OMG it’s an interview: Keris Stainton, author of Della Says: OMG!

Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton Today I've got a special guest, author Keris Stainton. Her debut young adult novel Della Says: OMG! is hot off the presses this week and now she's on a virtual book tour.

What's a young adult novel doing on this blog, you may ask? Well I've always thought that lard-busting and writing are similar beasts – making them happen takes bloody hard work and reaching past your deepest demons and fears.

I've followed Keris' work online for a couple of years now and she inspires me with her drive and passion and willingness to chase her dreams. She might be vomming all over her keyboard at reading something so darn cheesy, but I'm a big fan and cannot wait to get my mitts on her book. As someone who carried her teenage diaries on her person at all times then ceremoniously burned them to avoid discovery, I love the premise of Della Says: OMG!

Della’s over the moon when she kisses her long-standing crush at a party – but then she discovers her diary has disappeared… When scans of embarrassing pages are sent to her mobile and appear on Facebook, Della’s distraught – how can she enjoy her first proper romance when someone, somewhere, knows all her deepest, darkest secrets?

I asked Keris about her book and a few random tangents.

Since this blog is called Dietgirl I should start with a vaguely foody question… what's your snack of choice when you're writing?
In an ideal world, it would be biscuits or nuts. But to fend off the dreaded "writer's arse" I've recently swapped chocolate for fruit. And I feel much better for it. Who knew, eh? 

How many cups of caffeine do you get through on a writing day?

Not too many. Maybe three? (And always tea, not coffee.) If I drink more than three, I start to get a bit jittery. Yes, even with tea. I'm such a lightweight. But also it's because I'm lazy, so I'll sit there for a while thinking, "God, I'm REALLY thirsty" but I can't be bothered to get up. (See above 'writer's arse'.)

I often reckon you can tell a lot about someone's personality from what they eat. What would Della eat on a typical day? Assuming she has free reign and the parents aren't cooking!

Della works part-time in her parents' deli, so she's very fond of deli food. Rocky Road bars for breakfast are not unheard of. Della and her parents actually enjoy film + food themed evenings, for example: Shaun of the Dead with spaghetti bolognaise (the spaghetti represents Dylan Moran's guts – sorry).

Keris Stainton Do you remember what your own relationship with food was like when you were a teenager? Was it riddled with angst or did you have a normal, hearty appetite?
Both. I had a normal, hearty appetite, but I worried I was fat and felt guilty about pretty much everything I ate. Quite similar to now, sadly. Although now I actually *am* fat and back then I just thought I was. I'm actually starting to crack it now – finally! – I think. I can't imagine what it must be like for teenage girls these days. Celebrities' bodies were so much healthier and more "normal" when I was a teen (watch Working Girl and be astounded by Melanie Griffith's untoned, curvy – and fabulous – bod) and yet I felt the pressure. The pressure today must be overwhelming.

In the sample chapter of Della I've read, you perfectly nail the voice and whirring mind of a teenager… how do you find writing from a teenage perspective? Is it more fun or traumatic to tap the teenage part of your brain?

Thank you. Writing from a teenage perspective comes quite naturally, which probably means I'm immature. But I'm okay with that. The traumatic part comes with remembering all the horrors and embarrassments and anxieties of being a teenager, but then the writing is great fun. And cathartic too. And I was such a rubbish teenager that hopefully I've got plenty more material for books.

I know so many of us struggle to make time for our favourite hobbies and passions. In that vein I've always been in awe of your work ethic and the way you juggle writing books with two kids, freelance work and the ever-present lure of Twitter! How do you keep to a writing routine? Any hot time management tips?
Oh I'm rubbish at this. I'm fortunate in that my eldest is at school full-time and my youngest sleeps for about three hours each morning, which is when I should work. I tend to procrastinate by blogging, tweeting, etc., which is okay because that's all good for promotion. But it also means I can excuse it to myself as being more important than really is! Freelance work has to be done for the money and then last of all comes fiction. I've been trying to reverse this for a while now, but I will put off fiction for as long as I possibly can, which is ridiculous because when I actually do it, I love it. As for tips – the only thing that's ever worked for me is doing the fiction first with a timer, even if it's only for 5 minutes. And even though I know it works, I can hardly ever make myself do it. (Sorry, that wasn't at all helpful, was it.)

When I was writing my own book I was amazed by the parallels between the process of losing a shitload of weight and the process of writing a book – they were both difficult to start, prone to false starts, better achieved with small steps and bloody hard work! You've written multiple books – can you liken the writing process to anything? I've had author friends say it's on par with childbirth so I'm curious about your perspective!
I've compared writing to weight quite recently, funnily enough. Because I did the same thing with writing as I’ve been doing with my weight for years. I read ‘how-to-write’ books, did courses, emailed authors for advice, read author blogs. I was desperately trying to work out what their secret was. But then I finally realised there is no secret, you just have to get out of your own way and do it. Which is what I'm trying to do with weight now.

And there's definitely a connection between creativity and childbirth. I'm still not sure whether I believe in chakras, but the second chakra apparently represents sexuality *and* creativity (it's situated in the pelvis and can affect the uterus). When I heard about this, I immediately associated the issues I had around my son's birth (that he was, basically, dragged out of me) with issues I had around writing (that I could never finish anything). I don't think it's coincidence that, since I worked through my birth notes with my midwife and learned that my body wasn't the problem as far as Harry's birth was concerned, I've found writing much easier and been much more prolific.

I know there's a lot of budding writers reading Dietgirl… if you could give them a Twitter-style 140 characters of advice, what would it be?

I read this on Meg Cabot's blog recently. It was a comment she got from a friend and it made me laugh because it is SO TRUE: "What the hell isa matta with you? It’s just a book, for chrissakes. Quit whining, sit your ass down, and finish it!". That's really all you need to know. 🙂

Della Says: OMG! is out now from Orchard Press. You can visit Keris' blog and read the first chapter. You can also stalk the other stops on her book tour here. Tomorrow the tour rolls on to The Mile Long Bookshelf.

11 thoughts on “OMG it’s an interview: Keris Stainton, author of Della Says: OMG!

  1. “Shaun of the Dead with spaghetti bolognaise” Fabulous idea!

    Sounds like a great book, thanks for the interview. I recently spent time with a 13-year-old, and OMG how her brain whirred and leapt and pivoted – a new idea every 2.5 seconds. I sort of vaguely remember that…

    I always compare losing weight with quitting smoking, there are so many parallels. But I like the book-writing analogy too. I guess any great endeavor has a lot in common.

  2. I so want to read this book now, sounds like todays version of Penny Pollard’s Secret Diary or Hating Alison Ashley…

    As for you, Shauna-boo – top interview. Thought of turning your hand to journalism? x

  3. Ohhhhhhhhh LaLa! Those two were my favourite books when I was a kid! LOVED Robin Klein. When I was about seven I used to write "books" that basically ripped off her plots and changed the names and places to ones I knew. Amateur 😛

  4. That comment about Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl is so damn true!! Will be looking out for the book, it sounds great.

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  6. I once heard of a workshop on how to write that was along the same lines as your quote – the presenter walked in, asked everyone who was attending to put up their hands if they’d started their book. Almost noone had, so he told them that to be a writer, they had to write, this is the most important thing. And then he walked out.

  7. Great interview ladies…. I think I am gonna have to read the book now!

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