Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Aya Tsintziras

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January 1, 2013 - Aya Tsintziras is Open Book: Toronto's January 2013 Writer in Residence.

Open Book:

Tell us about your book, Pretty Bones.

Aya Tsintziras:

Pretty Bones is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl named Raine struggling with anorexia and relationships with her boyfriend, best friend and mother.

OB:

What motivated you to write about anorexia?

AT:

When I was in ninth grade, a girl in my grade passed away from anorexia. I will always remember that day in school when we learned what had happened and were trying to make sense of it. That tragedy really stayed with me and when I was part of the Tarragon Theatre’s Young Playwrights Unit when I was 15, I decided to write a one-act play about anorexia. Then when I was 16 I turned that play into a novel, which ended up being Pretty Bones (its first title was Rainfall). I really wanted to write about a girl’s inner struggle with who she is and who she’s becoming and also how she deals with the people in her life. Anorexia is scary and so I wanted to write a book that would be accessible, that would draw you into one girl’s world.

OB:

What sort of research did you do to write Pretty Bones?

AT:

During my high school years, I read a lot of memoirs about anorexia or depression so that was my research — just learning about the disorder and how isolated you become. I also took a lot from my own teenage life — the main character Raine is kind of quiet and wants to be a writer, which was me in high school, and her boyfriend Dylan was basically the kind of boyfriend I would have wanted as a teenager!

OB:

Who are your literary influences?

AT:

My favourite YA authors are Sarah Dessen, Jay Asher, Gayle Forman, Courtney Summers and Sara Zarr. Some of them write dark books, some of them write light books, but they all capture the teenage experience really well. I also love Jodi Picoult, Tish Cohen, Tom Perotta and Michael Chabon.

OB:

What's the best comment you've received from a reader?

AT:

That the book is realistic in its depiction of anorexia and high school life — that is always good to hear!

OB:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

AT:

Most authors will say read and write as much as you can so I have to go with that advice. Read in the genre you write in and work on perfecting your craft. After writing the book, the first step to getting published is finding a literary agent to represent you. Agents not only have the editorial contacts but most will work on your book with you, which is an amazing learning experience. Books take a lot of drafts! And don’t get discouraged by rejection, it’s normal and will happen to everyone.

OB:

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on another YA novel.

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