Monday, January 9, 2012

A Weekly Adventure Interview with aspiring novelist Kerri Maniscalco!

Introducing - Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri is one of the lovely people I've had the opportuinity of meeting on the illustrious twitter (@scribequotes)  a twenty-something native New Yorker, who loves to read and write young adult novels, plus she has an awesome taste in music. (Elliott Smith anyone?)

Outside of writing, you can find her at her favorite NYC haunts, like The Rockwood Music Hall, the Bitter End, the Mercury Lounge, or White Horse Tavern, supporting her friends and local musicians, or roaming the streets (& parks) armed with her favorite journal. 

Kerri is also a crazy foodie at heart, which is just another reason I love this gal! Earlier this month she agreed to do a little interview with me for the old Weekly Adventure blog, and below is the results! Enjoy!

Weekly Adventure: What is your genre of choice, and why?
Kerri Maniscalco: Speculative fiction is my favorite genre because it encompasses ALL of the subcategories I adore. Basically anything that falls under the sci-fi/fantasy/horror/paranormal/superhuman umbrella is a big YES for me. As for the ‘why’ part, that would be thanks to my ten and eleven-year-old self who hid under the covers reading everything from Roald Dahl, to Michael Crichton and Stephen King.

WA: Where can I read you?
KM: My work is out with agents at the moment and isn’t quite available for the public...yet. But, but, but I post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on my blog, Write. Eat. Repeat, and I’m a columnist for so we can totes interwebs hang in the meantime. 

WA: What section do you write for in the Examiner?

KM: I write in the Arts & Entertainment section and my "official" title is the "New York Folk Arts Examiner."

WA: On your blog it reads, "Novelist by day... rogue foodie by night." what what is your very favorite style of food?

KM: Oh my gosh, how much time and space do we have? I love it all. I'm a huge fan of fusion food, so I'm always experimenting with bold flavors. I'm on a HUGE curry kick right now (I just made curry mashed potatoes), but I love Spanish, Dominican, Mexican, and Italian foods with unexpected flavors twists tossed in. (Like pairing Thai flavors with classic Italian.)

WA: Tell me about your current book project.
KM: The project that’s currently under consideration is a YA futuristic thriller. It’s set in NYC and is about a 16-year-old girl who’s unknowingly being turned into the ultimate biological weapon by a government obsessed with achieving genetic perfection. 

WA: Does your WIP have a title?

KM: It does have a title, but I'm being all secret-like and mysterious with it... for now :)

WA: What is your “dream” project?
KM: My dream project right now is some sort of YA light science fiction dealing with the space - time continuum. (I know, I nerd is totally showing.) I’m playing with some plot ideas now, actually, and hope to start drafting it next week. It’ll definitely have a thriller bent to it, I’m a HUGE fan of genre mash-ups - especially in YA.

WA: I'm a HUGE nerd and that is one of my dreams too, meaning the writing a killer SciFi novel... *currently staring a the logos for the Hugo & Nebula awards.* 

KM: Oh my gosh, right?!!! MAJOR SWOONAGE *stares at Hugo * Nebula awards with flirty eyes*

WA: What/who are you reading right now?
KM: Holy chipotle guacamole, I read almost as much as I breathe. I’m. not. kidding. I JUST finished THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner and THE UGLIES series by Scott Westerfeld and I could gush for years. SO GOOD. Yesterday I bought LEGEND by Marie Lu and MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. Here are some of the books I recently reread and I’m salivating for more of:
I’m dying for INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows, INSURGENT by Veronica Roth, A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis, FEVER by Lauren DeStefano, MIDDLE GROUND by Katie Kacvinsky, and TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire when they hit shelves this year. OHHH and of course SPLINTERED by Anita Grace Howard, STARTERS by Lissa Price, FALSE MEMORY by Dan Krokos, NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis (which isn’t out until 2013, I think) THE VINDICO by Wesley King and WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang who was the very first person to EVER lay eyes on part of my manuscript. True story. Okay, I’ll stop talking books now. :)

WA: What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (like a favorite quote or a personal motto)
KM: That’s easy! All of my writing friends keep me going. (I’m looking at YOUUUU, Aryn:)) On the days when I hate certain scenes in my manuscript, I know I’ve got the interwebs support of everyone who is or has been in the same boat. (It goes without saying that my parents, my sister, and my friends are beyond amazing and always push me out of any funks, too.) But I do love this quote by Jack London and think about it often: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

WA: I saw that quote on your blog and loved it. It's been added to the cork board by my desk :)

WA: What advice to you have for other writers out there?
KM: Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop reading. Don’t ever stop writing. If your first project doesn’t work out, don’t quit - it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. Work on your second, third, or tenth manuscript - they will all be stepping stones and who knows? Maybe one day you can bring one of those novels out and breathe new life into it. I promise you will get there one day, you just have to keep trying. 

WA: What cautions do you have?

KM: As far as writing is concerned? Not many. I used to have a lot, but they looked a lot like fear dressed up in pretty clothing and would always whisper doubts in my ear. And doubts have this nasty little habit of holding you back. Now I just try to produce the best work I can, continuously push myself in a forward motion, learn as much as possible, and acknowledge that the rest is out of my control and that’s okay. 

WA: Do you work on more than one project at a time?
KM: Not usually. I work fairly quickly with the first draft, clocking around four weeks. (Then of course comes SERIOUS editing and rewriting for a longer period of time.) I have drafted up a synopsis or the first few chapters of a project while working on another novel, but when I REALLY start to dig deep into a manuscript, I like to completely immerse myself in that character. Otherwise there are too many voices to keep track of. (Which, err, totally sounds crazy, right?!) 
Oh! I also keep a journal to jot ideas down, sometimes I’ll think of random sentences or dialogue or titles, and I write it out and put it away for a rainy day. It helps.

