Writer Interviews: Bethany Neal

Posted by on June 24, 2014

Buy MY LAST KISS here.
I wish I could remember exactly how I met Bethany, but know it had to do with learning she was an agency sister — repped by Stacey Glick at DGLM same as me. It may have involved me stalking agency siblings as soon as I signed with Stacey. Not sure. But Bethany has been a friend and great source of inspiration ever since. Her debut YA, MY LAST KISS, came out June 10th and I could NOT WAIT for it to arrive in my mailbox. I had pre-ordered it and as soon as it came I devoured it. So good. She has so much talent, is beautiful, funny, cool and just overall awesome. So lucky to know her and can’t wait for the day we meet in person. (We’ve decided it must be over good food and drinks in NYC with Stacey!) Here is more about Bethany in her own words:

1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

I treat writing like working out (which I ironically don’t do often). If you only go to the gym once a month it’s going to kick your butt and you won’t be able to lift your legs the next day, but if you go consistently it’s a lot easier.

I write 6 days a week and my daily word count goal is 1,000 words. I don’t always hit that goal, but I try to make it up by the end of the week so I’m always writing 6,000 words per week. I have a semi-seasonal day job, so when I’m working I write from 4pm to about 8 or 9pm. When I’m off work, I gloriously wake up around 9am and start writing once my brain decides to reanimate, which is usually 10ish. I write solid through the day until about 6pm.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Doing yard work always seems to snap me out of a block. Probably because I hate yard work so much, my brain steps up just to get me out of doing it. Or maybe it’s just the act of leaving my Writertorium and moving that helps. I also listen to music a lot when I can’t think of what to write next. Song lyrics tend to get my creative cogs turning.

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

I have authorly crushes on Shirley Jackson and Megan Abbott. I actually just met Megan Abbott at a signing for her new book The Fever. It was maybe the second time in my life that I’ve been starstruck. I recommend their work because I love creepy stories and stories that examine the dark side of ordinary things, and they’re both masters at building tension around sinisterly normal situations.

4. Who do you read for fun?

I almost exclusively read YA–except for your books, Kristi!–and that’s why I write it. I enjoy reading the types of books that I write. I don’t specifically follow any authors, but I definitely have a type of book that I’m drawn to. I like gritty YAs that deal with tough issues, but also involve a certain amount of teen angsty romance. There must always be kissing and angst.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

It took me a while to realize writing was my calling, so to speak. I went to college for interior design and worked as a commercial designer for three years, but it wasn’t giving me the creative outlet I’d hoped it would. So I started my own photography business, which I loved, but I had a ton of free time on my hands with that type of work. In that time, I started to read a lot, primarily YA. Eventually, I got to the point where I thought Hey, I can do this! I wrote a paranormal trilogy (that probably isn’t that good) and joined a critique group. Then I wrote a realistic YA mystery/romance that ended up landing me an agent, and I haven’t looked back since.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Believe in your writing. If you don’t, nobody else will.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

An inner drive. There are a lot of disappointments and rejections along the road to publication, and you need that something inside you pushing you to keep going when you’re feeling defeated. People ask me a lot how I continue writing after rejections or how I have the willpower to say no to happy hour so I can go home and write instead on a Friday night after a long week at day job. I don’t ever really have an answer for them except that I know I need to write and that drive comes from somewhere within.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

Anything sweet and sour and chewy, like Sour Patch Kids or sour gummies. Also chocolate.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Oh, so hard to choose! I’m a huge pop culture junkie, so I watch/read a lot. If I had to pick an all time favorite movie, it’s a tie between Romeo & Juliet (the 1996 version) and Clueless. For books, my favorite “classic” is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and my favorite “contemporary” at the moment is If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I’ve been obsessed with that book and its sequel Where She Went for years and now it’s going to be a movie in August. So pumped!

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

Hmm, well, I have a deep, decades long love affair/obsession with Jared Leto. Is that relevant?

About Bethany:

I write YA novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing! I am obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, pickles, dessert, predestined love, not growing up, sour gummy candies, music videos, Halloween, and fictional boys who play guitar.

You can find me locked in my writertorium for insane amounts of time. But, hey, insanity is fun!

My debut novel MY LAST KISS will be published by FSG Books for Young Readers June 10, 2014. Check out the summary and add it to your to-read list at Goodreads.com.

I’m represented by Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich.

Check out more goodies about me including an excerpt from My Last Kiss atMacteenbooks.com/my-last-kiss.

Buy MY LAST KISS here.

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