Interview with Aubrey Coletti

Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself…?

Well I’m a twenty year old author, college student, X-Men fangirl and all around geek!

What’s your idea of a relaxing day..?

Watching a good movie or show, sitting outside, and, of course, reading a good book!

What was your families’ reaction when you told them you wanted to be a writer…? Were they supportive or did they think you were crazy…?

I still remember my grandfather’s reaction when I told him. He nodded, and then said “Yeah, you sure try to be a lawyer.” But overall they’ve been very supportive, I really can’t complain. I do, every now and then, but I shouldn’t.

What’s your favorite:

Author…? Tamora Pierce

Film…? Serenity

TV Show…? Firefly

Have you ever read a book, then later saw the film, and thought “Oh man, they screwed it all up…?”

Oh yes. This is a fun story. I’m a pretty big Philippa Gregory fan, so I was excited when they                       made the big Hollywood movie of “The Other Boleyn Girl.” I went to this movie with my grandparents, so not only was I watching them completely re-write the plot and take out incredibly important elements which would have made the whole story clearer and actually saved them time, they also put in an unnecessary rape scene. It was just completely awful.

Tell us about your book…?

Altered is set in J. Alter Academy, a school which uses methods like skin-shocks, isolation, food deprivation and so on to try and ‘fix’ the boarders they bring to the school. The main characters, naturally, decide they won’t stand for this, and band together to fight back against the Academy. It becomes an issue of escalation, as the school adopts more draconian methods the harder the main characters fight, and the question becomes, are they proving the Academy right in their tactics?

Tell us a bit about the main Character… Are they based off of any one in particular…? What inspired you to create this character…?

Honestly, there are multiple main characters! They are all inspired by various friends and family members, composites of real life people. One of the main characters, Toni, is mainly inspired by my best friend, and she knows it! It was very gratifying when she read the book and felt that the character differed enough from her that she could say it was truly a CHARACTER, and not just her with a different name. I wanted the novel to be as real as possible, so much of what the characters say is actually composed of direct quotes I took down my first year in high school!

Where did you did you get the idea for your book…? What inspired you or caused you to say “Ah ha…”

It started with my writing down interesting, funny, sad, or moving things my friends and school-mates said in my first year of high school. Then I had all these characters ready, but didn’t know their story. When I started learning about the behavior modification centers, camps, and schools which still exist in the United States where the methods detailed in Altered are still used, I  had my setting, and everything expanded from there.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book…?

Definitely the beginning, and then the editing process. In the beginning, when I was still discovering where the characters were placed, I was basically writing in the dark, trying to figure out where this was all headed. And then editing, where I had to cut out characters, make structural changes, kill my darlings…all the fun of that!

Let’s chat for a minute about your writing process… Do you outline, or are you one of that that just sits and starts writing by the seat of your pants…?

You know, I never used to outline. I would have an idea of where the chapter was going sometimes, and write down what would happen in broad terms, and then I’d write it down. Nowadays, I’m more of a plan-ahead writer, but I still have to leave it open for the characters to come in and take control if they feel I’m writing it wrong!

Do you write in the morning, evening, or are you a graveyard writer…?

I am NOT a morning person! I can do afternoon and evening, but I definitely come alive at  night. One of my favorite artists, Emilie Autumn, has a song called “4 O’Clock” talking about how certain people just wake up at that hour. Lately, I’ve been staying up until then. I’m definitely a night owl!

When you write, what are the biggest challenges you encounter…?

Probably, at this point, balancing remaining organic with letting the characters speak for themselves, with also trying to have an idea of where the story is headed.

Do you know much about your characters when you start, or do you get to know them as you go along…? 

I definitely knew a lot about all of the main characters before starting, since I had the characters down before I ever had the setting or plot. But they always evolve as you write them, new things come out, and secrets that you didn’t know they have are revealed. The best part is when you are writing your characters and then they take over and write the story themselves.

If you could write in a genre different than the one you are writing in now, what would it be and why…?

Oh, there’s so many! Actually, I’ve really wanted to write a historical fiction about Madame Ching for a while now. Madame Ching, for those who don’t know, was one of the most successful pirates of all time: born a Cantonese prostitute, she married the head of the Red Flag Fleet, and managed to convince him to give her a third of his ships! Somehow, she became an amazing leader, preventing her men from committing rape and paying villagers to grow food so they didn’t have to loot from them. When her husband died, she took over the whole fleet, and the British, Portuguese and Chinese all sent their armadas after her. She beat them all, and the Emperor gave up and offered her and all her pirates a full pension and palaces, so she retired in luxury. So definitely a story I am surprised hasn’t been made into a movie yet and one I would love to explore!

What novel (stand alone or series) would you recommend that everybody read…?

Wow, that’s hard. I think I’ll go with The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It’s a retelling of the King Arthur mythos from the point of view of the women, and it’s just impossibly powerful. It follows the entire scope of the characters lives, and is just brilliant in terms of making the characters real, that when you reach the end of it, you feel you’ve truly been with them every step of the way. I still cry when I finish it.

Who stands out as being your favorite writer…?

Tamora Pierce. I discovered The Song of the Lioness series when I was, oh, twelve? Younger? And it’s still my favorite. She’s just an amazing character writer and world builder.

If you had the chance to sit down and talk to any writer dead or alive for one hour who would that be and why…?

Anne Lamott. Her book Bird By Bird is the sole reason I was able to write. She just nails all of the problems would-be writers have – having good ideas but not being able to finish, being so angry at not writing a perfect first draft that they stop, thinking they’ve written clearly when they haven’t…it just completely changed my life. Plus, she seems like a very funny gal, so I’d love to talk with her!

What can we expect next from you…?

The sequel to Altered! I’m busily writing it, and I hope to have it out very soon. Wish me luck!

(Click on the pick below to purchase)

Twitter: @AubreyIsAltered


Website:   You can contact me via my forum, where I answer questions and comments!


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