Author Tales: Jordanna Fraiberg

Jordanna Fraiberg is the author for this Thursday’s Author Tales! Jordanna is the author of In Your Room, which will be released October 16, 2008. You can check out my review of In Your Room, here. Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be entered in the Monthly Contest. The official post for the Monthly Contest of October will be posted tomorrow!

>What were you like as a teen? Did it have any influence over your characters in In Your Room?

Well, I wasn’t like Molly or Charlie as a teen, but there are aspects of me in both of them. I grew up in Montreal and was a competitive squash player, but I didn’t go to a particularly athletic school so it always felt like I had a divided life. There was my life at school, and my squash life, which included training at the club after school, and traveling to tournaments on weekends. It sometimes felt like I had a secret life at the club, where I was often the only teen (except for my older brother) hanging around the courts trying to pick up a game. By the time I was fourteen, I was the best female squash player in Quebec (the province I grew up in) so I ended up training with the men, almost all of whom were at least ten, sometimes twenty years older than me. I also was the national champion, which was amazing, but I often felt like it was only just one part of me, so as a result, I felt like I didn’t quite fit wherever I was. I think that’s one of the main themes at work in the book. Both Molly and Charlie don’t quite feel like they fit in their lives, they don’t feel fully understood – until they meet each other.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I think in some way I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but since I was so focused on playing squash, I never had time to write or really express that side of me. I started competing when I was ten and retired from the pro tour when I was 23. I loved competing, I loved immersing myself in the training, I loved pushing myself to the point where everything else dropped away and I was in the zone. But, even with all that, I think part of the reason I always felt like something was missing was that I wasn’t expressing my creative side. My mother has always been an inspiration – she’s a classical concert pianist and has always stayed true to her passion. I will also always remember something one of my advisors in graduate school at Oxford, Bernard O’Donoghue, an Irish poet, said to me: “It’s never too late to write. I only started when I was 30.” (On a side note, our conversation was briefly interrupted because he got a call informing him that one of his best friends, Seamus Heaney, had just won the Nobel Prize for literature. Holy Cow.) I was 25 at the time, and besides a few half-start stories and copious journal entries, I had never finished anything. What he said has always stayed with me, because it gave me hope that it really wasn’t too late.

What would you consider the best thing about being a writer?

I love being able to lose myself in my characters, to be able to create entire emotional worlds and to live with them. The feeling is actually not all that different from the feeling I used to get when I was “in the zone” competing, or running (another former obsession). You just lose yourself and feel really connected, is the best way I can describe it.

Where did you come up with the premise for In Your Room?

Oddly, I came up with it during the first five minutes of watching the first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. I hadn’t yet read the books (I was actually watching the movie when I was a studio exec and we were about to hire the film’s director for another project) and I wondered how they were going to pull off the movie with all four main characters apart. Then, boing! The idea came to me, just like that.

Any advice for aspiring writers out there?

People say: read and write. Yes, this is true. Reading and writing helps a ton at every stage of the process. But, in my experience, it’s just as important to live, to have full experiences, to do the things that you love or sometimes the things that scare you. It’s these things that you ultimately will draw on as a writer, whether consciously or not. So, sitting at your desk and nothing’s working? Go out for a walk, go to a museum, go see a movie, do whatever it is that motivates or inspires you.

Why write for Young Adults?

I seem to always want to write about teens or young adults because, in many ways, it’s the time in my life I remember most. Not so much the day-to-day details of that time, but the way I felt. I think that we experience so many firsts at that time, too – first crushes, first loves, first deaths – which make these experiences all the more lasting and defining.

Are you planning on writing anymore novels?

Yes! Many more. I’m at work on a new YA book for Razorbill, which will be out in 2010. All I’ll say now is that it’s different from IN YOUR ROOM but will still have a juicy love story!

I saw that you were a Hollywood film executive, are there any other surprises about yourself that you would like readers to know?

Hmmm…let’s see. I mentioned that I used to play squash. Have I mentioned that it was my life? As in, I woke up and trained, went to class, trained after school some more, clocked many hours getting iced, massaged, ultra-sounded on the physical therapist’s table. All this to say that after winning my first national title in college sophomore year (same day my big bro won the men’s division! On my 20th birthday!), I felt like there was more I wanted out of college than just winning two more titles. So what did I do? I applied to a program, got in, and come fall of my junior year, I packed up for four months and went to India. That’s right. INDIA! I was literally in tears (in secret, of course) for the first few days, asking myself “what have I done?!!”, but once I settled in, it was BY FAR, the best experience of my life. It’s also where I was bitten by the creative bug again.

Do you have any television shows you watch obsessively or an all time favorite movie?

I have many, many shows I watch. Since I never had all that much time to watch TV when I was growing up, let’s just say I’ve more than made up for lost time. I obsessively watch the news (I heart Rachel Maddow), and here are some of my regular shows: Gossip Girl, Heroes, Lost, 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy (I’m a loyalist, even though the show has gone down hill in my opinion), Project Runway, Entourage (although it sometimes gives me bad flashbacks to my days as a film exec).
As for movies, I have too many to list and I freeze just thinking about it (you see with TV it’s easy since I just have to look at my recordings list!)

What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Allegra Goodman’s fabulous, thought-provoking, insightful book, The Other Side of the Island. WOW. I. could. Not. Put. It. Down. I had to literally hide from an arriving guest so I could finish the adrenaline-filled last pages of the book without stopping!

Thanks Jordanna!! For more information on Jordanna and her debut novel In Your Room, visit the following links: