My favorite part about bookstore readings is the end. No, not just because I can finally get off the stage (writers were not meant to be stared at- those are called actors), but because at the end of each reading I get to congratulate myself for not passing out and then answer fan questions. But since not all my fans can come to my readings, I have gathered some fan questions to answer right here, right now, just for you!
Question #1: Calina in Carmel, CA
“Do you hear your own voice when you write or the voices of your characters? I know it’s a silly question, but I always wondered because when I read your book I totally heard your voice for Abbey.”
Abbey Brooks, the main character of my lesbian YA series, The You Know Who Girls, is such a ridiculously naïve dork at times, so I can totally see why you think of me. One of my favorite characters’ voices is Garrett. Garrett is Abbey’s go-to gal for info on all things gay. Garrett knows things, naughty things, useful things, and top-secret things, but she delivers her advice in the most jaw-dropping way and sometimes she makes me bust out laughing when I write her lines. When I’m not writing, I miss all the voices.
One of the nice things people say about my books is that I seem to successfully capture the way teens talk. This could be the fact that I teach high school, but mostly I think it’s because I am really young at heart and refuse to be a “grown up.” Want proof? Here’s a pic of me at school. It’s not Halloween. I was dressed up to go and sing backup in another teacher’s room. Totally normal. Yes, I just happened to have all of this in my classroom.
QUESTION #2: Bob from Seaside, CA
“Okay, Annameekee, here’s one I’m sure some teenagers would want to ask — How old were you when you began to realize that you were a lesbian, and how long did it take for you to become comfortable with that fact?”
Holy cow! This question is worthy of its very own post, but I’ll try to tackle it here. There were certainly signs that I more-than-friend liked girls, but I didn’t see them as such until way after I came out in high school. For example, when I was nine, I was completely obsessed with my camp counselor from Sweden. She was gorgeous and wore a white bathing suit to the pool every day. At the time, I didn’t think about it as a gay thing; I just thought she was super cool. Looking back, clearly I was crushing hard. I got my first teenage girl crush the summer after freshman year and I was very upset by it. I really didn’t want to be gay. Things were waaaay different back then: no GSAs, no Ellen and Portia, and no gay marriage, at all, anywhere. But after telling my sister’s best friend (she was someone I trusted), she was so positive about it, so I didn’t think I was an awful/weird/confused person anymore. I dated girls in high school, and felt pretty comfortable about who I was, but didn’t come out to my mom until junior year and my dad until I started college. Coming out, no matter how old I get, is still hard sometimes. As a teacher, I’m out, but I get really nervous about it every year. You just never know how people are going to react. My students are always pretty awesome about it, but the parents are sometimes awful, so I have to be careful and calculated in how I come out and when. (Here’s a pic of me being totally happy and out with my students at a gay-marriage rally. My students are so incredible.)
QUESTION #4: Mea in Aromas, CA
“How do you approach a publisher with a book idea? What do you have to have together? How do you present it? How do you get in there?”
Annameekee Answers: Oh boy. Where to begin? There are books and books and more books on this topic. So I’m going to post a pic of THE BEST book to buy if you are interested in publishing your writing. It tells you everything you need to know: Publishers, agents, how to submit, and advice from experts!
QUESTION #5: From Dinah in Corralitos, CA
“How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?”
Annameekee Answers: Hmm, funny thing is, I used to HATE to write creatively! Bleh! No thanks! Then, a friend of mine convinced me to take a short story writing class at Pima Community College, in Tucson, AZ. I was 19, and after that class, I started winning awards and scholarships to conferences and I was like, hey, maybe I could do this for reals! (Thanks, Professor Meg Files!) Sure, I still have a day job teaching high school English, but maybe someday I’ll be a writer for my day job! Cray cray!! (Note to self- move out of California if you ever want to be able to afford to be a writer for your day job. Darn you perfect weather and ocean breezes!!)
QUESTION #6: From Lynn in New York
“How difficult was it for you to get published?”
Annameekee Answers: I would not wish my trying-to-get published experience on my worst enemy- not even on that meany-head from high school who called me a Dyke in the hallway when I was already having the saddest day of my then tragically self-imposed drama-laden life (you know who you are). In other words, it sucked- every single part of it: the querying, the rejection letters, the teasers, the disappearing editors, the disappearing agents, the recession, the waiting, the waiting, and the waiting. Reading the book above helped a little, but the writing of the book is always a bazillion times better than the publishing of the book. However, I’m sure you, and everyone else in the world, will have an easier time than I did.
QUESTION #7: Angelo in San Diego, CA
“Your style has changed so much in the last 10 years, who is your fashion icon?”
Annameekee Answers: Thank goodness my fashion sense has changed since we met ten years ago, Angelo! In my first years of teaching, you might describe my style as Ross holiday clearance sweater meets “let’s see what doesn’t have a stain on it” meets casual Monday-Friday. Then two things happened: 1. After a few years of teaching I could afford new clothes, and 2. I discovered that high heels make me feel fun and happy and make me EVEN TALLER! Total bonus! Banana Republic is my go to for all things long/tall and classic. The outfit I have on in these pics of me at my Tacoma, WA, reading is BR from head to toe. I would have posted a “before” pic of me, but those have been burned or deleted.
QUESTION #8: From Gretchen in Tacoma, WA
“When you are writing does your mind wander off to things like ‘When can I wear my new pumps?’”
Annameekee Answers: Hey, are you a mind reader? Lol. Actually, when I write, I’m totally involved in it and get lost in my little pretend world of Gila High. In fact, I sometimes get so excited about what I am writing that I start to type super fast and super loud and apparently annoy people on planes and coffee shops. Perhaps I should put up a sign: “Creative writing in progress. Sit at your
Also, here is a pic of newest pair of pumps! I love them. There are so Dorothy meet Diana Ross. I can’t wait to wear them again. So sparkly!
