Susane Colasanti has been a favorite author of mine for a while now. Today, she’s back for interview number three! Today we’re talking about City Love, the first book in Susane’s new trilogy which came out in 2015. Be sure to watch for the second book Lost in Love which will be out May 3, 2016!
Miss Print (MP): What was the inspiration for City Love?
Susane Colasanti (SC): When I was in high school, every summer break had the potential for magic. Not that anything ever happened in Middle of Nowhere, NJ. But being an eternal optimist (even in my teen years, the worst time of my life), every summer began with a sense of infinite possibility. The possibility that I would have a boy adventure. The possibility that I would figure out who I really was and stop caring about what other people think. And especially the possibility that I would reinvent myself.
I looked forward to every summer as the Summer of Reinvention, during which time I would completely transform myself into a girl kids would hardly recognize when school started. Of course that never happened. The important thing was that I believed it could. There was always the anticipation that tremendous things could happen over the summer, and that anticipation sparked my passion for the City Love series. Writing a series about summer love, self-discovery, and sisterhood has been an incredible experience.
MP: City Love alternates chapters between Sadie, Rosanna and Darcy. How did you go about plotting the story and breaking up the structure between three narrators?
SC: When I began my career as an author, my plan was actually to write every book from multiple perspectives. I love showing more than one side of the same story and filling in the blanks we otherwise would never know. My first two books, When It Happens and Take Me There, are written from alternating/multiple points-of-view. But when I began the first draft of Waiting for You, I realized that I could only show Marisa’s side of the story or else too much would be given away. I wasn’t able to return to alternating voice style until my seventh book, All I Need.So I was thrilled that I would have the opportunity to spend a series of three books exploring three different points of view.
The City Love trilogy takes place over a condensed timeline of one summer. The first book covers ten days in June, the second book, Lost in Love, is July, and book three is August. So I knew that a lot would have to happen each day in order to bring the levels of character growth, drama, and evolving friendship I wanted to incorporate. But the storyline and structure constructed organically as I worked on the outline for each book. My characters are always the ones in charge, and these girls showed me how their stories would unfold. Basically I just let them take over and they showed me the way.
MP: Readers of your earlier novels might recognize Sadie from her appearance in So Much Closer. What was it like taking a secondary character from one of your earlier novels and giving her a starring role in her own story?
SC: Bringing back characters from my previous books in my new ones is something I’ve been doing for a few books now…and I love it! For example, Sterling from Waiting for You is the main character in Now and Forever. There have also been cameos of characters from Take Me There and Something Like Fate in my recent novels. Sadie is so sweet with her random acts of kindness and warm fuzzies that I knew we would see her again. It was fascinating to explore Sadie in much more depth than what we knew of her from So Much Closer. Working with an already fully developed character to develop her even further was an interesting exploration, and revealed a lot more than I was anticipating. You will see more characters from my previous books in my future books. I am weaving their storylines together as a metaphor for how everything is connected. Ultimately, my goal is for all of my characters to be connected by one degree.
MP: Do you have a favorite character in City Love? Which character were you most like as a teen?
SC: Rosanna is a lot like my teen self. I’m not from Chicago and I don’t have a big family, but we both were abused and grew up in impoverished circumstances. There is a scene in City Love where Rosanna goes to the ATM and is horrified to discover that she only has 73 cents left. That totally happened to me in college! Like Rosanna, I paid for college entirely on my own. So realizing that I essentially had no money left at one point was terrifying. Rosanna is a survivor. She is stronger than she knows. The three City Love girls are my heart, but I have special affection for Sadie. Her caring nature and determination to become a true optimist make me happy.
MP: City Love is the first book in your first trilogy. Did knowing this story would be told over the course of a trilogy change your writing process? How much did you know about each character’s arc when you started writing this book? Has anything changed?
SC: My writing process was pretty much the same. I like to have a comprehensive outline before I start writing the first draft of a new book. Every outline changes as I write and the characters reveal more of themselves to me and, subsequently, more of the story that was not initially apparent. I had a general idea of what each girl’s arc would look like, but I was flexible as the writing progressed.
MP: It’s no secret that you love New York and City Love brings you and your readers back to NYC. How did you decide what locations to include this time around? Did you have to work to balance new locations with old favorites (like the High Line which also featured in So Much Closer)?
SC: Oh, the High Line had to return! There are a few places that have given me so much joy over the past 20 years I’ve lived in New York that I really had no choice but to include them. I didn’t read So Much Closer in detail before I began writing City Love, but I did revisit Sadie’s scenes since she is now with us again. I’m sure I mentioned places in City Love that were also featured in So Much Closer without realizing it! The books are four years apart, which allowed time to discover more cool places I didn’t know about before. The Free Public Baths building is just one example. My fiancé and I recently discovered that place when we were walking around one summer night. If I hadn’t looked up, I would have never noticed the signage. The building has such a fascinating history I felt compelled to include it in City Love.
MP: Lost in Love will be released on May 3. Can you tell us anything about what to expect in it?
SC: You can expect the unexpected! And more big cliffhangers at the end, of course :)
Thanks again to Susane for this awesome interview.
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