Her debut was many books ago, but she’ll always be a Deb. Today we welcome YA author Deb Caletti.
Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and a National Book Award finalist whose books are published and translated worldwide. Her first novel was The Queen of Everything (Simon & Schuster, 2002),of which a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly proclaimed: “This marks Caletti as a writer to watch.” Although written for adults, its coming-of-age themes gained it acclaim as a YA book. It made the cover of the esteemed review journal The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books (the first trade book to do so in the journal’s history), and then was chosen for PSLA’s Top Forty of 2003 and the International Reading Association’s Young Adult Choices for 2004. It is currently in its thirteenth printing. Deb’s second book, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Kirkus called it, “tender and poetic,” and the book earned other distinguished recognition, including the PNBA Best Book Award, the Washington State Book Award, and School Library Journal’s Best Book award.
Deb grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and earned her journalism degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. When Deb is not writing books or reading them, she is a painter and a lyricist, and speaks widely to audiences on writing and life as an author. Deb lives with her family in Seattle.
And now she’s here to answer some questions for us!
What’s the riskiest thing you ever did and how did it work out for you? The riskiest thing was attempting to make a living by being a writer. As John Steinbeck said, “The profession of writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable profession.” But I’m so glad I did risk it and put in the years of hard work to make it happen. There’s a sense of knowing I’m in the right place for me. Writing fits me like nothing else could.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in high school? A club that I was president of lost a bet with another club, and I was made into guacamole in front of the whole school during an assembly. I’m pretty sure guacamole doesn’t have eggs in it, though.
If you could live anywhere for a year, where would it be? I’d live in a houseboat again, on Lake Union in the middle of Seattle. It’s all magic – seaplanes, twinkling city lights, ducks cruising by, sprinkled with an assortment of wacky neighbors and charming boats, barges, and kayaks. You don’t drive these kinds of houseboats – think “Sleepless in Seattle,” a home on top of water. I’m aiming to eventually live there again permanently.
Are you a sports fan? Who’s your team? Is reading a sport? Actually, sports and I have a rampant distrust of each other, ever since those days in P.E. where I tried to bounce a basketball and walk at the same time. Standing at home plate waiting/hoping/pleading with God to hit the ball was outright cruelty. Hurdles in track were nightmarishly high, too, and the P.E. teachers then had second jobs as sadistic prison guards. The only thing I could manage with any skill was badminton and the V-sit in gymnastics. Now, though, any sports I like revolve around the water – swimming, boating. My son races sail boats, and any team he’s part of on any given race day happens to be my favorite.
Do you make plans in advance when you travel, or just hope for the best? I’m a planner when it comes to trips, mostly because all that dreaming beforehand is part of the fun. I like it best when the place I stay is an experience in itself. I’ve stayed in a tugboat, in a castle with a moat, in a hotel that sits in the old Medici garden. I hope to stay in a lighthouse someday soon, as one features prominently in the book I am working on now, STAY, which will be released April 2011.
What’s the coolest writing-thing that’s happened to you since you sold your first book? Ah, easy – being a finalist for the National Book Award. What an honor. It still gives me shivers. I’m still in shock about it and probably always will be.
Go on, give us some writing advice. You know you want to! I worry about writers, because we are an anxious bunch in an impossible business. I hear the worry all the time, as well as the search for a magic key that will make it all (whatever “all” is) happen. Writers fret about finding time to write and writer’s block and finding agents. They worry about how to write and what to write. But I believe that if writing is truly who you are rather than some means to a different end, you will of course find solutions to all of these problems. You will find the answers and figure it out and become good enough over time to become who you are. You just will. So, relax. Work hard, but relax. And if it’s not who you are? That’s okay, too. Perfectly fine, actually. There are a gajillion places to put your drive and talents and energy. Don’t forget – there’s always horse racing.
Thanks so much Deb!