Friday, July 6, 2012

Interview: Gabrielle Prendergast

This months author interview is with up and coming novel-in-verse author Gabrielle Prendergast, who's first YA novel, Audacious, comes out in the Fall  of 2013. 

Welcome to the blog Gabrielle!!

Born Bookish: If your life had a theme song, what song would it be?

I think it would vary from day to day but Creep by Radiohead is how I feel most of the time. But maybe the Pretenders cover of it since I’m a girl. 

Born Bookish: You have two young adult novels in verse coming out in the next couple of years; Audacious in 2013, and its sequel Capricious in 2014. Can you tell us a little bit about each one?

Audacious is about 16-year-old Ella, who moves with her family to a new town and blows her plans of fitting in by falling for a Muslim guy, creating controversial artwork, and getting expelled from school. Ella makes a pretty radical decision at the end of Audacious and Capricious concerns the repercussions of that decision, amongst other things.

Born Bookish: What made you want to tell these stories in verse, opposed to traditionally?

I wanted to try telling a story in verse and this is the story that came out. Initially I was going to write something autobiographical but the story took on a mind of its own, partly because of the verse format. Sometimes a rhyme or a figure of speech that felt right for a poem would take the story into an unforeseen direction and I would just follow it. I worked with a kind of outline but I ended up not following it much. 

Born Bookish: Did you read many books in verse to prepare yourself to write one of your own?

Yes! I try to read pretty much every YA verse novel I come across, and lots of MG ones too. I read up to twenty or more books a month and usually at least a couple are in verse. I also try to read traditional poetry but I don’t enjoy that as much.

Born Bookish: A lot of people are hesitant to try reading this format, why do you think that is?

Lots of people are afraid of poetry. Poetry is ruined for people in high school I think. They have to study really obscure and inscrutable poems or poems that have no relevance to the life of an average 21st century high schooler (about mending a stone wall for example) so that turns them off. And a lot of contemporary poetry is intentionally incomprehensible and dense, because that is the challenge of “poetry.” But verse novels, especially those written for young readers are not like that because they are much more direct. It’s really not quite poetry and not quite prose. It’s something new.

Born Bookish: What is your favorite novel in verse?

I really loved Karma by Cathy Ostlere, which I read recently. I also thought May B by Caroline Starr Rose was fabulous.

Born Bookish: If you could take any classic novel and re-write it in verse, which would you choose?

Gosh, what a great question. Maybe Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? I’d like to see some gothic verse novels so this would be a great place to start.  

Born Bookish: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Mostly I’m a “pantser.” I pretend I have a plan but I never follow it and sometimes I don’t even bother pretending. Often a story will really start to occupy my mind completely so I spend most of my day kind of living in scenes even when I’m driving or making dinner. That can get a little tiring but that’s the way it goes I guess. I have written things that were more carefully outlined. WICKET SEASON, which was published in March 2012, had a very detailed outline because I wrote it under contract with my publisher (Lorimer). And I used to write screenplays that way. I sometimes do a lot of preliminary research by reading about the subject matter and writing all kinds of rambling notes. But at some point I get “the urge to push” (to coin a childbirth phrase) and then I just start on page one and go. I write in Word for Windows. I don’t use any fancy outlining tools and I have no system of keeping chapters and scenes in order. I just start at the beginning and go to the end. Crazy and messy and often ineffective but that’s what I do. Basically my first draft is my outline. 

Born Bookish: I saw on your website that in addition to writing books, you’ve also written a children’s movie. How does writing a movie differ from writing a book? Do you go through the same process?

Actually Hildegarde was the one screenplay I “pantsed.” I had a half a page of notes then I wrote it in about four weeks. But of course it changed a lot through later drafts that I did with the producer and director and there was LOTS of outlining at that stage. 

Born Bookish: What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?

I really think both The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter movies are incredible accomplishments. LOTR in particular I think is very close to being as good as the books. There’s really only one movie that I think is better than the book and that’s Blade Runner, which is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Phillip K Dick. Blade Runner is a phenomenally good movie and the book is just so so. 

Born Bookish: Do you have any other books in the works that you can tell us a little bit about?

 I have a lower middle grade book called Pandas on the Eastside, which is out on sub now. Hopefully I’ll hear news about it soon. My current WIP is a kind of sci-fi romance thing, a bit of a beauty and the beast riff, but its proving to be more beast than beauty so I’m not sure when that will ever be finished. And there’s another completed middle grade, which is “problematic,” but I hope to find a home for it someday.

Born Bookish: Here at Born Bookish, I have a segment called Breathtaking Book Covers where I post the cover image of a book that I think is stunning. Is there a book cover that has ever taken your breath away? If so, what book?

I actually just wrote a blog post about this tonight (it goes up on June 23). I’m really into what I call graphic/iconic covers. 

Hannah Moskowitz has a book coming out next year called Teeth, which has this kind of simple evocative cover. 

I’m really over the wispy girls in passive poses covers that are so ubiquitous now, and the “dead girls” make me crazy. Make it stop. I’ve blogged about that too. 

Apart from that I actually really love the cover of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick but I wasn’t crazy about the actual book. 

Thanks for the interview Gabrielle! =) 

Note: Don't forget to check out my cover of the day post on Cover to Cover, where I talk about Mind Games by Kiersten White. Happy Friday =)


  1. These are great questions, especially the one about rewriting a classic in verse.

  2. I totally agree with Gabrielle about how poems were ruined for us in high school!!! Just thinking about all my poem assignments gives me headaches, gah! That was an insightful interview, and I'm getting curious about her how her books turn out in verse! ;)


    1. I agree with both of you, haha. I hated studying poetry in high school, however I dove right into the first novel in verse I ever saw. They really are something all their own, I hope more people become open to trying them! =)

  3. Great post! I am not a big poetry fan but I definitely appreciate it! Awesome questions! They are so unique :-) These books sound interesting!!!


    1. I'm not a fan of traditional poetry either, but novels in verse are their own thing and I love them <3 Thanks, I tried really hard to think outside of the box! =)


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