Exclusive interview with bestselling YA fiction writer, Susane Colasanti

I realised long ago that my biggest inspirations in life are good writers. I don’t mean writers that could just tell a good story or even those who write well. I mean the kind of writers that can give you a book so great that it is truer than if it had really happened to you, and after you are finished reading it you feel that all that happened, happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. It is the hardest thing for writers to give to people; there are few people who can do it so well. But the writers that can secure a strong place in my heart and inspire me.

For me, one of these writers is  Susane Colasanti. The bestselling Young Adult fiction author has been giving us beautiful and powerful novels for years, teaching us the best and worst that life has to offer. Through her novels she teaches about always having hope, finding the good and positive things in the world around us, and mostly about finding the light inside the darkness. Her words reach both young people and adults alike, with her messages of love and never giving up reaching into all of our minds and hearts.

Since becoming a full time author in 2007, Colasanti’s books include: When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, Keep Holding On, All I Need, Now and Forever, and the City Love trilogy. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from New York University. Before writing, Colasanti was a high school science teacher for ten years.

In an exclusive, wide ranging interview, Colasanti talks about her career, her inspirations and her books, including advice she would give to her younger self.

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When talking about writing, Colasanti spoke about how her readers are at the heart of her inspiration, and that helping them feel less alone in the world is what she knew she always wanted to do. She says:

“My readers are why I write. When I was 12 years old, I had a Knowing that my purpose in life as a grownup would be to reach out to teens and help them feel less alone. Even in 7th grade I already knew that my teen years were going to be the worst time in my life. And I was right.”

She went on to say that writing was always a dream job for her, just as teaching was, only on a bigger scale, and the idea of helping young people during the hardest time of their lives through her writing was the motivation and inspiration for her first book. She tells us:

“Before I became a full-time author in 2007, I was a high school science teacher for ten years. Back then I didn’t get the memo that you could be more than one thing. Teaching was my dream job, a career I thought I would have until I retired, while being an author was my dream bigger job. The idea that I could write books for teens that would help them survive the hardest times in their lives inspired me to start writing the first draft of When It Happens in grad school. I loved teaching and being with my people all day. But when the opportunity to switch careers from teacher to author presented itself, I had to take it. Connecting with my students directly as a teacher was awesome, but as an author I can reach many more teens.”

When we flipped the scenario and asked Colasanti what writers inspired her, her answer included a range of writers and authors from all genres. She says:

“There are so many authors that have helped me learn how to write, have helped me survive hard times, and offered me light when I could see nothing but darkness. I was obsessed with Stephen King in 8th grade. Reading all of his books in the 80s helped me learn the mechanics of story style and structure without even realizing I was learning. Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton were also huge influences in my early teens. Jodi Picoult, Jonathan Tropper, Tom Perrotta, Garrison Keillor, Nick Hornby, and Anne Tyler have all been amazing inspirations over the years. Laurie Halse Anderson and Blake Nelson were among the first contemporary YA authors I read, and they are my fave to this day.”

We asked Colasanti that being a YA writer, did she think that it’s important for young people to take messages from books? Messages like finding hope and believing in yourself, that can be difficult for young people in today’s society? She told us without any doubt that it is, and leaving these kind of messages in her books is her goal, and reason for writing the kind of books she does. She tells us:

“Absolutely! My goal in writing every book is to leave my readers feeling hopeful, inspired, and motivated to create their dream life. This is why my novels tend to focus on self-discovery and learning to love yourself. I write realistic love stories because I want my readers to know that they deserve to find the love they want. No one should settle for less than the love they want to find. But before you can find true love, you have to love yourself. If you are not happy with yourself or your life, no one can fill that void for you.”

She also went on to say that there are many different – but equally important – messages that she likes to put in her books. Including the idea that everything we do is connected, and we should always go through life with positive energy and looking for the light in the darkness, as this will help us achieve our biggest dreams and desires. She says:

“A major theme of my books is that everything is connected. Everything we think, say, and do affects the world around us in profound ways. This concept of manifestation ties into the powerful ways in which energy can help us turn our dreams into reality. If you envision your dream life and take steps every day toward making those dreams reality, you will eventually reach your goals. The key is to do everything with positive energy. The more positive energy you put out into the Universe, the more doors open to help you manifest your heart’s desires.”

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Not only does Colasanti show us in her novels that the idea that everything is connected combined with having a positive energy can help us turn our biggest dream into realities, she also teaches us about the existence of soulmates and true love. In her novel, When It Happens, Colasanti uses her two main protagonists, Tobey and Sara, to show us that true love is real and all that can be achieved with it. 

When asked about the deeper message to this book, Colasanti only confirms this theory, telling us that believing in soulmates is what she hopes her readers take from When It Happens, and encouraging people to always believe in love. She says:

“Soulmates are real. Boys like Tobey are real. How do I know? Because I have met more than one soulmate. And Tobey was inspired by an actual boy I knew in high school. Always believe in love.”

If she could speak to her younger self, Colasanti told us that she would tell herself not to worry about what other people think or say about her, and went on to say that young girls with a strong self-esteem are people to admire. She says:

“Stop caring what other people think. I spent way too much time worrying about what other people were saying about me. Of course it’s painful at the time. But I wish my teen self had been more confident. I know some girls with strong self-esteem who let their freak flags fly without caring if anyone is throwing shade. They are role models. By having the confidence to be yourself and let your true self shine, you can be a hero to everyone you encounter.”

Colasanti’s newest novel, Lost in Love, is book two of the enchanting City Love trilogy and will be released May 3rd later this year.

In this second book of the City Love trilogy, three girls share a Manhattan apartment the summer before college begins. Lost in Love captures the essence of summer love, self-discovery, and sisterhood, a perfect fit for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Jennifer E. Smith.

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Sadie was convinced that Austin was her soul mate, but after discovering his secret she wonders if she even knows him at all. Darcy was all about fun boy adventures with no strings attached . . . until her ex moves to New York City to win her back. Things are getting serious with Rosanna and her boyfriend, but will she be able to break free of her past and let him in? With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, this is the summer that will change their lives forever.

Told from alternating points of view, Lost in Love weaves a story of first love, first heartbreak, and everything in between.

Lost in Love is now available to pre-order on Amazon in both the UK and the US.

You can connect with Susane Colasanti and keep up to date on all the latest on upcoming book releases and events on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram. You can also follow her on GoodReads and subscribe to her newsletter on her website.

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