WA: No, that doesn't sound crazy, it sounds like me with my characters. When I'm away too long I miss them, like I miss family or friends.

KM: ((Cuddle hugs characters.)) I like to shower them with all my love and attention.

WA: Do you have a process? (outlining, character creation, location)
KM: With this last book I had a decent idea of the story arc from the very beginning. I wrote a synopsis, then character bios to really help get a better understanding of who my main characters were as people. Also, I did a rough chapter outline which included things like conflict & action, and I ALWAYS left off at the end of an action scene so the next day when I opened the document, I couldn’t WAIT to dig in and finish. But I can’t do a major outline of the whole book, just chapter by chapter so the next day I have a decent starting off point. 

WA: Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?
KM: Life and everything in it inspires me! Most of the time it’s just pure imagination running wild and free with my projects. However, I love the History Channel and the Discovery Science channel, so sometimes I’ll hear something about a theory and my brain starts with all the ‘what if’ scenarios.

WA: If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally publishing?
KM: I’m still in the query trenches, but there isn’t one thing I’d change about the process. I have no doubt that when the time is right, with hard work and determination, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.

WA: What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment?
KM: Since I’m unpublished I haven’t had to deal with really tough criticism yet. Same goes for greatest compliment, EXCEPT there have been people on the interwebs who’ve asked where they can buy my book and those are definitely AMAZING compliments. If I could reach through my computer screen, I’d totally smother everyone with awkward hugs until they begged me to stop.

WA: Who is your greatest influence(s)
KM: My grandmother. She always tells me that if you can make someone smile, it’s been a good day and I completely agree. I am the person I am today because of her - she passed her love of reading on to my mother, who showered my sister and I with stories for as long as I can remember. My entire world is built on books, and she laid the foundation.

WA: Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter & why? (authors, non-authors)
KM: I love talking to people in general, so tweeps who actually talk are my FAVORITE TWITTER PEOPLE EVER. Through my twitter friends I find out what people are reading, great new music, who’s blogging about something awesome, etc. I’ve found some of my favorite authors/musicians through recommendations. On the flip side, I’m never a fan of people trying too hard to sell a product, so I try to avoid them. If I like you, if we share tweets, chances are I’m going to be checking your bio and clicking through to your website - if you write, you can be sure I’ll be adding your work to my TBR pile.

WA: Do you have any other passions besides writing?
KM:I went to college for Fine Art and later Communication Design (which is a mash-up of Graphic Design/Marketing/Packaging Design), so besides reading and writing I paint and draw, too. I can stretch a canvas with the best of them and I’m a GINORMOUS typography nerd.
Also, when I was fourteen or fifteen I started going to shows every weekend for local musicians, which is something I’ve never stopped doing. I’m lucky enough to have a few friends and acquaintances who are really, really amazing musicians/songwriters here in NYC and I try and get out and support them as often as I can. (Though, admittedly I’ve been SERIOUSLY neglecting having a normal social/personal life lately. I resolve to go out more in 2012 :)) It’s safe to say I have a HUGE passion for music.

WA: When did you know you wanted to write?
KM: For me it wasn’t obvious. I wrote these crazy stories and used to put on “shows” that I’d script when I was really little, and I had a GAZILLION imaginary friends. (Yes, I was one of THOSE kids.) I wrote short stories in high-school and poetry and song lyrics in college, and I took creative writing every chance I had, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I thought about doing it seriously. Writing was always something that came easily, and I never really thought about making a living at it.

WA: Do you have a day job?
KM: I do not. Nine-to-fives and I stopped talking a long time ago. 

WA: Final question, why do you write?
KM: I write because even on the days when it’s hard, when I’ve read my WIP for the BAJILLIONTH time and I hate ALL THE THINGS and I want to SMASH ALL THE THINGS - I love it more than anything. Using 26 letters to create an entire world by shifting and shaping them thousands of times is amazing. I can’t imagine doing anything else now, even if doing something else is easier and less stressful. It’s REALLY hard, but it’s so worth it.

You can follow Kerri's Blog, "Write. Eat. Repeat." here and follow her on Twitter and @ScribeQuotes


  1. Amazing interview. I hope you do tons more of these.

  2. Thank BW! This is the first of a few. I'm excited to share them with you & everyone. I've met some really awesome people & can't wit for you to meet them too.

  3. Oh my goodness, I am dripping with a crimson blush from head-to-toe! I had such a good time doing this interview with you :) THANK YOU for inviting me to participate, I can't wait to read the other interviews to come! <333

  4. I had a blast too! Thank you for being my first... ;-)

  5. SQUEEE! Kerri is so BEAUTIFUL (both inside and out--but I have proof of the outside part now)! :) Ladies, excellent interview! And I fully expect both of you to win Hugo & Nebula awards one day, and I can stand back and say, "I knew them when..." Hee.

    P.S. Kerri, do I sense a Trekie in you? I was raised on Star Trek, and still like to catch the originals when I can. :)

  6. Let's just say, after doing the 5 interviews I've done so far, I feel so inspired.

  7. TWINK-SQUAD SISTER, YOU JUST MADE ME BLUSH SO HARD! And look at your new pic, I like it! Gah, all of my writer-ly friends are beautiuous both inside and out. And TALENTED!

    Regarding my inner Trekie, I haven't watched it since I was little - BUT, my mom used to work nights and she'd wake me up to watch Star Trek and the Honeymooners when she got home. So I definitely have fond childhood memories of it :)

  8. Haha! Was that Nick at Nite?? I remember those days. LOVED the Honeymooners, too. "One of these days... One of these days... POW! Right in the kisser!" And twinkster, thanks SO MUCH for mentioning my book!

    Aryn, you always inspire me. :)