Simone Elkeles, author of the Perfect Chemistry series (including Chain Reaction, which you can begin reading on Figment) answered Figmenter Kay Fraser’s most burning questions. Take a look at what she has to say about Alex, Carlos, and Luis – and the smoking hot actors who play them in the book trailer!
How did you come up with the Fuentes brothers’ story? Was it planned that the second and third book would follow the first in the arc of the Fuentes family from the beginning?
Perfect Chemistry is based off of my rival high school in a suburb of Chicago, called Highland Park High School. The town has a very large Hispanic community on one side, and people living in mansions on Lake Michigan on the other. I wanted to explore what it would be like when someone from one side of the tracks fell for someone from the other side. I also wanted to show that while we might look different on the outside, we’re not all that different when it comes right down to it. I sold Perfect Chemistry as a one-book contract, but always wanted to write Carlos and Luis’s stories. I was so thrilled that my publisher, Walker Books, agreed! I had no clue what the two other stories would be about, but I knew they’d be romances with the underlying theme of family and brotherhood.
I love how you mix English and Spanish in this series. What made you decide to mix languages when writing the Perfect Chemistry series? Are you bilingual?
I decided to mix languages because I really wanted the book to be authentic. Alex and the rest of his friends and family would mix Spanish and English when they talked, so I wanted that in my book. Unfortunately I’m not bilingual, so I’ve had a lot of help consulting with friends from Mexico, Hispanic teens, and the dean from the Spanish department at Loyola University.
Who is your favorite YA writer right now? Which book would you recommend that everybody read?
That’s such a hard question. I loved the Hunger Games and am super excited to see the movie. Suzanne Collins is a genius writer, and I had the pleasure to meet her in person last year. A lot of publishers send me books that haven’t come out yet (in hopes that I’ll like it enough to give the book a blurb) so I’ve been reading a lot of yet-to-be-published books. The book Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally is great, and will be released soon. I’d definitely recommend that book!
As an author, how would you explain your writing process to fans that are dying to know. How do characters come to life? How does the plot develop? Do you talk your ideas over with friends or do you keep it all in your head? Do you write a rough outline?
I wish I had some sort of secret writing process to reveal! Really, I sit down and write “Chapter 1” and go from there. I don’t work off an outline because I want the characters and plot to have a chance to grow as I write. My process always works out for me but sometimes it means I have to completely scrap my book and start over! I do have a bunch of friends who are my critique partners, but I usually talk to them about the book when I’m stuck or when I’m done…then they tell me what’s not working and the rewrites I have to do. I hate them at the time, but they’re always right.
From all the books and series you have written so far, which one is your favorite and why?
That’s like asking me which is my favorite child. It’s SO hard to pick. To be honest, Perfect Chemistry was magical to write and from the start I knew it was something really special. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t sucked into the story as much as I was – and I mean guys as well as girls. Writing Chain Reaction and Rules of Attraction was just as rewarding. I love the Fuentes family as if they’re real and am so emotionally involved with the characters; it’s no wonder that I had to create book trailers with actors who really looked and acted like Alex, Carlos, and Luis. The How to Ruin series was a blast because my heroine Amy was such a brat. She is the one character who is most “like me” and I love getting her into awful situations. The most emotional story to write was the Leaving Paradise series, because it was about an accident and the result of it.
What would you want your fans to know about you that maybe they aren’t aware of?
I will be writing another book soon and am so happy that my fans are so passionate and loyal. I hope my fans already know how grateful I am, but if they don’t…I AM TRULY GRATEFUL! I wouldn’t be where I am today without my fans, and their emails and letters really inspire me to write more books.