By Alexis Convento, April 2015
This week Sky Gallery is excited to host the launch party for Brooklyn-based author Meredith Zeitlin's second book, Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me. Meredith kindly took some time to talk to us about her writing days as a kid and how she became an author. Read on to be inspired from Meredith's words!
Give us the basics - where are you from and where do you currently live?
I'm originally from NYC, but I was relocated against my will to South Orange, NJ after kindergarten. I moved to Brooklyn after college - Northwestern University - and will probably never leave. Unless I move to Australia.
Have any favorite junk food you can't live without?
JUNK FOOD IS MY FAVORITE THING. My friends make fun of me because my fridge is always empty and my cabinets are filled with candy and crackers. Cadbury Mini-Eggs are perhaps my worst vice... and anything mint chocolate. But oh, so hard to choose!!
Tell us more about you!
I love animals (especially my own cuddly orange kitties), spring weather, cool tattoos, and my "real" job: I'm a voiceover artist for commercials and cartoons. It's pretty rad.
When did you discover that you love to write?
I've always loved writing, probably because I've been an avid reader since I was tiny. (I also come from a family of writers, which doesn't hurt.) Growing up, I used to write my own versions of the books I loved, poems and short stories. I took it all very seriously, using many different colored pens... I'm pretty sure the results were absolutely terrible. But you have to start somewhere!
What are some of your good or bad writing habits?
My writing habits are all bad ones - I'm the worst procrastinator, and very easily distracted. It's a miracle I ever finished one book, let alone two.
Where do you do most of your writing?
Again, I'm a very bad example of a writer. I write on the couch with the TV on, or in bed, or sometimes I force myself to take my computer to a coffee shop and get pages done. I don't even have a desk!
What inspired you to start writing - we especially want to know about how you got into young adult fiction!
There's never been a time in my life when I didn't write, really. I was the Editor in Chief of my school paper in High School, and part of a twelve-person writing program in college. After graduation I wrote reviews and articles for various publications in the city, and started a few fiction projects, but never finished anything.
Then I started babysitting for a girl in my neighborhood who was about 11, and I'd read her books while she did her homework. The books that meant the most to me growing up were the ones I read in middle school - Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Paula Danziger - they wrote about girls who were like me: imperfect, awkward, figuring things out. They made me feel like I was normal, and that it was okay not to have it together at age 12 or even 17.
But these new books were awful! Badly written, hyper-sexual, totally unrealistic... I was shocked and disappointed. I'm all for fantasy worlds and racy romance, but there should be some books that kids can actually relate to their own lives. I decided the only thing to do was write something myself, so there'd be at least one book out there about a regular girl. So I did.
Why did you pick Greece as the setting for Sophomore Year?
I had a friend who was Greek, and she told me once about going to live with her family in Greece for months at a time during the school year as a kid. I thought that was a really interesting idea, especially if it were set now, with so many advances for staying in touch with friends back home. I started thinking about how a kid from NYC might end up in a foreign country, and who she might be, and the characters and their backstories developed from there. I'd never been to Greece, so I figured, why not?
What's your message for younger girls out there aspiring to do things that they're passionate about?
To do them, of course! The biggest obstacle to our dreams is almost always fear or laziness - and that goes for me, too. But if you can push yourself to move forward, to silence the negative voice in your head, you will be so much stronger and accomplish so much. Not an easy task, but worth it.
We have to ask - why the blue hair? It's super cute! Do you change your hair color often?
Thanks! I do change my hair often - sometimes rainbow colors, sometimes different natural ones like red or blonde. I think it's fun to mix things up; I'll just suddenly be struck with the urge to have a new hair color, so I'll do it! The blue happened a couple of months ago when I couldn't take the cold weather anymore. I was so stir-crazy and just needed something colorful and interesting. Before that it was silvery blonde, so I had the perfect base for it!
Tell us about your book launch party, are you excited or what?!
I'm so excited for the book launch! It takes forever for books to come out once they're finished - the publishing world is slow. Being able to celebrate with my friends and colleagues at such a beautiful venue like Sky Gallery is a perfect way to mark something as exciting as a new novel being out in the world. I'm really proud of this book, and I hope it finds its way onto the reading lists of girls who will love it.
We're totally in love with Meredith, and we hope you are too! Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and snag her newest book, Sophomore Year is Greek to Me, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Indie Bound.