Question #9: From Evelyn in Sebastopol, CA
“How many hot dogs on a stick did you get to eat for research purposes?”
Annameekee Answers: Oh, Hot Dog on Stick! Ever since they came out with a vegetarian version, I’ve been hitting them pretty hard. I like to put a big glob of ketchup next to a big glob of mustard so that when I dip, I get equal amounts of mustard and ketchup. It’s an art.
(This is the most awesome HDOAS stand! It’s at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk- a short bike ride from my house)
Question #10: From AJ in Austin, TX
“Why did you decide to spell Abbey with an “e”? And, have you seen Jef’s chapstick?”
Annameekee Answers: Ah, yes- character name selection. I own at least four baby name books, but no babies. These books are my go to when it’s character development time. But, for Abbey with an e, I chose to take her name from a Beatles album because her dad was a huge Beatles fan. So, that’s the reason for the e. As far as Jef’s chapstick is concerned: I am one-hundred percent sure that chapsticks are made up of the souls of previously captured dragons who cannot stand to live a life of confinement, routine, and mundane reliability. I have never, in all my years of chapstick owning, successfully kept a tube until its finality. You just can’t hold them back from their true destinies. Or, it could be that Jef’s chapstick is in the bottom of my purse with the hairclips, receipts used as gum depositories, pens, pennies, mocha shake punch card, and two hot-pink paperclips.
Question #11: From Jef in North Georgia
“What’s the scariest thing you do as a YA writer and how do you overcome your fear?”
Annameekee Answers: Jef, I’m pretty much freaked out during the entire process of writing my YA books. However, one of the scariest parts is writing for some of the most critical and well-read groups of readers on the planet: teenagers. I want to do them proud and write books that are funny and relevant and not “old” sounding. So, that why I secretly listen to the way my students talk to one another and make note of the words that they use. What else I have noticed by eavesdropping is that most teen struggles and concerns are really timeless. Just like when I was in high school, there’s still heartache, betrayal, new love, bffs, first kisses, and backstabbing girls who try to destroy you. And there will always be that super frightening/mean teacher, that party where everything went wrong, and that really bad decision that changed lives. Except for the words they use to describe things and the mode of communication, not much has changed since I was in high school in Tucson, AZ.
In addition, Jef, I have not seen your chapstick, but here’s a pic of me with a teenager who apparently approves of whatever it is I’m doing! Yay!
Question #12: From Kate in Tucson, AZ
“What is the one thing, more than anything, that you hope your writing might accomplish, influence, encourage… you get the idea.”
Annameekee Answers: I decided to write this series because of two main reasons: 1. The lesbian YA that was available when I started teaching was really short (like, too short) and it was kind of depressing, and 2. The lesbian YA characters in these books were all white. Like, only melodramatic white girls are lesbian? Hmm, I don’t think so. That was not my experience where I grew up, and it wasn’t the experience of my students in my classroom either.
So, I decided, “Well, if you want your students to have a funny lesbian YA book with diverse characters and an uplifting plot, then you better write it yourself.” So, I sat my butt in front of my computer, night after night after night, and wrote one. I have always intended this to be a series and have tried to provide humorous and diverse stories to readers of all ages. I want readers to feel happy after reading my books. I want them to lol in public. I want them to feel really damn good about who they are and where they are going. My dream is that my books find themselves in every school library because every kid should have access to books where they see characters like them, going through similar situations. Whichever letter you are in the longest acronym on the planet (LGBTQAAII…hope I didn’t miss one), you deserve to have good books that touch your heart and make you spray milk out of your nose mid-gulp (that’s my signature dinner table move, by the way).
The truth is, I was once that confused, scared girl in high school who went to my school library and local bookstores in search of the perfect book to make it all better- to help me understand that I was okay and life was actually quite kick ass and awesome. Sadly, I came up empty handed. I write these books so that no you-know-who girl, no matter her age, will ever have to feel that way again.
Well, that’s it! Those are just some of the questions that my super dooper coolio fans asked me on Facebook. If you have more questions, fire away! You can contact me on my website (www.annmeekee.com) or facebook (www.facebook.com/annameekee.hesik), or on twitter (@youknowwhogirls). Or, hey, bake cookies and I’ll come running! Well, I’ll walk briskly. I run like Phoebe from Friends– worth googling if you have the time- so I try not to run in public very often.
And here’s one last pic! This is the cover of the second book in the series! Driving Lessons is slated for release on December 1st, 2014. Preorder today!
With love, respect, glitter and rainbows,
Annameekee Hesik grew up in Ojai, CA, on a healthy diet of Pippi Longstocking books, dipped ice cream cones, and Schwinn bikes. She came out when she was fifteen and has since become obsessed with rainbow everything. After surviving high school in Tucson, AZ, she went to college where she changed her major five times. She earned her BA in English Literature from UC Davis and her MA in Education from UC Santa Cruz, and she is thrilled she finally decided to become a high school English teacher (with a background in Anthropology, American Sign Language, World History, and Environmental Biology). When she isn’t helping students enjoy the gift of literature, she spends her time in Santa Cruz, CA, walking her dogs, reading in her hammock, riding bikes with her wife, slurping down mocha shakes, and writing books that she hopes will help lesbian and questioning teens feel like they are not the only girl loving girls in the world. Her debut YA novel, The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year, was awarded a Benjamin Franklin Book Award and is the first book in her You Know Who Girls series.