Author Interview: Simone Elkeles

Simone Elkeles, a self-proclaimed “housewife from Chicago,” recently hit the New York Times Best Seller List with the final installment of her teen romance trilogy Perfect Chemistry. She is also well known for her two other series Leaving Paradise and How to Ruin; her most recent work, Wild Cards, was released on October 1. This Monday Elkeles spoke at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, her last stop before she takes a break from her book tour to spend time with her family. She was gracious enough to grant me an interview despite battling the aftereffects of laryngitis brought on by an abundance of 7 a.m. flights.

Simone and Tiffany

Simone and Tiffany after the reading.

Tiffany Shelton: On your website it says you fell in love with reading as an adult. Why did you decide to write Young Adult fiction instead of Adult Romance fiction?

Simone Elkeles: I started writing adult. I wrote a Native American Historical Romance. They say everyone has a voice and it comes out in your writing. And my voice comes out very young, so when I tried to write this adult novel, my characters seemed to feel young and I had a hard time selling them. Then when I started writing Young Adult it flowed and I said, “Wow, I think my voice fits in this genre.” I feel like my voice is YA and I don’t think I could write an adult novel. I would love to try but my voice is very young.

TS: Now I’m going to ask you about the process of actually publishing your book. How involved are you with the editors and designers?
SE: For my first books I didn’t have a say. They were what they were. I would say I don’t like them and they would say too bad. But the more famous and successful you get, you can say I hate that. And sometimes they’ll try to convince you. But every time they change it, it costs them more money and you don’t want to do that so you sometimes settle because you don’t want to cost money to the publisher. Editorially, I’ll write the book the way I want it. Then my editor will come in and say she doesn’t like this, she loves this, change this. I fight for things sometimes. I fought for something in Wild Cards and I really fought hard. Then I said, “Well, whatever, fine.” But then I went back and said no, this scene needs to be the way I wrote it because it makes it more emotional and breaks your heart.
TS: How often do you go on Social Media and interact with your fans?
SE: Tons of times; too many times that it interferes with my writing.
TS: You said that you do almost all of your own publicity and marketing on top of interacting with your fans. And only about 10 percent of your time is dedicated to writing. Is it difficult to do all of that on your own while trying still trying to remain relevant in the publishing industry?
SE: Yes. And then there’s self-publishing which even major writers are doing now. It’s scary to me because I haven’t done it, but it has been suggested to me because I could make more money, etc… For now I’m making enough. I don’t want to inundate the market; I want it to be a good book. And I think with editing (the editorial department) it gets so much better. It’s scary because when things go on Amazon I don’t know if people can tell if it’s from a traditional publisher or if it was self-published. So how does an author know their book is getting out there without a publisher? They won’t know who the publisher is if it’s self-published.
I’m really concerned about the future of publishing and where it’s going. It bothered me to hear bookstores closing like hearing some Barnes & Noble’s are closing and Borders closed. What’s the future of publishing? It’s really scary.
TS: Yeah, a lot of things are going online and to e-books. And a lot of people aren’t going to the stores now.
SE: I prefer to hold a book. I definitely concerned about the future, I just don’t know where it’s going. Hopefully there will always be print books. There will probably be ten Young Adult, ten Adult, ten cookbooks—like a select few that will actually be printed. I love this job and I love this profession but I’m worried. I maybe behind the times since I haven’t self-published, but I love working with a publisher. I love seeing my books in the bookstores, on the shelves, and getting it professionally edited.
Simone Elkeles’s next novel with be the sequel to Wild Cards, set to be released in 2014. And for those who are fans of the Fuentes brothers from the Perfect Chemistry series, we may not have seen the last of them—Elkeles says she would like to write a “where are they now?” novel to give her fans one last look at their stories. To find more about the author, her books, and to find future tour events visit Elkeles’ website at http://simoneelkeles.com/.