Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Interview with Carrie Jones

Carrie Jones wrote the bulk of her debut novel, TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND, while she was a student in the MFA Program on writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. After meeting Carrie in person at the Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators conference in New Hampshire this past spring, I expected the book to be funny. Well, what would you think with a title like that?

But while her heroine, Belle, was at times witty and snappy in her responses and internal thoughts, this is not a funny book. It's angsty and chock full of beautiful lyrical prose, and oh, so good.

So please welcome Carrie Jones!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born. I turned out to be a girl. Actually, the doctors thought I was blind when I was born and people didn't realize that I could see for a few months. Then it turned out I was seeing four of everything in a VERY blurry way. When I was a year old I had an eye operation and had these tiny ultra-cool baby blue eyeglasses. I still can't see well with my left eye but my right eye rocks.

That's probably not what you meant.

Name: Carrie Jones
Where I live: House in Maine by river
Favorite Beverage: Postum, a warm liquid cereal drink
Current Hobby: Running for political office. No. Really.
Sun Sign: Pisces
Moon Sign: Oh, you don't really want me to moon you, do you?

LOL. I adored "Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend. I thought you perfectly captured the angst Belle would be feeling. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

I was the community advisor for our middle school civil rights team when I heard about a hate crime against a high school girl whose boyfriend recently came out. I couldn't figure out how that could possibly happen, so I started writing. Plus, I had a very cool, long-term boyfriend in high school. Everyone thought we were getting married. It turned out he was gay.

Wow, that must have been difficult. So, what's your writing process like? Show us a day in the life of Carrie Jones.

Morning comes.
Tala Dog licks Carrie's face.
Carrie groans.
Tala Dog licks Carrie's nose.
Carrie falls out of bed.
Carrie crawls along the carpet towards the kitchen.
Carrie feeds the Tala Dog.
Carrie makes Postum.
Carrie drags herself up to the table (squished between the fridge and the piano) and stares at her laptop.
Carrie groans while staring at the computer screen.
Carrie walks Tala Dog.
Carrie comes back to computer and realizes she can't remember getting out of bed, making Postum, staring at laptop or walking dog.
Carrie starts writing.

Really. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day or revise 20 pages a day. If I get stuck I run downstairs or walk the dog for 15 minutes or do something else.

My life sounds so boring, doesn't it?

It's also pretty obvious that I am not a morning person.

What "group" did you hang with in school? Do you think hanging with them influenced your writing?

I was a floater in high school, I think. It was a little like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Do you know that show? My core group was my boyfriend Joe (who turned out to be gay) and my best friend Jackie (who turned out to be straight). We did everything together like Buffy and Xander and Willow, but then there were all these other groups we mingled we -- chorus kids, I'm heading to Dartmouth kids, Goth kids, jock kids, National Art Honor Society kids.

It was pretty fluid, actually. I think being a floater let me see that people aren't just defined by what group they are in, but by what they do, how they think, what they want... All those cool things. I hope that comes out in my writing.

My grade school was a lot like that, too. I grew up in Bedford, NH, home of the Meyers Brothers of SNL and Mad TV fame, and I was in a song and dance company with Sarah Silverman, the comic/actress. We were friends. Adam Sandler lived in Manchester. There was a lot of funny going on in the air. We'd talk in fake languages when we went to the grocery store. We'd sing in opera voices when walking through the parking lot at the Mall of NH. A bit of that weirdness comes out in my blog, but not so much in my book. Sarah does show up in my third book, GIRL, HERO, though.

What five things do you always carry in your purse?

My little Cellie, which is my not-so-original name for my cell phone.
My ATM card.
My driver's license so I can prove that I'm old enough to buy wine to cook with.

That's it.

Wow. I am soooooooo boring.

Wait! I remember.

My electormagnetic field detector
A picture of my first toe nail.

A picture of your first toe nail? Hmmm. I won't ask. Besides yourself, who are your fave YA authors? What are you reading these days?

Right now, because I'm running for political office I'm reading a lot of political memoirs, which is a little dull and really full of ego.

Do I have to play YA favorites? I hate to play favorites. I was one of those kids who could never be the captain of the team in P.E. class because if I couldn't pick everyone on the first round I would break down and cry.

Fine. Fine! You want me to pick one? Harry Stephen Keeler

If you went back in time to visit your teen self, what random piece of advice would you tell TeenCarrie?

"Carrie... Carrie... It's okay to break up with Joe. He'll handle it really well, I swear..."

Or maybe...

"Carrie! Do not put the Sun-in bleach product in your hair! Do you know your poodle, Shelly Belly. Imagine her turned orange. That will be you. Put the hair product down now. NOW!"

Thanks for coming to visit us, Carrie!
Readers, check out Carrie's website:

And buy her book!


  1. What a great interview. Carrie is HILARIOUS. And I'm dying to know about the toenail pic thingie. WHYYYYYY? There has to be a good reason.

    Thanks, Amanda!!

  2. I had that orange poodle hair too. It was going around.

  3. Great interview, Carrie! Thanks so much for joining us. I enjoyed your answers so much that even though I'm in Itaòy right now, I knew I needed to visit the site on the day the interview posted. Thanks!

  4. Anonymous8:45 AM

    Thank you, Amanda! You are a great interviewer even if you are in Italy.


    I want to go to Italy.

  5. then you should's the international womenà's fiction festival!!!!!

  6. Classic Carrie Jonesy-ness.



  7. jackie dolamore11:56 AM

    Awesome interview! Carrie, you are too funny,

  8. Fun interview! I've been meaning to read one of Carrie's books. Now I will!!!!

  9. Thanks for visiting us Carrie!
    And please add me to the Orange Sun-In Glow club.

  10. Anonymous11:13 PM

    That's it. We are going to have to make a poodle-hair, orange-brittle Sun In Club for all of us.

    Right now.

    Thanks again for reading the interview and to you, Amanda, for doing it... not in a naughty way of course.

  11. C. Lee McKenzie12:13 PM

    Ah yes, the old Thrifty Drugstore hair product fiasco. Been there. Have never had a gay "boyfriend," but have had gay roommates who gave me a few surprises. The book sounds delightful. Will definitely give it a read. Thanks for the interview and the good laugh.