Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What's Fresh with Rosemary Clement-Moore's Prom Dates From Hell

Maggie Quinn, Girl reporter. Honors student, newspaper staffer, yearbook photographer. Six weeks from graduation and all she wants to do is get out of Avalon High in one piece. Fate seems to have different plans for her.

High school may be a natural breeding ground for evil, but the scent of fire and brimstone is still a little out of the ordinary. It's the distinct smell of sulfur that makes Maggie suspect that something's a bit off. And when realTwilight Zone stuff starts happening to the school's ruling clique—the athletic elite and the head cheerleader and her minions, all of whom happen to be named Jessica—Maggie realizes it's up to her to get in touch with her inner Nancy Drew and ferret out who unleashed the ancient evil before all hell breaks loose.

Maggie has always suspected that prom is the work of the devil, but it looks like her attendance will be mandatory. Sometimes a girl's got to do some pretty undesirable things if she wants to save her town from soul-crushing demons from hell and the cheerleading squad.

Hi Rosemary, thanks for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Rosemary: I’ve always made up stories--sometimes written down, sometimes acted out. I worked of a tiny little theatre in a tiny little town, and taught classes and wrote plays. It gave me an ear for dialogue, and since I was writing plays that my teen students would enjoy performing, and their parents would find funny, too, it made YA a natural fit for my voice.

When I started writing Prom Dates From Hell, I was at a crossroads. I’d quit my job two years before in order to take care of my ailing father, and after he died, I had to decide what to do next. It was either: (a) go back to school, (b) get a job (gulp!), or (c) stop talking about writing a book and actually write one. I didn’t have money for school, and was terrified of looking for a “real” job in a new (very big!) city, so I gave myself the summer to write a book. I did nothing but write, and on Labor Day I sent out my first query letter, to my soon to be agent and about four others. Within six weeks, Lucienne had accepted me, and by the first week in November we’d sold Prom Dates From Hell (and a sequel) to Delacorte Press. I’m so glad I decided not to turn in that Starbucks application!

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

I write most of my new pages at night; 10 PM to 2 AM are prime writing hours. The house is asleep, everything is closed, no one is going to call. I get twice as much written in those four hours than the whole rest of the day.

Unfortunately, right now I have a new puppy, who, no matter when I last let her out at night, has to get up to pee at 6:05 AM. Plus, our house is on the market, and it’s embarrassing being in your PJs at 10 AM and having a realtor show up at your door. (I’ve answered the door for the UPS man more than once in my bathrobe, but if I’m in my PJs, you can bet the beds are unmade and the dishes undone.)

So usually I do my non-writing tasks in the morning: read blogs, answer e-mail, do any household errands. In the afternoon I either do research, edit, or write new pages, depending on where I am in the book. I take a break mid-afternoon, sometimes to take the puppy for a walk, sometimes for a nap (see above re: 6:05 AM). Mostly I play Guitar Hero. Usually I’ll go back to work (unless I’m really kicking it on GH) until dinner, then it’s TV time until I put my butt back in the chair at 10.

Please tell us about Prom Dates From Hell and what we can expect from your characters.

Rosemary: Prom Dates From Hell (Delacorte Press, March 07) is the first in a series of Young Adult Supernatural Mysteries. Maggie Quinn is the smart, sarcastic girl detective who has to figure out who, or what, is behind the eerie ‘accidents’ befalling the school’s elite. She’s also slightly psychic, something she won’t even admit to herself, and since she can’t stand the victims--which include half the cheerleading squad, all of them named Jessica--it would be easy to just ignore the things only she can see. But she can’t, so she teams up with her best friend, D&D Lisa (ex-Goth and presumptive valedictorian), and a rather hunky college student with a mysterious interest in the supernatural. Maggie is more smart-ass than ass-kicker, but she gets her girl detective game on to tackle demons, hellhounds… and the cheerleading squad.

Sounds like my kind of read, Rosemary! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Rosemary: The next book in the series, Hell Week, will be coming out in early spring 2008. Maggie is a freshman in college, and when she goes through Sorority Rush in order to write a newspaper story, she discovers a Sorority that is supernaturally successful, both in college and in their careers. Social networking, or Faustian bargain with the devil? Maggie goes undercover to find out, even if it means learning how to flat iron her hair.

I’m currently at work on the third “Hell Book,” but it’s at the super secret stage. (In other words, I still don’t know how it ends.)

Thanks again for sharing with us, Rosemary. I wish you the best with your new series! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Rosemary: Read everything: all types of books, even things that you wouldn’t ordinarily chose to read. When you’re developing your narrative voice, what you don’t like can be as important as what you do. Experiment with different genres, styles and voices and see what seems natural to you. Then put your butt in the chair and write. Keep writing until it’s not crappy any more. And never think you’re wasting your time. Every word you put onto paper (or into phosphor) is one closer to being published.

And if at all possible, have fun! It will show in your writing. :)

Rosemary Clement-Moore has been writing stories her whole life, even when she should have been doing other things, like algebra homework. Despite this inauspicious beginning, she managed to acquire a master’s degree in communication, along with an eclectic resume. Now she writes full time, which allows her to research weird subjects and work in her pajamas. She lives in Texas with her husband and too many pets, none of whom really understand why the best writing hours are between ten and night and two in the morning—but let her sleep late anyway. Visit her website,

(Check out the YA Fresh review for Prom Dates From Hell, too!)

5 fresh comments:

stephhale said...

I still remember reading about Rosemary's sale on PM. I thought the book sounded brilliant. I swear I've been waiting forever to read this book. Only two more months then I can get an autographed copy in Dallas! Yeah!
Great interview as usual, Kelly!

Kelly Parra said...

Hey Steph, thanks about the interview! I love keeping track of YA books on PM too. haha! Hope you have great fun in Dallas!

Rosemary Clement-Moore said...

I'm so excited to be interviewed by YA Fresh. Love the site, and its so cool to be recognized by other writers you admire.


Kelly Parra said...

Thanks again for sharing with us, Rosemary!! :)

alexgirl said...

Great interview. That looks like a fun book!