Today I have as my guest Valerie Ipson, author of Ideal High.
Welcome to Among the Reads, Valerie. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me today. I hope you enjoy this homemade cheesecake and hot chocolate, which I understand are your favorites.
Why did you choose to start your writing career with Young Adult fiction? What was your motivation in writing Ideal High?
Truthfully, I only wrote a YA novel because of Ideal High. The idea came to me and wouldn’t go away. The idea came from two sources: a news story about a bus accident involving kids on a school trip and a memory of a girl from high school who no one ever seemed to talk to. I wondered if things would be different at a school facing a tragedy that took the lives of several of their students. Would everyone act differently? Would they be nicer…even to the typically bullied or ignored students?
You did a great job of bringing those ideas to life in your book. If you could go back and change anything from your High School experience, what would it be?
If I could change anything I would definitely want to be more outgoing and friendly, and along with that not be afraid to talk to those who didn’t have friends.
Imagine how different a place High School would be if more of the students would do that!
Were any of the characters in Ideal High inspired by people in your life? Do you have a favorite character in the book?
The characters in Ideal High are completely fictitious, but my inspiration had to come from somewhere, right? Maybe in a very general way they are inspired composites of people I’ve encountered in my life. How’s that for a safe answer?
To varying degrees I love all my characters, but I’d have to say the main character, Taryn Young, is my favorite. I put her in a tough situation, really, the worst thing ever–to lose a new boyfriend and several friends right before her senior year–and then I forced her to become student body president and deal with all that school garbage, plus worry about who really started the fire. She’s my hero–she came out on top–though I don’t want to give anything away!
Taryn was a pretty amazing girl, while also being very relateable. I can see why you would favor her.
Ideal High deals with bullying and just with ignoring others. Is there some experience in your life that makes this a hot topic for you?
I can’t recall any specific incident where I was bullied as a child, but I do remember being an observer of it happening around me and it affecting me deeply. I’ve just always kind of had an affinity for the underdog or for those with little power being hurt or controlled by those who think they have more power. I feel like bullying is something that can be controlled, can be stopped. Children (and adults) must choose to treat each other better. It really should be an easy fix.
I wish more people thought like you do. I have such a hard time understanding the kind of mentality that causes people to pick on others.
How did you go about doing research for your book?
Ideal High is a contemporary novel, but it’s been quite a few years since I was in high school so current teenagers were my best source
Describe your ideal place to write.
I’ll write anywhere an idea strikes me, but the best place is on my desktop computer in my office. When I’m too easily distracted there (by emails, FB, etc.) I grab my laptop and move to the kitchen or back patio
I understand those distractions! I love being able to communicate in these ways, but I hate it as well!
What are some of your other ideas for future novels?
Currently writing another YA novel called My Purple Heart–the basic story is a girl finds a Purple Heart award and decides to return it to its owner. I decided I couldn’t publish just one YA so I decided to write at least one more right now before moving on to other projects and genres.
That sounds fascinating. I can’t wait to read that story!
Thank you very much for being my guest today, and for the copy of Ideal High that you have offered to giveaway here. I wish you the best in your writing career!