teen writer interview: emilia plater

Teen writer interviews are a feature on my blog, where I invite some very talented teens who are seriously pursuing publication over for a spotlight.


Emilia Plater

Age: 17 (Life is going by so fast! AHH)

Blog: Punk Writer Kid

Twitter: @emiliaplater

Represented By: Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management


Food: Chinese

Song: Hey by The Pixies

Weather: 75 degrees and sunny. I'm on the wrong coastline!

Movie: Catch Me If You Can

Write the autobiography of your life in a sentence, using at least three of these words: watermelon, tusks, sibilant, boots, reindeer, finagle, crusty, scuba, watershed, turban.

Once, a girl with the ability to eat a whole watermelon in one sitting put on some boots and scuba'd this world with her TUSKS. Metaphorically.

(faux cover below)

Query/ Summary for Autochromatic:

I'm awful at short s ummaries, so y'all get the Big Query Kahuna. Much apologies! Here we go...

Ask seventeen-year-old Riley Tanner how she's dealing with the death of her boyfriend, Adrian, and she'll respond with an eye-roll and a "fantastically." Truth is, the car crash wrecked her world, and Riley has pretty much accepted her fate as a screwed-up therapy case. But when she starts getting texts from Adrian's phone number, each containing a different address, her plan to spend the summer not thinking about him falls apart.

Desperate to track down the sender - mostly so she can punch that creep in the face - Riley sets off on a follow-the-texts road trip with her best friend. From New York City to the Wild West, she meets people from Adrian's past who she didn't know existed. Their stories of betrayal, alcoholism, and messed-up family dramas paint a not-so-pretty picture of the guy she thought she loved. Great.

With her beliefs caught in a crapstorm, Riley recognizes the real source of her frustration: Adrian's mistakes. But there's nothing in the Angsty Teen manual about conflict resolution with dead people, and things only get worse when her best friend heads home after a fight. Stranded on the wrong side of the country, Riley has to make a choice: give up healing for good, or ask for help from the one person who refuses to show their face...

IWAGR: Wow. I'd seriously buy this book in a heartbeat if I saw it at the bookstore.

Can you share a favorite scene or a few excerpts from Autochromatic?

My favorite scene is a little too spoilery (I'm a sucker for Climactic Breakdowns), but here are a few of my fave bits! They characterize Riley well, muah hah.

Screw twinkling lights. I prefer the city in the morning. The real people come out now -- the suits on their way to work, the hardcore drunks on their way home, the crazy muscular runners. Sunlight bleeds into the sidewalk cracks and ramps up the contrast of the colors, plastic colors, trash colors. This is the real city, awake again after a chaotic Saturday night, collective hangover chiseling everything to an edge. That’s not printed on the stupid posters in Times Square.

Watch me. No way. This room flashes to mine, zooms in on my bed, where sheets snarl around my ankles. People are studying me, Riley Tanner, age seventeen, boyfriend died in a car crash, isn’t that sad? They’re wondering, whispering as gunfire pain sears at my middle, cutting my organs, warping my spine. All day , all night, no medicine works and two words writhe in my ear. Suicide watch.

That camping trip was great. Adrian and I were allowed to have our own tent, and we almost had sex in it after a day of rock-climbing, but then my dad started making bear noises ten feet away and we co llapsed into laughter.
IWAGR: Those are really awesome! LOVE.

What was it like landing an agent?

Oh my gosh, it was amazing and exciting and insane! It's been a month, and I still don't think it's sunk in. I'm probably going to be sitting in school someday soon when I randomly start having a freak attack because it's finally hit me. This is happening. Huh?

What does your book sound like? (Describe it as if it were a song.)

I hear guitar, power electric guitar, with a dash of piano melody for the the more touchy-feely moments. A great drum beat. Lots of annoying cymbal crashing during the chorus. And for some reason, a trumpet. Veery interesting.

INWAGR: Interesting indeed!

What inspired you to begin writing in the first place? When did you get serious about it? And what keeps you sticking with it?

In the beginning, my "inspiration" was a little twisted: I wanted to write a book for the sake of being that cool kid who writes a book. Looking back, I think emo 15-year-old me was searching for something - a jumpstart, a break in the monotony, a reason for being, whatever you want to call it. It just so happens that the week I started writing AC, something shifted, and suddenly it hit me that I had, as an emo 15-year-old, stumbled upon my freakin' calling. Whoaman!

Despite all that, I didn't know if I'd be able to stick with it. But it's been a year and a half since then, and whether it's the words, or the people, or the addictive highs, or something else altogether, I'm still here. Honestly, I couldn't feel more blessed.

Can you describe your writing style?

