I’m so excited today to welcoming Nova Ren Suma, the author of the beautiful and haunting Imaginary Girls, to Not Enough Bookshelves.

Imaginary Girls is one of my favourite books of 2011 and definitely the most original. You can read my review here. Nova was kind enough to take some time to answer my questions. I hope you guys enjoy the interview and pick up a copy of Imaginary Girls.

1) Imaginary Girls is such a beautiful, haunting and amazing story, but I’m having trouble describing it to people without spoilers. Can you share your elevator pitch?

Thank you so much! First, let me say that elevator pitches intimidate me and if I were ever trapped in an elevator and asked what my novel was about I can’t promise I wouldn’t panic and stab all the buttons and flee at the closest floor. That said, this is what I say when asked in person and I can’t escape:

Imaginary Girls is the story of two sisters, their strong bond, and the dead body that threatens to break it. I like to call the book contemporary with a fantastical twist—and I try not to say too much more than that.

2) Your style is extremely distinctive (loved Chloe’s voice) and I can’t think of anything like it. Who are your literary influences?

I’ve always found myself drawn to strong first-person voices. When I was first finding my voice as a writer, I was devouring books like Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys, A Feather on the Breath of God by Sigrid Nunez, The Last Life by Claire Messud, and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (which is really collective first-person, and wow, what a novel!). I think what I read and admired in those days really shaped my own voice. I was first inspired to write YA by the author Laura Kasischke, whose novels Boy Heaven and Feathered completely took hold of me and—in leading me to stop writing adult fiction in favor of YA—effectively changed my life.

3) You’re very open and honest on your blog about how hard your journey to publication has been, aside from never, never, never give up, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring writers?

I would tell aspiring writers the thing I refused to listen to myself: Don’t be afraid to give up a manuscript and start over. I mean start over entirely. From scratch. Even if you’ve devoted five years to writing it and you want to try every literary agent on the planet with it until there are only ants left. I say this only because I had a hard time letting go. I felt in my gut that I should, but I didn’t want to admit it. It took me years to realize that the novels I’d written were not working and I could, in fact I should, try a new story.

It’s hard to give in when you’ve spent so much time on something, but sometimes it takes a few tries before you find your stride. The truth is, I’m glad—relieved, even—that there are 845 unpublished pages living under my couch. It’s okay that those novels never made it. Imaginary Girls is what I wanted to write all along.

4) Ruby is such an amazing character, so vivid and compelling. Did you ever consider telling the novel from her point of view, or writing a duel narration? And was it hard to find what makes her tick or was she one of those characters who just was?

I’m completely taken by Ruby. She’s surely one of those characters who just walks out onto the page and takes over. I couldn’t stop her, and the story took flight from what she did.

I love trying to imagine what Ruby’s really thinking and what she means by what she does—but so much of the way I see Ruby is through her little sister Chloe’s eyes. Chloe who adores her. Chloe who believes almost anything she says. It’s important that Chloe tell this story because her vision of Ruby is what gives her so much magic. I never wanted to write this novel from Ruby’s perspective. That would have taken the mystery away.

The 5 quick currently questions

a) Currently reading? I’m just starting this novel called Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey that comes out from HarperTeen this fall. I try to avoid reading too much fiction when I’m drafting, but I’m having a hard time putting this one down and I may not be able to wait.

b) Currently watching? I’m in the midst of Netflixing all available seasons of Friday Night Lights, which I’m shocked that I like so much, since I have no interest in football. I think that speaks to the skill of the series writers that someone like me, who avoids sports at all costs, could be so drawn into the lives of these characters. I could learn from this.

c) Currently listening to? The Xx. I can’t stop playing them while I write my new novel.

d) Currently eating? As I answer this question, I am battling a craving for some Thai food.

e) Currently wishing for? A searing bolt of inspiration so overpowering, I’ll look up a few days later and my whole manuscript will be finished.

And because I love this book so much, I’m giving away a copy. Just leave a comment below to be entered. I’ll randomly pick a name on the 30th July.

The giveaway is open to where ever the Book Depository ships.

You can find out more about Nova Ren Suma and Imaginary Girls at her website and her wonderful blog, Distraction No 99.

Imaginary Girls is currently on a Blog Tour ~ the tour details can be found here, secrets are being revealed and giveaways hosted so check it out!

Thanks again to Nova for answering my questions and thanks to all of you for reading 😀

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