So excited to have author Shari Goldhagen today on the blog for a quick interview about her newly released novel, 100 Days of Cake. Shari is nice enough to answer few questions for me about her writing experiences, inspirations and more. I hope you all enjoy the interview.
To know more about 100 Days of Cake and Shari Goldhagen, check the author’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview, as well as links where to find Shari and where to order copies of 100 Days of Cake.
Interview with Shari Goldhagen
Suppose you met someone in the elevator and had only 30 seconds to describe your novel, 100 Days of Cake. What would you say?
Ahhh. . .the dreaded elevator pitch!
I’d say it’s about a girl who’s going through uh, stuff. Some of it’s typical teen territory—the freaking SATs, a friend who might be more than a friend, trying to get along a kid sister who is growing up and changing herself. And some of the stuff isn’t quite so typical—dealing with depression/anxiety, crushing on her shrink, a mom who’s convinced her kid is just one cake away from being cured. And Golden Girls re-runs, lots of Golden Girls.
Not every author grew up considering themselves as a writer. When and how did you discover your inner muse? Did you know what sort of stories you wanted to tell or did you just sort of feel your way?
I’m definitely that writer who always knew she wanted to be a writer. Even before I could write, I would dictate these stories to my mom about Batgirl and Batman–Super friends was my favorite show, and I was kind of an early adopter of fan fic.
That said, I’m not the kind of writer who writes because she loves words (I mean we’re really good friends and all, but love, eh); I’ve always just kind of made up stories and characters in my head and writing them down was a way for me to hold onto them longer. And then later on it was like, “oh, I can take creative writing classes instead of Calculus? Yes, please!”
How did the inspiration for 100 Days of Cake come?
It was a lot of different things really.
For a long time, I wanted to write a story about depression that wasn’t depressing (fingers crossed I succeeded). When I met my editor, Jessica, we started talking the ideas came out pretty quickly.
Also I was intrigued by the generational play of culture. I sometimes teach teen creative writing class, and one of the things I found amaze-a-crazy was that so many of my students loved the music and TV shows I grew up with. One dude asked me if I’d heard of Pearl Jam—and I was like, “for serious? Eddie Vedder was a god of my generation.” No one specifically had a thing for Golden Girls, but a couple girls were watching all ten seasons of Friends and another was into Family Ties. I definitely like the idea of Molly and Alex being into these things from their parents’ generation, even if they didn’t realize that it was a way to connect with their parents on some level.
What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating Molly Byrne?
I think I learned to trust myself to create a character not a disease. When I started writing 100 DOC, I admit I was kind of intimidated about how I showed Molly’s depression. My other novels have been aimed at adults, but this was the first time I was writing specifically for a teen audience, and I was pretty freaked out about telling younger people the “wrong” things about mental illness. In some of the early versions, the story was really weighted down by the specifics of various conditions.
But then I took a deep breath and said, screw it. I’m not a doctor and this isn’t a guidebook; it’s much more important to write a character who is fully developed than one who is a perfect case study for the DSM. It was really liberating . . .but I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a little hate mail.
If readers could take away one thing from having read 100 Days of Cake what would you hope it would be?
That just because you may not always understand the people in your life, it doesn’t mean that love isn’t real. And working on those relationship is almost always worth it, even if it’s hard.
Oh yeah, and that Golden Girls is a really good show.
Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you in the near future?
I really ended up enjoying writing YA, so I have a few ideas I’m kicking around on that front. One is something I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid, and I think maybe now that I’m really, really, really not a kid, I might finally be able to pull it off.
And then there is this adult novel I was working on between my first two books. I got about 200 pages in before I got completely stumped on a plot point and had to put it down. There were parts of it I absolutely loved, and I swear I will finish it one day . . .even if I’m 103.
And one last quick question, what’s your favorite cake?
Ironically I’m much more of a savory snack addict—like I’d be the one to try 100 Days of French Fries. That said I’m going to go with carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a bit of a spice kick. It’s cool because you can somehow try to tell yourself that you’re eating a vegetable.
Thank you so much Shari!