the same things I have struggled with an continue to struggle with: wanting approval from parents, feeling not good enough, wondering where she belongs, struggling to accept other people around her changing, and getting in friendships and relationships that might not be the best for her. That’s a big one for me. Many many times I have gotten locked into a toxic friendship or relationship that feels great for a while but isn’t necessarily great for me. When I was writing MAKING PRETTY I was leaving behind a toxic friendship, so I really thought a lot about that– what I loved about the person, and what was dangerous about them for me. (Sidenote: Real life experience/inspiration<3)
Karissa definitely seems like a larger than life character, not unlike Lily Kane in Veronica Mars and Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. Have you ever known anyone with a personality like that? Did you originally plan to have her become friends with Montana?
I certainly have! And I often get a bit trampled by people with huge, complicated seductive personalities. I always intended to explore the friendships between Karissa and Montana, and the consequences that can come when someone who feels vulnerable gets spellbound by someone who is electric and charming and eccentric and maybe not so careful with other people’s lives or feelings. It’s a personality type I am drawn to– who isn’t drawn to charisma?– and have also gotten burned by. (Sidenote: Karissa and Montana’s relationship was so fascinating)
I noticed some parallels between Montana’s dad’s relationship with Karissa and Montana and Bernado’s relationship. Mostly in that Montana sees her dad’s relationship as one doomed to fail and sees her relationship with Bernado a lot different. They both seem to have Eros love styles. Were these parallels made on purpose? (Note: Eros is a sensual, intense, passionate kind of love.)
I’m so glad you saw this! I was totally trying to explore this exact parallel– how Montana both wanted to rebel against and mirror her father, and how she was stuck in a romantic loop much like him. I thought a lot about what it would be like to have a father who is constantly falling in love too fast, and what that might do to your own perception of love. Figuring out what love looks like and what it feels like is so much what being a teenager is about, and it gets very complicated when you’ve watched your father fall in love tons of times. (Sidenote: Success! I was right. Thank you Interp. Comm. class<3 I loved this aspect.)
That ending was certainly something! I would love to see it continue. Would you ever consider writing a sequel or follow up short story for it?
At the moment, I feel pretty comfortable with where Montana leaves off. The thing about writing for a YA audience, or about YA characters, is that there can’t really be “endings”, because they have long, complicated lives ahead of them, so we’re really only seeing a little moment in time. I try to capture that reality in my books. That these characters will grow up and carry their past with them and the reader can guess at how that past will effect them later in life. (Sidenote: A moment in time, a slice of life, all so true.<3)
What is one thing you think or hope people will take away from Making Pretty?
I hope it makes people think about how hard we try to be beautiful, and how much girls feel they need to be perfect. And how bad this is for girls, and for the rest of society. I always hope my books spark discussions that might be difficult or uncomfortable. And I always hope that they help the readers feel more compassion. (Sidenote: Yes, yes, yes).
The writer in me is curious about this next one. Do you have a “writing wishlist”? As in a list of ideas or settings you want to use in future books?
I have a huuuuuuge list of ideas and snippets in my iphone. Sometimes I’ll write down something from an article or podcast or even from someone else’s book that inspires me. Or I’ll write down an idea for a scene or a concept or a character trait that I’m interested in further exploring. When I’m done with one book, I have a whole list of thoughts and areas of interest to skim through, to hopefully find that next great idea that I can get engaged with and swept up in. (Sidenote: Same!)
I may have read and stalked your blog to find out about this next topic. On your blog you mentioned how you were a theatre kid, I notice you incorporated this into how Montana and Karissa met in stage acting class. You’re also adapting OCD Love Story for your alma mater, congrats! Would you ever consider writing a play for the YA audience?
Thank you! I’d love to keep working in theatre in some capacity and was thrilled to get the opportunity to adapt OCD LOVE STORY into a play for and starring teens. And I’d do it again, although next time I would love to start brand new, without source material. I think it’s certainly something I’ll tackle at some point in my career! (Sidenote: I totally want this play now<3)
Do you have a character in a play that you would have loved to portray in high school, but didn’t get a chance to?
Great question! I am still a little heartbroken I never got to be Juliet, because as cliche as it is, I love that play and would have loved to put my spin on those classic scenes. I also love the main character in HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, which is a challenging and profound play that tackles some really difficult material. (Sidenote: Who wouldn’t want to be Juliet? Ok, bad question).
Your debut MG book, Rules For Stealing Stars comes out next year! Are you scared to be alternating genres?
Actually I found switching genres to be really freeing. RULES FOR STEALING STARS is a little different than my YA books, and I felt really ale to explore new worlds and new voices while still being attracted to some of the same themes and tones of my YA work. It opened me up a lot, creatively, to experiment in a new genre. I found I had a different set of stories to tell for an MG readership.
You made New York come alive in Making Pretty, something that I always love in YA Fiction. Could you tell us some of your favorite places in New York?
I love Macdougal Street even though it’s so crowded and crazy now– but when I moved here fifteen years ago I lived right off of it, and it’s what made me fall in love with the city. I love Central Park, of course. And I live in Brooklyn now and am in love with the brownstones in Carroll Gardens and any rooftop I can find. My favorite place in the city is probably Murray’s Cheese Bar (no surprise there!) or the Angelika– a great movie theatre. And in Brooklyn my favorite bar is called Brookvin. It’s in my old neighborhood and I’ll take any excuse to go back to it! (Sidenote: And this is why I need to go to BEA, to explore NY<3)
Finally, I have to ask, do you have any more YA novels in the works right now?
I am currently working on a YA novel that has a slight magical realism leaning and is set in Brooklyn. It’s been an incredibly challenging process and it’s a book I actually started way back in 2011 and am FINALLY just beginning to get a real grasp on.
More books! More books! YAY! I want them all now!
Were her answers just not the most amazing things ever? As you can see, I asked her a TON of questions. I couldn’t help myself! And now that the interview is over, I have thought of at least ten more to ask! My gosh, how will I survive?
Thank you Corey for letting me totally bombard you and answering every one of my questions.<3
You can check out Corey’s bio here on her website. 🙂
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If you need more convincing on why to read Making Pretty (which comes out on May 12th from Katherine Tegen Books), you can read my post on five reasons you need this book in your life. Also, tomorrow I will be reviewing this book and most likely flailing over it hardcore, so be sure to stop back by tomorrow!