Monday, June 22, 2020

Elle Cosimano

Elle Cosimano's debut thriller, Nearly Gone, was an Edgar Award finalist, won the International Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was awarded the Mathical Book Award recognizing mathematics in children’s literature. Her novel Holding Smoke was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and the International Thriller Award. Her books for young adults have appeared on several statewide school and library reading lists.

Cosimano's new novel is Seasons of the Storm.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The original working title for this book was When We Wake, but the entire team (myself, my agent, and my editor) felt this title was too soft for this story. This is a tale of adventure—a story of forbidden love and rebellion, featuring high-speed chases and high-stakes battles. We needed a title that hinted at the danger of the world and the urgency of the plot. My publisher came up with Seasons of the Storm, and we all immediately agreed the title was perfectly suited to its task.

What's in a name?

Names play a critical role in Seasons of the Storm. Each character’s name is self-chosen, reflecting their new identity once they are turned from humans into the immortal embodiments of their assigned season on earth. The Seasons each possess a specific elemental magic, and they are grouped by their creators to live with others of the same nature in order to foster competition between those that are different. My main character is a Winter named Jack Sommers. His chosen name not only hints at his elemental magic (a nod to Jack Frost), but also reveals a glimmer of his defiant personality—a character trait that drives him to rebel against his creators when he falls in love with a Spring he’s forbidden to be with.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

As much as I loved writing as a teen, I never imagined writing as a career. In my mind, novelists were celebrities, lumped together in the same box with actors and film producers and famous musicians. I never would have dreamed it could be possible to become published at all. So if anyone had told teen-me that Seasons of the Storm—the kind of high-stakes, magical urban fantasy I would have loved reading as a teen—would become my fifth published novel (with three more on the way), this would have been a mind-blowing revelation for me.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I struggle most often with beginnings. The perfect opening line, the gripping set up of an opening scene ... these are always the most challenging parts of any story for me. When revising, more often than not, I am rewriting entire chunks of the earlier chapters, making sure I’ve laid the groundwork for the rest of the story. On the other hand, endings have always come easily for me. Maybe it’s the mystery novelist in me, but there’s nothing I find more gratifying than braiding all the loose threads together into show-stopping reveals and a satisfying conclusion. My beginnings tend to be slower, taking time to build, the stories usually picking up speed as they race, tires squealing, toward nail-biting finishes.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There are elements of my own self in every one of my characters—my heroes, my secondary characters, and even my villains. I have to feel some degree of connection with each of them in order to write them, to understand their motivations, needs, and goals. Sometimes, this means exploring parts of my own teen experiences—both joyful and painful. Often, it means tapping into the deepest, quirkiest parts of myself, and finding the universal truths in them so I can project those truths into my characters. We’ve all experienced loneliness, loss, love, betrayal, rejection, and desire. Hints of my own triumphs and scars are often written into the hearts of my characters.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I derive a lot of inspiration from music. Every book I’ve written has been created to a running playlist of songs that put me in a specific mood or headspace to create that singular story. The playlist for Seasons of the Storm was particularly special in that each character became a Season at a different point in time, and their musical tastes reflect their unique generation. For instance, Julio Verano was a surfer from southern California in the 1980s when he became a Summer. His counterpart, Amber Chase, became an Autumn in the wake of Woodstock in the late 1960s, and the songs that imprinted on her heart were very different from Julio’s or Jack’s. I found myself creating vastly different playlists for each Season, and those playlists kept me grounded in the heads and hearts of each character.
Visit Elle Cosimano's website.

--Marshal Zeringue