When I sent Stacy Kramer a random tweet asking for an interview, she didn’t hesitate to say yes! Stacy, along with co-author Valerie Thomas, have recently released From What I Remember. Read their bios and you’ll see why I was so excited to pick their brains. As a former producer, Stacy has had the privilege of working on some pretty amazing projects, including one of my favourites, Igby Goes Down. Valerie has had the opportunity to contribute to Philadelphia, Adaptation, and The Silence of the Lambs. So, needless to say, this savvy writing duo know how to pull a story together! I was uber impressed with their guts; both women pursued their dreams without hesitation. So thanks girls, for taking a chance on an unknown blogger.
Learn below how Stacy ended up in Paris to study art, how Valerie approaches scriptwriting, and how they are carving a new and unique place for themselves in the YA industry by tapping into a much overlooked genre: comedy!
Valerie and I met while both producing movies in New York. I had recently moved to New York City from Los Angeles and Val was one of my first friends. We bonded immediately over shared film and food tastes. On a whim, we both decided to try our hand at writing a screenplay. Having worked so many years to help screenwriters develop their stories we were both feeling similarly frustrated. We wrote a movie called 6E (as in SEXY, get it?). It sold to Twentieth Century Fox and things snowballed from there.
What inspired From What I Remember?
FROM WHAT I REMEMBER was inspired by our shared desire to tell a contemporary teen story with action, romance and adventure. As huge fans of YA literature, we hadn’t seen much out there with that combination and were both finding ourselves a little tired of reading so much dystopian and paranormal. We wanted to tell a story that would feel like a really fun teen movie such as CLUELESS or FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF, but with an emotional punch to it as well.
Stacy, what gave you the courage to enroll at Sorbonne, Paris? That’s a very gutsy move. Even more gutsy, you changed your major to art history and creative writing! Care to share?
I was studying at the University of Michigan and majoring in Economics, due to my father’s influence. However, after a semester, it became crystal clear that Econ was hardly my interest or forte. Instead of just changing majors, I decided I wanted a complete change of scenery. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study but I loved French literature and I spoke French so after perusing study abroad programs, I decided to enroll in a Wesleyan program in Paris where I would study French Literature and Language. It was the best decision of my life. I learned so much about myself. Things that shaped who I am today. I discovered that I love to write, that I love art and French culture and traveling and I’ve been doing all of those things ever since.
Valerie, do you have different writing habits for each genre (screenwriting vs. prose)?
I do have different habits for each genre. Screenwriting is far more formal and rigid than novel writing. You rely on dialogue for a lot of the storytelling, and you can’t get inside someone’s head very easily as you can with a novel. So in many ways it’s a more disciplined, less loose writing experience. I prefer writing novels for that very reason – you can go in practically any direction, you can change voices, you can let your story fly off cliffs if you want to, provided you figure out how to make it work. Both require a lot of organization and planning, but I think novel writing is still more flexible.
How would you like to make your mark in the YA industry?
We thoroughly enjoyed writing FROM WHAT I REMEMBER. It was probably the best writing experience of both our lives (although we’ve both written many other things, both together and separately). We hope that FROM WHAT I REMEMBER will leave its mark on the reader and we hope to keep writing contemporary YA with a mixture of comedy, romance, emotional depth and fun plotting. Fingers crossed people keep reading our work. That’ll be good enough for us!
What’s the best way to attract a literary agent? Any tips?
We may not be the best people to answer this question as we segued from producing to screenwriting to book writing so we knew a lot of agents already and had been represented in other realms. We didn’t have to query at all. We just submitted our book to agents we already knew and found a match pretty quickly. We’re so grateful for our quick transition and know it’s usually a lot harder so we thank our lucky stars (and our agent) on a daily basis! Having said all that, the one thing we do know is that you can never, ever give up. If you want to write and you get rejected, just keep writing and keep submitting. We have so many friends who were rejected multiple times only to find success on the tenth, twentieth or thirtieth try and now many of them are far more successful than we are. So it doesn’t matter how it all begins. Writing is a very long journey. Just get started and keep at it and one day, you’ll get there.