Interview with Meredith Zeitlin

February 24, 2012

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles. In case you're wondering whether any of Kelsey's experiences are based on Meredith's own, the answer is NO WAY. When she was fourteen, Meredith looked and behaved perfectly at all times, was never in a single embarrassing situation, and always rode to school on her very own unicorn. If you want to know more about Meredith's voiceover work, check out

In one or two sentences, explain why we should pick up your book.

You should pick up my book because you want to read about the slightly-bonkers adventures of a girl who is probably a lot like you - uncertain, excited, prone to making mistakes, but willing to learn from them. Also because you want world peace and happiness for all - this book is the key! Go get it right away!

What inspired you to become a writer?

I've just been one, really - since I was very little. I come from a family of writers and readers, and books were always everywhere. It sort of came naturally, I think. But my aunt Rhea (Kohan) is a novelist, and her books are hilarious. She definitely inspired me to try my hand at a book.

Do you usually work with an outline, or just write your stories without much more than an idea?

No outlines - far too disciplined for me! Even in school I used to cobble outlines together after I'd finished my papers, and then only if I had to hand them in. I just sit down and write whatever comes to mind. Not a perfect system, but it's all I've got!

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters certainly was an entertaining read full of horrifically embarrassing moments that were incredibly amusing. Where did the idea for the story come from? Did a specific scene or character pop into your mind first?

Well, most of those moments really were based on actual events from my own horrifically embarrassing life (yes, I know what my bio says. I can't give everything away up front, right??). I get into a lot of pretty ridiculous situations somehow. The Loehmann's scene, which was originally much longer, was the first thing that came to mind, though - I had plenty to say about that, having been dragged to that store against my will for my entire childhood. (Note: I totally love Loehmann's now that I'm old. Yay Loehmann's!) Kelsey and her mom were the characters that I knew exactly how to write from the beginning, so that's where I started. Then the rest of the story unfolded as I went along.

Whilst writing Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, did you have any characters write themselves into the story or attempt to take over?

Well, Travis's character got much bigger for a while, and then got trimmed down again, but I was always in control of her antics. I think the characters or moments that surprised me by having a bigger or different part than I'd originally planned happened pretty organically. JoJo's storyline changed a lot; her being gay came to me well into the editing process, and it just made sense. Same for the Ben/Valentina angle. So no - I didn't let the characters escape my iron grasp!

What was the hardest scene you had to write? 

There were a few scenes I worked on for many, many drafts to try and get just right - Kelsey's first meeting with Ben was one, and the scene where Kelsey ends up in a bedroom alone with Sam at the party was another. But the opening chapter was the hardest for me. It's the first impression the reader will have of the book and the characters, which is SO important, but I also had to work in a lot of information and set up the story without it getting boring or expositional. Probably because it got rewritten so many times, it got harder and harder to tell if it was any good. So that was difficult. Hopefully it came out okay - I can't really tell anymore!

Do you have any other books planned or that you are in the process of writing?

I wrote a children's picture book that I'm hoping will find a home soon, and a friend and I wrote a super-creepy horror feature. (So, some pretty different stuff!) I'm also working on another YA novel. It's not a sequel to Freshman Year..., but it takes place in the same world, so you'll see some of the characters again.


What is your favourite sweet food?

Do you take shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotel rooms?

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Chronic lateness. It drives me crazy.

What book are you most anticipating for this year?
The Twelve, by Justin Cronin.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Hm. Maybe the ability to shape-shift. This or That?

Computer or Television?
Well, a computer can function as a TV, but not the other way around... so I guess computer.

Vampire or Werewolves?
Vampires. I'd certainly rather BE a vampire than a werewolf!

Coke or Pepsi?
Coke. Extra points for Cherry Coke.

Blind or deaf?
Oh, this is so hard. I don't think I could bear to be blind, but not being able to listen to music - or laughter! - would be crushing... If I HAD to choose, I'd say deaf. Hopefully that won't ever happen.

Harry Potter or Twilight?
HARRY POTTER. No contest.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! It has been a pleasure to have you on Little Book Owl.


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