Q&A with Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

This weekend on the blog is all about a YA contemporary debut of 2013 you just have to fall in love with: HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES. Today I have a Q&A with Jennifer Salvato Doktorski for you. Then a guest post about road trips also written by Jen, plus giveaway tomorrow. And on Monday I'm going to post my review of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES.


First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

Summary by Goodreads

Q & A with Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

How would you describe HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES in five words?

Rosie’s getaway to find herself.

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
In the beginning of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES Rosie finds herself in a pretty unfortunate situation, with a restraining order for setting her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire and being accused of stalking him. How did it feel to be in Rosie’s head at that point in her life? And in how far did the road trip with her best friend Matty and his friends Spencer and Logan change her?

Anyone who has experienced that crushing heartbreak after losing a first love—or any love--knows those feelings can be pretty overwhelming and consuming. Though I’ve never been in a situation as drastic as Rosie’s, I could relate to how it feels to perhaps use bad judgment, and maybe even lose my head because of a boy. I sympathized with her even though I shook my head at some of her choices. At the start of the story, Rosie is somewhat selfish and self-absorbed. By stepping out of her life, and going on a road trip with Matty, Spencer, and Logan, she grows as a person and learns to see the world and herself differently.

Did you develop Rosie’s story as you were writing it or did you have a full outline for HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES from the start? Was there some major aspect about the story that was changed in the editing process?

I used a road map to write this story, literally! I knew the places I wanted these characters to travel and I knew the time frame, so that’s what ultimately guided the story. It was fun to see how Rosie and the guys evolved with every stop along the way. With this novel, I have to say, no major aspects of the story were changed during editing. The framework remained the same, but my amazing editor, Annette Pollert, pushed me to make every sentence, on every page, better. 

What would an individual date with each of the boys look like? And how would Rosie like them?

Good question! Well, Matty would definitely take Rosie to the beach or an amusement park. He knows how much they both love the ocean and roller coasters. Spencer would take Rosie to either the planetarium or to see his favorite band. And a date with Logan would probably be the most traditional. Dinner and a movie. Rosie would totally love any of these dates. During their trip, I think she learned to love and appreciate how different and special each guy was in his own way.

How did you research for this book? Have you been to all the places that Rosie and the boys visit?

I’ve been to nearly all the places that Rosie and the boys visit. I researched the few locations I hadn’t been to by asking people who live or lived there if I got the details correct. Plus I discovered there’s almost nothing you can’t find on YouTube. Those visual images helped me fill in the gaps. 

What are some of your favourite YA titles? Do you also have a favourite road trip story?

I have so many favorite YA titles! Here are just a few: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson; How to Save Life by Sara Zarr; the Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready; Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins; Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein. Is this too many? 
I do have a fav road trip story, but it’s not YA nor does it involve a car. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Epic cowboy road trip! My recent fav is Jessi Kirby’s In Honor.

You have another contemporary coming out July 2nd 2013 by Henry Holt and Co, FAMOUS LAST WORDS. What can we expect from Samantha’s story?

Samantha is completely different from Rosie, although the two would probably benefit from being friends. They’d balance each other out. Sam’s an introvert, a girl who feels like there’s nothing much special about her. She’s trying to find her place in the world and her thing. When she lands a summer job writing obituaries for a local newspaper, it turns out that she learns a lot about life writing about death. I love the reading my publisher came up with for the cover: Her job is all about endings, but her own story is just beginning.  
I read your post on Mac Teen Books in which you talk about your road to publication and the difficult task to start feeling like an actual published (and as I might add awesome) author. How did the publication of your debut novel change your life?

Well, first, thank you very much for that compliment! And at the risk of sounding cheesy, publishing my first novel is the realization of a lifelong dream. It’s like being admitted to a club or sorority that you’ve always wanted to belong to. I still cannot believe I’m going to walk into my local library or bookstore and see one of my books!! One of the best parts has been all the wonderful and supportive people who helped make it happen, and those I met as a result of my books being published. I’ve had the opportunity to “meet” through social media, so many terrific YA bloggers, readers, librarians, and authors. I’m SO grateful for that. 

How does one of your typical writing days look like? Is there anything you cannot write without? (e.g. coffee, music)

Coffee, running, and music are my three essentials for a day of writing. Music is the one constant there. (I haven’t figured out how to run and drink coffee yet, but I would if I could.) I make playlists of songs that remind me of my characters and listen to the tunes while I run or write. It helps me to work out scenes and dialogue. I write at home. I’ve tried to take my laptop to the library of a coffee shop, but I get too distracted. I find I write best in the morning and early afternoon and usually do some of my best work when I’ve got a deadline.  

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a third novel that’s completely unrelated to the first two. I’m also working through my ideas for sequels to both HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES and FAMOUS LAST WORDS.
I hope you enjoyed the Q&A, watch out for a guest post and giveaway tomorow. Thank you Jen for answering all my questions! 

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