Follow Dahlia on twitter if you aren't already, because she is definitely one of the most canny, smart and hilarious writer tweeps out there. You should also go ahead and check out Dahlia's blog, where she has more helpful tips, resources and information than you can shake a stick at.
So naturally, I turned up at her house in New York late one night, knocked on the door, and asked her these questions... (Or, in fact, emailed her.)
It's no secret that YA contemporary is your baby. What is it about the genre that you love so much?
I'm a little obvious about that, huh? My love of YA contemporary is actually due to a couple of different factors, but the big one is this: I grew up with a pretty restrictive religious upbringing, which I guarantee probably looks nothing like you're picturing. I went to parties, had no curfew, definitely did not have overbearing parents or anything like that, but I just felt like I was missing out on "real life." In "real life," people went to public school and ate things like cheeseburgers and shrimp and wore bikinis and miniskirts. They're tiny little things, but the way some people read/write fantasy or sci-fi because they love alternate realities? That's what contemporary has always been for me in that way.
If you had to pick another genre to write, what would it be and why?
Part of that whole "religious upbringing" thing involved my studying a looooot of Old Testament, so I have a major fondness for biblical characters and I love coming up with story ideas revolving around them. If I thought I were remotely capable, I'd probably write historical epic fantasy biblical retellings.
Which parts of the writing process do you love/hate?
Drafting is really hard for me because I've become such a perfectionist since CPs came into my life. I didn't use to have people reading along the way, and now I feel such pressure to have things be in ship shape before I subject my CPs to them. (Don't get me wrong - my CPs are incredible. This is my own insanity.) As such, I really both love it and hate it at the same time, because I find it to be such a struggle, but a rewarding struggle for sure. My favorite scenes to write are the ones that involve either kissing or fighting. Those make everything worth it!
You're mentoring in Pitch Wars at the moment, and I've seen the competition getting pretty fierce between writers AND mentors. How are you whittling down your submissions to just one?
Oh God, it is so hard. I've actually been passing on some of my top choices first, because those are the ones I've thought about the most. One thing I did was request quite a number of partials, because it's always challenging to know if the first pages hold up. Those have helped make my decision a lot, especially in cases where I felt the query wasn't an accurate representation of the story itself. There are also a few I think have a lot of promise but most likely won't be done in time for the end of Pitch Wars, and I'm hoping the authors will want to work with me on the side to polish those up!
I love reading the Perpetual WIPs section of your blog, which covers issues a lot of querying and agented writers wonder about. Will you, perchance, be adding a published writers' section sometime soon?
I hope to! I've actually spoken to a pre-pub writer about this, and at the time, I only had a handful of writer friends in this stage I felt comfortable asking, because obviously, these are pretty personal questions and people are fairly protective of their anonymity (for good reason). Now, awesomely enough, I have enough writer friends in this position that I'm hoping to do this at some point after Pitch Wars, maybe February or March 2013. It's more time consuming to compose than it looks!
What will your next writing project be? Will you be flying the flag for NA?
I've actually already flown the flag for NA! My very first queried ms was the first in an NA series. I stopped querying early but I finished the series for fun. Now I'm probably going to stick with straight-up YA for a while. My current WIP is contemporary YA, and nearly everything I've got on the backburner is as well, with the exception of one chick lit I'm 66K into and need to finish at some point, if only for myself!
Most importantly: When one of your novels is turned into a film or TV series, will you make a cameo appearance??
Definitely not - I am so not meant for camera! Oh, wait, do I get to touch the pretty actors? Then yes, yes I'll be there.
And with that, Dahlia Adler reinforces her eternal awesomeness with a flourish. Got any questions you would like to ask her? Comment at will!