Swanky 17er Joanne O’Sullivan recently interviewed Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott, authors of THE WAY BACK TO YOU, a YA Contemporary published on May 3, 2016 by Katherine Tegen books.
About the Book
Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident. Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, but inside she’s tangled, confused, heartbroken. Kyle, Ashlyn’s boyfriend, is aching, too. As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something out of character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a road trip with her to meet the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death. Together, the two try to find their way back to her and to each other.
About the Authors
Michelle Andreani was born and raised in New York City and has never lived anywhere else. She enjoys staying in, singing along, and stories with big hearts. The Way Back to You is her first novel.
Mindi Scott lives near Seattle with her drummer husband in a house with a non-sound-proof basement. Freefall, her first novel, was published in 2010. Her second novel, Live Through This, was published in 2012. She contributed a chapter to Violent Ends, a collaborative novel written by 17 young adult authors in 2015.
A Conversation about The Way Back to You
Joanne: When and how did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Michelle: I didn’t know I even enjoyed writing until I was an older teen. I adored television at the time–especially teen-centric shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls–and those shows are what sparked a love of crafting words in me. (And why I thought I wanted to be a screenwriter before a novelist!)
Mindi: I started getting compliments on my writing in about fifth grade, so I always figured I’d write a book someday. I kept journals—paper and later, online—for years. It was my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo in 2002 that made me decide I wanted to pursue writing for real.
Joanne: How did you two meet and decide to write a book together?
Michelle: We have been critique partners for years (we met in an online writing workshop in 2007). When Mindi was finished writing her second book, Live Through This, she suggested we write one together.
Joanne: How did the logistics of writing this book together work?
Michelle: We exchanged tons and TONS of texts and emails. The book alternates POVs, so that’s how we wrote it. I’d write a chapter, then send it to Mindi. She’d give me notes and I’d revise as she worked on the following chapter. It went like that as often as we could swing it! It definitely helped that we had a pretty detailed outline.
Joanne: How did you come up with the idea for The Way Back To You?
Michelle: A friend/co-worker told me about a documentary she’d seen about a boxer who’d died after a match as a result of his injuries. His organs were donated, and the doc followed his family and the recipients’ and their families. It was so intriguing and inspiring. I think we knew it was the right one because it got us so excited to tell Cloudy’s and Kyle’s stories.
Mindi: Yes! Michelle emailed the story idea to me all casual like, “Hey, by the way, what do you think of this?” And I was all casual back like, “This could be pretty cool.” She hadn’t wanted to sound too excited in case I didn’t like the idea. I didn’t want to sound too excited because I wasn’t sure if she was offering to write it with me, or if she wanted to write it alone. Luckily, we both stopped being passive as the conversation went on, and we got to be excited about it together.
Joanne: How did you find your agent/editor?
Mindi: Jim McCarthy offered me representation in 2009 after one of his clients recommended my work to him. And Jim is the one who found Alex Arnold, Michelle’s and my editor for The Way Back to You!
Michelle: My agent story is very untraditional in that I started writing TWBTY with Mindi before I had one. Thankfully, Jim was willing to take a chance on me, and Mindi was gracious enough to share him.
Favorite writing snack?
Michelle: I typically stock up on protein/granola bars when I’m writing. Peanut butter and chocolate, always!
Mindi: Smoothies! Chocolate and peanut butter. 😉
Oddest job you ever had?
Michelle: I don’t know that it’s odd, but in college I worked the security desk in the campus dorms. Which really meant I checked in visitors and watched TV in a tiny booth while wearing an over-sized uniform shirt.
Mindi: I worked at a packaging warehouse in high school. One of the tasks was to dress up refrigerator magnets of Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Venus and arrange them for packaging—along with their magnetic 1990’s wardrobes.
Music to write by?
Michelle: It depends on what I’m writing! And when it’s not music, I’ll usually have a television show playing as background noise. (I feel like I’m talking about television a lot in this interview. Books, guys! I love books, I swear!)
Mindi: I listen to whichever music allows me to get into my character’s head. With The Way Back to You, I listened to Death Cab for Cutie every day. For literal yeeeeears.
What were you reading when you were 16?
Michelle: I believe I was going through a Greek tragedy phase at 16. So, lots of Sophocles, probably!
Mindi: Victoria Holt, John Grisham, any novel with a movie adaptation that I could find at the library.
Michelle: I have three. Two cats named Lucy and Pearl, and a cockatiel named Caesar.
Mindi: I have three cats: Neko, Angelus, and Niña.
About the Interviewer
Joanne O’Sullivan traveled the world teaching English as a Second Language and meeting fascinating characters before settling with her husband and two kids in Asheville, North Carolina, where she writes about books and artists as journalist, researches science and social studies as a non-fiction author, and armchair travels while planning her next big trip. Her first novel Between Two Skies will be released by Candlewick Press in April 2017.