Ellie Stanton by Aurora Zahni ~ Author Interview

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Ellie Stanton by Aurora Zahni

Genres: YA Contemporary
Published January 14th, 2014
Publisher: Beau Coup Publishing

Book 1 in the Heller Park Series focuses on Ellie Stanton. An imperfect, unremarkable girl makes a hero’s journey. Ellie Stanton needed to have a good day. The universe had something else in store. Getting caught shoplifting. Check. Dumping her lame boyfriend. Check. Expulsion from school. Check. Getting kicked out of her house and then stealing her mother’s car while she’s in a New Jersey turnpike rest stop Cinnabon? Check. The only sensible option is to run as fast as she can and never look back. Now Ellie is running going cross country to raise a little hell and maybe along the way learn everything she needs to know about life.

Interview with Doodles, doodles everywhere

We have with us today, author Aurora Zahni! 
Welcome to Doodles, doodles everywhere and thank you so much for answering all these questions Aurora. 
Here goes the interview:

1. What inspired you to write the Heller Park series?

I didn't even realize I was writing a series until I began revising Ellie Stanton. Upon analyzing every character’s story, I saw potential for an expansive multi-genre universe with odd through lines and strange female characters.

2. Can you give us a hint to what the readers should be expecting in your book?

It’s a story about an average, imperfect girl who makes a lot of mistakes. A comedy about growing up when you least expect it. You’ll laugh, you’ll yell and hopefully at the end you’ll smile. In a perfect world, the book will help you get through a tough time in your life or remind you of what you've been through to get to where you are.

3. Why do you think readers should pick up Ellie Stanton?

Well I can guarantee a few laughs, and I’ll also dare to say that it’s refreshing. Odds are Ellie is different from the past few stories you've read. Also, due to my unusual relationship with the space time continuum if I sell enough books my cats will learn how to fly and unicorns will walk the earth… again.

4. What is your favorite place to think about or to write your manuscripts?

In the shower, on the bus and on long train rides. Contained environments where I can keep my mind clear and just focus.

5. Do you decide character traits before you sit down to write the book, or as you go along?

Before. They all get expanded and refined as I write but I have them set in mind before I start. I find making music playlists extremely useful for this. I’m an avid fan of music, so I can really relate to characters based on their playlists. For instance, I know how a person is supposed to act in a situation because they like Tegan and Sara. 

6. Can you tell us what kind of research went behind Ellie Stanton?

I mostly wrote about places I've been to and things I've done, so most of the research was on bus routes, hotel prices and watching 4 seasons of Kim Possible twice. Oh, and listening to truly awful punk and visited a fortune teller.

7. Who is your favorite character in the Heller Park series and why?

I am not sure I can answer why without a spoiler, but let’s just say that a certain waitress is the most important person in the universe.

8. Tell us about the biggest challenges you face in your writing process.

Time. I work full time and save a little time for love friends and family so I’m always struggling to balance things and find time.

9. If you could give a young writer any three awesome tips, what would they be?

Don’t rush. The first book will take as long as it takes. Deadlines may motivate you to finish your book, but it won’t make it good. Take your time and get it right.

Don’t think about other writers. It’s great to have influences but don’t compare yourself to other writers, it’s not healthy.

Be honest with yourself. We all try to be supportive and think positive but when it comes to your story, be critical. 

10. If you weren't writing, what would you want to be doing for a living? What are some of your other passions in life?

I played in a band many moons ago and love music, so I would adore to do anything in the music industry. I’d also love to be a food critic. Great. Now I’m hungry.

Thank you so much for your candid and interesting answers Aurora. Congrats for Ellie Stanton and wish you all the best for the future Heller Park books!

About the Author

Aurora Zahni is a former rebel who’s trying to bring a little bit of Judy Blume and Sylvia Plath to the Twilight Generation. Over the years she has given half-assed / full throttle contributions to numerous zines and blogs, written a web movie and done significantly well in countless competitive eating events.
When she was in the 8th grade she was on the local evening news. A dead body was being lifted out of the water at a marina by the Meadowlands and you could clearly see her standing in the background watching, looking a bit excited for the camera. Looking back it may have been the highlight of her entire childhood.

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