By: CD Bell
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Eager to escape her small hometown, high school junior Nessa Kurland is focused on winning a college scholarship for cross-country running. A chance encounter with a trapped wolf while out on a run leads to powerful and frightening changes, and one day, Nessa is transformed into a full werewolf. Now Nessa must navigate the challenges of high school while coming face to face with true human darkness, as she tries to make peace with her new wild nature.
An Interview With CD Bell
1) If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?
Gum wrappers—I always think they’re going to come in handy. Stubby pencils that I have developed an emotional relationship with during book revisions. My phone, which I try to protect via a maryoshka doll-like system of screen protector, phone case, and quilted phone bag—somehow it’s covered with sticky candy bar detritus anyway. Library books. Grocery lists. A Dr. Seuss eraser and a teeny-weeny watercolor set. Keys to my house, my bike, my car, and my sister’s.
2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’m a pantser but Weregirl may have turned me into a plotter. Collaborating with the fabulous Chooseco team, an outline was a necessity and I learned so much from them about how to create compelling story cues that I’m dying to try outlining for my next project. One thing I recall from the outlining process: Chooseco publisher Shannon Gilligan wanted to see Nessa’s gnarled hand on a doorknob as she transformed. That kind of moment can really anchor a scene. Outlines that are that compelling and real-feeling—bring ‘em on!
3) What is your number one writing tip?
Follow the love. Always be aware of what your characters love and are going after and what you love in a story. If you’re not writing about those things, you’re probably not writing the story that needs to be told.
4) Describe Weregirl in 5 words or less
Girl wolf follows her dream.
5) What are some fun facts you can share about the characters from Weregirl or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book? (~3 or more)
When Nessa was a little girl, she used to threaten to beat up the mean boys on the bus.
6) Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?
The story was created by a team of five women at Chooseco, a small publisher in Vermont (the bulk of their business is the Choose Your Own Adventure line). They spent a week on a retreat in Canada and came out with the idea of Michigan and wolves and an ambitious track runner, a wolf bite, a transformation. They called me a month or two later to ask if I would write the story and I couldn’t wait to get started. The idea of a high school girl who is fierce and ambitious and loves animals and nature—she was a character I knew it would be a joy to work with.
7) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?
My favorite character to write is Chay because he is unpredictable and refuses to take responsibility for Nessa. He doesn’t feel he owes her anything. He says whatever is on his mind. He is brilliantly smart and arrogant as well. Unpredictable. Sincere. Impulsive. Powerful.
The character who gave me the most trouble was Cassian. I kept making him more sympathetic than I wanted him to be. Ultimately this worked out okay, as I think characters are more interesting when they aren’t all good or all bad. But still, I cut a lot of stuff where he was way too nice to Nessa and she started to fall for him too hard.
8) If you could ask a character of your choice from WEREGIRL one question, what would it be?
I would ask Luc how it felt when Nessa started unofficially going out with Cassian.
9) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
I think I’m the most proud of the scene where Nessa first fully transforms into a wolf. I didn’t know how I was going to show the transformation happening and then it just came about in the way she describes the woods all around her. Because this is the way it always feels to be outside in the woods for me—you notice your heartbeat and the sound of your steps on the trail and the wind in the trees and limbs cracking or squirrels rustling. Nessa noticed these things from a wolf’s perspective, and then she noticed that she was noticing in that way. That rang true to me.
10) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book?
Weregirl was really fun to write and because of the brilliant Chooseco outline, I was a believer in every scene that was there. However, in early drafts we occasionally had one too many track races or scenes of Nessa’s transformation. It was a sign that we needed to condense when I was writing a scene I felt like I had written before. And condensing two scenes into one would be funny because some of the races started to get confused—like a poorly edited movie, we’d see Nessa burst out of the woods, and then three paragraphs later she’d burst out all over again.
11) Are there any hints that you can give for what is next for Nessa?
I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that when Chayton said he wasn’t worried about Paravida as much as he was worried about all the mutant wolves that had been released into the wild…that’s probably giving an indication of where all of this is going to go.
An Interview With Nessa Kurland
1) So, Nessa, tell me a little bit about yourself.
I guess I’m just your average high school junior. I’m into cross-country and hanging with my best friend, and oh yeah, I happen to sometimes transform into a wolf.
2) What is your favorite thing to do? What you would choose to do if given a day free of responsibility.
I love running and I love working with animals and I love helping my mom take care of my siblings (even though sometimes I don’t exactly want to) but my favorite thing in the world is probably running in the woods with my new friends. (Read WEREGIRL to find out who they are.)
3) Tell us about your best friend.
I’m best friends with Bree. We’re not that similar–she’s shorter than me and has curly hair and hates exercise and is WAY too into guys, but we are the same when it comes to the important stuff. I always know she has my back and when something seems funny to me, I know Bree’s gonna laugh too. Some of the best times of high school so far are driving around in her big old car, listening to music, and laughing our heads off at silly things no one else understands.
4) Tell us something that the readers may not know from just reading WEREGIRL.
One thing you might not know about me from reading WEREGIRL is that I sometimes wonder a lot about my dad. Don’t tell my mom–she’s doing such a great job of making us forget that our dad is gone, I don’t want her to know that anything’s missing. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to talk to him. Would he be proud of me?
5) What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? The best? Why?
The worst thing that ever happened to me is getting bit by a wolf when I was running in the woods. It might also be the best. I haven’t totally decided. I don’t think I’d go back and change it if I could, though.
6) What motivates you?
I love my hometown Tether but I don’t want to stay here after high school. We’re not rich, so I’m going to need a scholarship if I’m going to college, so I’m working as hard as I can at cross-country, trying to make that happen. That’s what gets me up in the morning for that extra training run.
7) What is next for you?
Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but it has to do with a guy… He’s, well, awesome. That’s all I’ll say right now.
About C. D. Bell:
When she’s not biking the streets of Brooklyn, NY, you can find C. D. Bell writing in a decrepit RV clinging to the side of a hill in upstate New York, trying to teach herself to watercolor, or inventing her own recipes. She is a voracious reader of anything and everything fantasy, supernatural, or romance. And she swears that the monsters she often writes about are not real– at least she hopes not.
Created by a talented team of six female writers and inspired by the working tradition of television writers, C. D. Bell is a Chooseco author pseudonym developed with teen author Cathleen Davitt Bell, who has written I Remember You [Knopf 2015], among other novels for young adults.
The second installment of the WEREGIRL trilogy is already in the works.
Chooseco publishes the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Widely commended for its appeal to reluctant readers, the interactive, multiple-choice multiple-ending series is the 4th-bestselling series for children ever published, with more than 265 million copies translated into 38 languages. Chooseco has sold over 10 million copies since the series re-launch in 2006. Weregirl represents Chooseco’s first foray into full-length, non-interactive young adult fiction.
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