Whine, procrastinate, write two sentences, check Facebook, eat, write. No, just kidding... sort of, hee! Above all, I try to keep it real, no holds barred. In AC, Riley's gritty, tell-all voice really helps me do that. But overall, the visceral reaction is something I'm always hunting for. It may take a few rounds of hammering, but once that cool turn of phrase shows itself, or that breakdown hits just the right note, I've done my job.

Looking at my excerpts, apparently I'm a lover of run-on sentences. I promise they're only a slight problem!

What’s your ultimate writing dream and where do you see yourself in ten years time writing-wise?

In ten years, I hope to be writing novels for a living, or at least part of a living. Earth-shattering, I know - I just hope they're good!

When it comes to an ultimate writing dream, right now I feel like seeing my writing on the pages of a real-live book would be the most amazing thing in the world. But I'm also a big believer in the idea that under every desire lies another one waiting to break free. So maybe one day I'll dream of nothing less than penning an NYT bestseller - or, more likely, of simply being someone with the power to shake things up and make people think a little differently. Whatever happens will happen - and I can't wait to go along for the ride!

What is your favorite hobby other than writing?

Would you believe me if I told you I'm a professional whale trainer? No? Yeah, I wouldn't either. Hmm... Well, there's reading, and creepily drawing portraits of my friends when they're not looking. OH! My dream is to travel like crazy, and I've already been to a few pretty sweet places. Yes, I choose traveling. Which is funny, because my parents are always bugging me to get out of my room. Oh, moms and dads.


What’s the most important thing in your writing? (A gripping plot? Humor? Beautiful descriptions? Great dialogue? Great voice? Awesome characters?) What do you strive to perfect?

Dude, reading that list of qualities made me drool! I really try my best to achieve them all, since the whole package is always ideal. But I'll be the first to admit that voice is what hooks me the most in YA, and it's one of my favorite things to develop. I've found that once you've got the main character's essence down, suddenly the humor's there too, closely followed by the descriptions, and the snappy dialogue... Riley comprises the core of AC, and from her has sprung plot changes, characters I want her to clash with, everything. I owe her a lot!

Even though in my head, Riley is pretty much a real-live person, I've had to work a lot on perfecting those minor characters, particularly their motivations. Having a whole cast of real characters is truly what makes a story memorable - any LOST fan will tell you that. Then you get to finish the book and think... "Wait, where do I find these people?"

What’s a word you absolutely hate? One that you absolutely love?

For some reason, the word 'lips' has always freaked me out. I sort of have to use it though, because my characters are always smiling like idiots (it's a problem), and you can only use 'mouth' and 'smile' so many times. I absolutely love the word 'gambol.' Which sucks, because if I made any of my characters do it, they'd kill me. I'll have to stick them in a meadow of happy flowers sometime and see what they do THEN.

If you ever made it on to the front page of a newspaper, what would it be for?

I swear I'm not lying - my immediate answer was "for burning something down." I mean, ideally, it'd be for setting up a kitten orphanage, or for a record-breaking book release, but... yeah. I suck at cooking.

Invent a writing or reading related superpower.

The power to stop time. Unrelated! you exclaim accusingly. But oh, it is so related. Can you imagine being able to stop time for a little in the middle of crazy-busy day, sit down, and read a cool book or write a chapter or two before returning to the grind? Hells yeah. And the possibilities for pranks are endless, but that actually isn't writing related, so I'll keep 'em to myself. (One word: whales.)

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF YOUR LIFE: In a top-secret experiment (that is probably very unethical and illegal) SCIENTISTS HAVE ENGINEERED A BREED OF OH-SO-CUTE kittens that can *gasp* read. Desperate to make sure these kittens get the reading education they need, you ninja five of your favorite books into the laboratory. What are they and why let the kitties read them?

OMG! Okay. Okay. No pressure. Just molding the minds of adorable kittens that will inevitably rule the world with their cuteness. Let's see... I'd want to make sure they don't feel weird, being able to read and all, so I'd use The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie to teach them the importance of being yourself. Then, I'd want them to be prepared for the possibility of a zombie outbreak when they rule the world, so stick in World War Z by Max Brooks.

After that, it's time for some lessons about love and hate and women's issues: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers and The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath (don't get too depressed, kitties!). And finally, the eternal Harry Potter series (it counts as one), because no living creature should ever have to endure an existence without magic. Yay!

IWAGR: Aww man, those are all awesome books--I freaking love Alexie and Rowling and Plath and Rowling. Those kitties are gonna have lots of fun reading them :p


Thank you Emilia for letting me interview you! Who else thinks this girl is made of awesome?

Don't forget to check out her (also) awesome blog over at Punk Writer Kid.