I'm thrilled to have the honor of interviewing Dawn before THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR releases from Flux on October 8th! AND to be able to give away a signed copy of her book!!! (SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!) Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she's publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.
Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn't know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez's web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.
Q: So you list your previous background as: TV news producer, online fashion writer, and PR director. How did those jobs play into the writing of THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR?
When I was in TV, I had the chance to do some on-air work, photojournalism, editing, producing, you name it. I definitely drew on all of that experience to write TCRF.
Really, every job I’ve had involved some type of writing—which was a huge benefit as I wrote this novel.
Q: When did you start writing fiction and how did you come to be published?
A: I’ve always dabbled in fiction. I have notebooks and scraps of paper all over the place with: story ideas, interesting words, character names, and even pieces of dialogue. But I never quite believed I could do it, so I took a safe route (in my mind) with journalism and business writing.
Once my son was born, I started reading more. I was also singing to him, doing artwork—things that got the creative juices flowing again, and the writing just came to me. I spent over a year simply reading and writing. Then I got serious and joined SCBWI and The Loft in Minneapolis. I went to classes, seminars, conferences, and found critique partners.
During this period, I wrote a few manuscripts that were terrible. But soon I found an idea that stuck. It took me about a year to finish it. And after querying about 20 agents—editing my manuscript the entire time—I had an offer for representation. Sadly, that story didn’t sell. It was an issue book at a time when issue books were falling out of favor. So I dusted myself off and wrote another book. That second book became THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Again, it took about a year to write and revise. Thankfully, it sold within a few months. And here we are!
Q: Where did the idea of The Cutting Room Floor come from?
A: The character of Riley was a secondary character in my first manuscript. I loved her and wanted to write a love story for her—which I knew would be tricky because she was questioning her sexuality.
As I began to build her world, Dez was born and he started taking over the story. I fought him for a long time, until my agent said, “Write a few chapters in Dez’s voice and see what happens.”
Well, he only became more difficult at that point. He wanted to be heard, but I still only wanted to tell Riley’s story. Then my agent asked me an important question, “Are you sure it isn’t Dez’s story too?”
It was. And once I realized that, the words started flowing.
Q: What is it about Dez and Riley’s story that fascinated you?
A: I think the most compelling piece of the story is the different ways Riley and Dez go about finding love.
Q: If you could sum up the theme of your story in one word, what would it be?
Q: Anything else we should know about the book?
A: Hmmm. Well, it’s scary and suspenseful, but also warm and sweet. And there’s this film element that takes on a life of its own.
Q: What’s your writing process?
A: I would not recommend this, but … I write the open of a book over a dozen times before I can move on. I need to get the first thirty pages right or I’m paralyzed. This is where I find the voice, the tense, the point of view, setting, and character motivation. Once I have that down, I can move on. However, the next piece I write is the ending. Then I go back and fill in the middle. And then I revise until you can’t even recognize the manuscript from the first draft.
With The Cutting Room, however, the opening pages are almost exactly as I wrote them in the draft form.
Q: Any hints about your next book?
A: It is another creepy thriller. And it may, or may not, involve a hostage situation.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
A: Reading, mostly. My life over the past five years has been very imbalanced. I’m reading and writing ninety percent of the time. I also love to travel with my family. Our last trip was to Vancouver and I fell head over heels for that city
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Judy Blume, of course. S.E. Hinton is amazing. I love Laurie Halse Anderson and Sherman Alexie. A.S. King and Sara Zarr also rock my world. I really could go on forever!
Dawn Klehr began her career in TV and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.
Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog. The Cutting Room Floor is her debut YA novel. a Rafflecopter giveaway