Saturday, September 26, 2009

Interview With Elizabeth Scott about LIVING DEAD GIRL

As anyone who has read my blog lately knows, I was absolutely riveted by LIVING DEAD GIRL, Elizabeth Scott's haunting novel. I wrote a book review for it last week, and I asked Elizabeth if she'd be willing to do an interview. Because she is amazingly cool and friendly, she agreed. (Yay me!!)

But a warning first.

- If you have not read LIVING DEAD GIRL yet, you probably should before reading this interview. Go on. It only takes like 3 hours to devour and then you can hurry back here. But there might be spoilers otherwise. Just being fair.

And now, onto my interview! Which was really just me being a fangirl and asking all of the things I was DYING to know about this book.

1. First things first. I have to say, the plot of LIVING DEAD GIRL is very dark and it's a story I never would have thought to tell. How did you get the idea to write this book?

Usually, when I get an idea for a story, it comes in bits and pieces. But once in a while— great while, frankly—an idea will come to me fully formed, a story demanding to be told.

Living Dead Girl was one of those stories.

I woke up the night of April 5, 2007, from a disturbing dream. I write all my dreams down, and usually they're pretty nonsensical, but this one was different.

I wrote: "Alice." It is her name but it isn't her name. She thinks of who she was as someone far away. Long ago. Kidnapped when she was ten. Five years, and she lives with the kidnapper still. Now he wants someone else. New. She'll do anything to get him off her. Knows no one sees her, staring at blue thing, plastic like water but not water, reflection strange. Blurred, featureless. Flash of teeth, grinning not grinning, hands and pain, HIM. Thinks, I am a living
dead girl.

By the time I was done writing, I knew Alice's story. I knew I had to tell it. But I had other projects I was working on, and I told myself to file it away.

The night of April 6, 2007, I had the same dream again.

By the night of April 8, 2007, I woke up from the now-familiar dream and wrote only one word:


I wrote Living Dead Girl because it demanded to be told, and I hope it speaks to you as strongly as it did to me.

2. I know as a reader, LIVING DEAD GIRL was emotionally wrenching. Was it difficult to write? What was that experience like?

You know, I get asked this a lot, and all my friend find it hilarious. Before I wrote young adult novels, I wrote short stories, and most of them were very, very dark. So it was actually the move to the lighter things--the romances that end happily, for instance!-- that was the big change for me. And to this day, the person who reads everything I write always says, "You say this is going to end happily, but are you sure? Are you REALLY SURE?"

I found writing LIVING DEAD GIRL to be intense, but it wasn't any more difficult that some of the other things I've written.

3. One thing about the book that amazes me is how well you convey this entire story with so few words. (27,000 words, if I"m correct.) How long did it take you to write the book? Did it get longer or shorter in the editing process?

Living Dead Girl actually got a tiny bit shorter during the editing process as my editor made me look over the first few chapters to tighten them up as much as possible. As far as how long it took me to write--nine days. The first and ONLY time a book will ever, ever happen that fast for me.

4. LIVING DEAD GIRL deals a lot with sexual abuse. The character of Ray is most certainly a child molester. Did you have to do any research to write about Alice's interactions with Ray? Did you read the real stories of girls who had experienced this?

It's pretty hard not to hear or read stories about girls who have been sexually abused and/or child molesters. Which is a hard--and sad--thing to say.

5. There is a spoiler warning, so I'm totally allowed to ask this. Which scene in the book was hardest for you to write?

The first three chapters. I know, weird, right? But they were so important in terms of setting up everything that they were the hardest for me to write.

6. Another spoiler question, but I have to know. What made you decide to end the book the way you did?

It was the only ending I ever saw.

7. As I writer, I know that I try to understand all of my characters - even the less likeable ones - on a deeper level and relate to them in some way. You did an amazing job making the character of Ray complicated and believable when many other writers might have just made him a straight-up evil villain with no layers. Was this difficult? Was it hard to write a character like Ray?

You know, I was so immersed in Alice's world, and in what she had to say, that the whole book basically poured out of me, and Ray was there from the beginning just like she was. Writing the book was one of those rare times when I would sit down and just type, just let the
story come.

8. Obviously LIVING DEAD GIRL is very dark and deals with some very heavy issues. Have you experienced any negative backlash from parents since the novel was published?

A little bit. There have been some objections raised in the form of challenges, and the book has been removed from a few libraries or put in the adult section in others. But overall, the support from the librarian community has been overwhelming, and I am so grateful to them for that and for all the work they do.

9. This one is kind of from my mother (who is patiently waiting for me to send her my copy of the book). What made you choose the title? We all know that its the title of a Rob Zombie song, but I suspect there's a little more too it than that.

The title actually came from my dream.

10. My final question, and a standard one on my blog. If LIVING DEAD GIRL were made into a movie - and WOW! What an intense film that would be! - who would you imagine playing the roles of Alice and Ray?

Ray: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Hands down, he's the only actor I can think of who could carry off the role.

Alice: Dakota Fanning. Same goes for her.

Thanks so much, Elizabeth!

If you want to learn more about Elizabeth Scott and LIVING DEAD GIRL (or any of her other books) visit her website!


Hannah said...

An absolutely riveting book that I haven't stopped thinking about since it came out. And wow, written in NINE days.

Great interview, thank you, Kody and Elizabeth!

Kaitlin Ward said...

These were great questions, Kody, all the things I wondered! This book was amazing, chilling, unbelievable, and so impressive. Definitely not one that you can just read and never think about again.
Thanks for this, Elizabeth and Kody!

Madeline-Rose said...

I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book, but I really do now. This book sounds amazing and something that I really want to read now.

Fantastic interview, you had some great questions!

Kirsten Hubbard said...

fantastic interview, Kody, about a very important and enthralling book. and thank you, Elizabeth.

...however, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was my junior high crush (who remembers Third Rock?) -- and now!! he'll be a little bit Ray forevermore. eek

Ami The Salami said...

Great interview, Kody. I loved the book. And, wow, even though Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems way too nice to do anything like that, I could totally picture him as Ray. Creepy...

Anyway, thanks for the interview!

Loretta Nyhan said...

Great interview. This book was haunting--it stayed with me for days.

Joanna said...

Great interview!

I just saw 500 Days of Summer with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and now I have a little crush on him! He's so adorable. But the movie also made me realize that he can really act, so I definitely think he could pull off Ray.

And I pictured Dakota Fanning already when I was reading, so...on-point!!

Great interview again!

Kristin said...

I will never look at Josephe Gordon-Levitt again. *shudder*

Great interview, Kody and Elizabeth! Thank you!

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