Regular readers know that I am a big fan of Susane Colasanti’s books. They’re always fun and optimistic with great characters and, more often than not, have a summery vibe. I’ve talked to Susane previously about her 2011 novel So Much Closer. She is back today to talk about All I Need–a story of soulmates, seredipity and summer–which came out in May.
Miss Print (MP): What was the inspiration for All I Need?
Susane Colasanti (SC): When I was a teen, the first day of summer vacay always came with this overwhelming feeling of excitement. Like anything was possible. I had visions of meeting my soul mate over the summer, reinventing myself, and going back to school as a shiny new girl. Of course that never happened. But I never stopped hoping it would. Writing All I Need was my way of bringing that fantasy to life. Seth and Skye are soul mates. They have this immediate, intense connection right from the first night they meet on the beach. They both know right away that they’ve found something real.
MP: All I Need has two narrators—Skye and Seth—who alternate chapters told in their first person voices. This is a return to the dual narration format of your debut novel When It Happens. How did you know dual narration was the best way to tell this story? What was it like returning to that format? How did having two narrators influence your writing decisions regarding pacing and what readers learn from both main characters?
SC: The original plan was to write all of my books from two points of view. The few YA love stories I remember reading as a teen (because that was back in the day before there was a teen section with the awesome selection of novels available now) only featured the main girl character’s point of view. I was dying to know the boy’s side of the story. What was he thinking? Did he really like the girl? What did he talk about with his friends? What did his room look like? I promised myself that if I ever wrote a teen novel, I would tell the story from both the girl’s and boy’s perspective. My intention worked out for When It Happens and Take Me There. But when I was working on the Waiting for You chapter outline, I realized that I couldn’t reveal Nash’s side of the story. It would give away his big secret. The same was true for my other books up until All I Need. I was stoked to finally be able to return to the alternating perspectives I love so much.
MP: Building off the last question: Skye and Seth are two very different characters. How did you get into each of their “heads” while writing? Did you write the story linearly or work on one character at a time? Was it hard to transition between Skye and Seth’s narrative voices?
SC: Moving between the two voices was actually a pretty smooth process. Although Skye and Seth have their differences, they also have a lot in common. They’re soul mates who are meant to be together. I know what it’s like to meet a soul mate. How amazing it feels to have that instant chemistry and connection with someone. Moving forward from that point when Skye and Seth meet at the beach in the first two chapters felt familiar. It was like I’d known Skye and Seth my whole life. And in a way, I have.
MP: All I Need spans a significant amount of time as Skye and Seth try to find each other and later try to make their relationship work. How did you decide which scenes were key to their story? Is there anything you wanted to include but couldn’t? Any favorite scene or scenes?
SC: The last scene comes to mind as a fave. To see these two characters back on the dune where they kissed that first night they met was a wonderful full-circle moment. Full-circle moments always feel so powerful to me. I love the concept of closure, the sensation that everything is connected. The Universe brings Skye and Seth together at the beginning of the book and it brings them right back there in the end.
All I Need could have been much longer. There are tons of cute scenes that I could have included. But every chapter must advance the plot in a significant way. Keeping that rule in mind, I wrote scenes that moved the story forward while reflecting the special bond that Skye and Seth share.
MP: The last time you were on the blog for an interview we were discussing So Much Closer, a wonderful novel as well as a bit of an ode to New York City. Your latest novel All I Need is set on the Jersey Shore and in Philadelphia. How did you go about researching these locations? Are any of the locales mentioned in the book inspired by real places?
SC: Including actual locations in my books is something I really enjoy. Like Seth, I went to the University of Pennsylvania. I adore Philly and thought it would be a fun setting for the book. The Jersey Shore felt like a good place to bring Seth and Skye together in a realistic way. My hometown is Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey. Taking day trips down the shore was standard summer practice. I remember how unique Sea Bright looked on maps, this tiny town on a sliver of sand. I never went to Sea Bright back in the day, but I visited while I was researching All I Need. Real places like Diner on the Square, the Land of Make Believe, and Good Karma Cafe are also included in the book.
Speaking of actual locations and how everything is connected…Skye’s hometown of Newfoundland, New Jersey is also the setting of Something Like Fate. A couple of the characters from Something Like Fate even have cameos in All I Need.
MP: While we’re talking about locales, one place Skye and Seth both love is the Snowball stand (store?) by the shore. Skye and Seth both have their own flavor preferences. What’s your flavor of choice? Also, inquiring New Yorkers (called Miss Print) want to know: Is a snowball really different from Italian Ices?
SC: Loving this question! The snowball place in All I Need, Cold as Ice, was inspired by an actual snowball place right here in New York City. It’s called Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls and is open every summer. Dude, these are the most delicious snowballs you will ever taste. This year you can find them at 55 Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. We went the other night after dinner to get snowballs and walk the High Line, which starts a block away. Which flavors did we get? Skye’s fave is my fave: watermelon tangerine. When I told my BF/soul mate that Seth likes spearmint lemonade, he immediately ordered one. He is so like a boy right out of one of my books.
Yes, snowballs are very different from Italian ice. The ice in an Italian ice is smoother than in a snowball. Which is not to be confused with a snow cone. Snow cones contain coarser ice. As I am a huge fan of crushed ice, I consider these differences to be significant.
MP: Early on, Skye covets a certain sweet carnival prize. What would your dream carnival prize be? Was there one you actually coveted? Did you win it?
SC: Would you believe I still have my most beloved carnival prizes? A stuffed satin crescent moon and matching star. They have shiny ribbons dangling from them. I don’t want to think about how many quarters my Gram sacrificed for me to win those prizes.
MP: At his dorm Seth has some wacky suite mates, particularly his roommate Grant. Were any of Seth’s roomie troubles inspired by actual experiences?
SC: Totally. I had the worst roommate freshman year. She was a slob. She would do disgusting things all the time like leave a bowl of cereal on her desk for days. It would grow mold and everything. Her grossness factor inspired the moldy bowls on Grant’s side of the room.
MP: What is one thing you hope readers will take away from All I Need?
SC: The reassurance that soul mates are real and the determination to never settle for less than what they want. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves to find true love. My BF/soul mate is the man of my dreams. I’m so thankful that I never stopped believing I would find him. I want my readers to keep that same hope alive.
MP: That ending! Without getting into spoilers, it seems safe to say there could be more to Skye and Seth’s story. Can you tell us if we will be seeing more of them? (If you can’t, maybe just wink once for yes or twice for no?) Since that’s a rather pointed question, let me also ask: Can you tell us anything about your next project?
SC: Readers often ask if I’ll ever write sequels to my books. While I’m not sure about sequels yet, I’m psyched to report that we’re working on a movie adaptation of Something Like Fate right now. One of my biggest dreams is to have at least one book become a movie. It’s a long process, but I have a Knowing it will happen. Always dreaming big…
In the meantime, my eighth novel will be released next year. And I just announced that I’m writing a trilogy called City Love! The first book of the series will be released Summer 2015.