Friday, July 11, 2008

What's Fresh with Tara Altebrando's What Happens Here

We were going to see the world together, Lindsay and I. We were going to eat it up, whole. But it didn't happen that way. It didn't happen that way at all...
When Chloe's parents decide to take her to Europe the summer before senior year of high school, she's ecstatic...she only wishes her best friend, Lindsay, could come too. Living in Las Vegas, they have long imagined the world through the casinos inspired by great cities and have vowed to travel the globe together someday. Unfortunately, Lindsay's parents won't agree to send her along.

So Chloe goes to Europe and sends postcards to Lindsay every day. But when she comes home, she must cope with shocking news that rips her family -- and Lindsay's -- apart. And as she tries to uncover the truth about what happened, Chloe soon begins to feel that Lindsay's brother, Noah, is the one person alive for whom she'd go to the ends of the earth....

From the acclaimed author of The Pursuit of Happiness, this is a stunning new novel of friendship, love, and loss, set against the dazzling dual backdrops of Europe and Las Vegas.

Hi Tara! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Tara: Before I was a YA writer, I wrote regular grown-up fiction. And before THAT, I actually published a memoir called Been There Haven’t Done That: A Virgin’s Memoir, when I was 25. I had an idea to write a memoir about holding on to my virginity longer than most people I knew and I wrote a few chapters, sent it to a literary agent whose name I picked out of a big book, and he called me, signed me up and we sold the book to Warner. Sometimes I feel guilty telling that story since I know that the agent hunt fills aspiring writers with dread. Sometimes you get lucky.

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.

Tara: These days I only really write two or three days a week, for five hours at a time. I have an 11 month old daughter, so I have a sitter who comes to the house to play with her and I go to a local café here in Astoria, Queens. There is no better cure for writer’s block or procrastination than paying someone an hourly wage while you’re supposed to be writing. When I start up my computer on sitter time, there is no messing around!

Please tell us about your latest novel What Happens Here and what we can expect from your characters.

Tara: My latest novel is “What Happens Here,” which was released by MTV Books last month. It has been called “gutwrenching” ( and tells the story of two longtime best friends, Chloe and Lindsay, and how one of them stumbles headlong into trouble. It’s set in Las Vegas and also in Europe and there is, of course, a boy. Or two.

My characters are, like me, drawn to melodrama and big ideas. Chloe is the narrator and she definitely thinks about some of the Big Questions of life as the story progresses...because she’s passionate about it. I like to think that my main characters have that in common, that they’re passionate about life, even if they’re not thrilled with the particular day or month or year they’re having.

I have your book with me, and I'm ready to dive in! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Tara: I struggle with this question lately! I am working on something new but it is not under contract and I have not divulged the concept publicly. It’s a bit different than my previous two YA novels and I just want to see it through to the end before I open it up to scrutiny of any kind. I’m hoping to have a pretty good first draft by summer’s end.

Best of luck, Tara, and thanks so much for sharing! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Tara: Revise, revise, revise. I still find myself editing my work when I do a reading, or wishing I’d paid a teeny bit more attention to this sentence or that. The more revision you can do before the book actually gets published the less tortured you will be when it is out in the world. :)

Tara Altebrando is the author of What Happens Here and The Pursuit of Happiness. She lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and daughter. Visit her website,

7 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

Thanks for joining us here at YA FRESH, Tara, and your books sound really interesting!

Jessica Burkhart said...

All of Tara's books sound interesting! :)

taltebrando said...

Happy to be here! Thanks so much.


Kelly Parra said...

Yeah, I loved The Pursuit of Happiness! I'm looking forward to dive into WHH too!

Thanks again for hanging out with us, Tara!!

Sara Hantz said...

I'll be looking out for this book.... sounds just the sort of book I love!

Little Willow said...

Kelly, stop whatever you're doing (unless it's urgent) and read WHAT HAPPENS HERE.

Kelly Parra said...

Yikes, LW!! I will! Thanks!