Interview with Arlaina Tibensky

Arlaina Tibensky is the author of YA 2011 Summer debut, And Then Things Fall Apart. For my part of the blog tour, I've interviewed Mrs. Tibensky about herself and her amazing novel. Without further ado, on to the questions!


Describe your book in one sentence. Sylvia Plath and an old typewriter usher an angsty reluctant virgin
through the worst summer of her freaking life.  Luckily she has plenty of time... and plenty of paper.
OK, technically that’s two sentences, but what’s an extra sentence among friends?

What gave you the inspiration for And Then Things Fall Apart? When I was 15 years old I got the chicken pox the summer my parents were splitting up.  I always wanted to write about that time because it was as if everything was happening at once.  I also feel, as an adult looking back, that the month I stayed at my grandma’s house had a profound impact on how I see the world and me being a writer.  So one day I made a playlist, sat down, and started typing as if I were Keek.  What’s so insane is that Keek is totally me and entirely not me at all.  When I was writing it, I felt like I was channeling a ghost or something.  Even now, months after working with my editor, I’ll read a part of the book and it’s a total surprise to me because I don’t quite remember writing it. 

What was the publishing process like for this book? It was a PROCESS let me tell you! When my agent sold the book it was almost half as long as it is now.  I had to basically write another 125 pages in a few months.  The story was there already, but I had to really pull stuff out of my soul on a daily basis to meet my deadlines and make my amazing editor happy.  I was shocked at how much blood sweat and tears go into a book.  It was really intense fun though to push myself and let the characters tell me what they were going to do and how they felt.  Best time of my writing life! 

How did you come up with the characters? Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Because Keek and I have so much in common, it was really important to make everyone else the opposite or at least completely different from people in my life when I was 15.  Matt is a sweet jock, while my actual high school boyfriend was a sweet, skinny, gothy, passive aggressive fellow. The grandma is a kind of hybrid of both my grandmothers.  The parents are nothing like my real parents.  I see myself in all the characters because they are all, in a way, part of me. I often think of Keek as my Siamese twin, connected to me and almost identical in every way but a completely separate person with her own history, ideas, and sense of self.

If And Then Things Fall Apart became a movie, what would ideal cast be? 
So hard! 
Chloe Moretz from Let Me In is a little bit of a hero of mine.  She seems like she could make Keek work for her. “Sofa king” would roll off her tongue no problem.
Chace Crawford as Matt because he seems like a sweet jock to me… who might roast a chicken.
Alia Shawkat for Nic event though she might be a little mature for the part. I love her and her freckles.
Aziz Ansari for Earl the Squirrel.  I know for sure he is way too adult but I was actually thinking of him when I created Earl.
Zach Galifianakis for the dad for sure 
Kristen Wiig for the mom.  I loved her in Whip It.
Shirley effing MacLaine as the Grandma. 
And the beautiful and evil Megan Fox as Amanda…  Ok I just spent about an hour trying to figure this out, and now I so want to see THIS movie… (I wanna see this too!!)

What are the top 5 books you think EVERYONE should read?
1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2. Geek Love by Katherine Dunne
3. The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
4. The Collected Works of Dorothy Parker
5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

What type of music do you like listening to? I like it all but I like stuff that is authentic, funny, a little angry and makes me feel like I want to go and kick garbage cans in the alley. What I’m trying to say is not one thing in particular…

This doesn't seem like Keek's idea of an ideal summer. What would your ideal summer be like? This seems so cliché but I love the beach and would love to spend an entire summer at a beach house, grilling food, swimming, reading, making crap out of seashells and like, crafts from popsicle sticks.  Yoga in the morning, cappuccinos at sunset. Reading reading reading.  One day…

Did you always want to be a writer? What made you become one? I am a big geek and yes, I have always wanted to be a writer.  For a while I wanted to be a psychiatrist so I would get a chance to crack people’s brains open like walnuts and really SEE them.  Writing allows me to do that too.  If you write, you are by definition a writer.  I got an MFA from Columbia University because I thought I needed the degree to validate my decision to write.  However, nothing says I AM A WRITER like (finally!) getting a book published… and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Are there any upcoming projects with YA readers should look out for? I wish I had a title and a marketing plan and was deep in revisions for my next book but I am not.  Yet. I have a deep and intense idea about a girl, her home, her slightly unhinged parents, and some ostriches.  And that is all I can really say right now… I know, how mysterious…

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers and authors out there? Write, write, write.  And then write some more.  Listen to your guts and don’t be scared of anything.  Easier said than done, I know but really, good fiction finds a way out into the world.

Find Arlaina Tibensky:

Thank you so much to Arlaina Tibensky for taking the time to answer the questions :) I absolutely LOVED And Then Things Fall Apart, so be sure to get your hands on it. It came out a few days what are you sitting there for? GO GET!

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Keek’s life was totally perfect.
Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever, her best friend heinously betrayed her, her parents are divorcing, and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically-barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze—she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can put them right.

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