Q&A with Geeta Schrayter

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Geeta Scrayter, whose debut novel Reaching Riverdale released on September 10th from The Little Things Publishing! Many thanks to Geeta for taking time to chat with me, and to Caroline over at TLT for setting things up. Also, be sure to swing by tomorrow when my review of Reaching Riverdale is posted! Now then, grab a drink and a snack and get to know Geeta...

A Word's Worth: Okay, so I absolutely loved Reaching Riverdale -- and also twinged a bit at just how much of myself I saw in Belle (which is a good thing!)

Geeta Schrayter: Really? That makes me so happy to hear! I'm SO glad you related to her

AWW: You obviously know how small-towns work and were able to create an environment and characters that breathed on the page -- how much did your own experience(s) help you create that world?

GS: I grew up in a couple of different towns... all of which were relatively small. So I think the experiences I had living there definitely helped me create Riverdale. Along with that, my family has a summer home in the mountains of Vermont that I positively love to visit - my experiences there certainly helped as well. The details in the story don't stem from any particular experiences... my own life didn't play out like Annebelle's does, but I'd say the overall occurrences are influenced from a lot of what I've been a part of or at least seen growing up

AWW: A conglomeration of observations channeled into one 'perfect' town :)

GS: Oh I like that! That could be the slogan for Riverdale's creation :)

AWW:  With baking being such a constant theme (thus why I read it at lunch: made. me. so. hungry!) -- I've gotta ask: Do you bake? And what's your favorite baked goodie?

GS: I do bake. Baking is one of those themes that definitely stemmed from actual experience. Good old fashioned baking is one of my favorite things. When the holidays roll around, I can't wait to make dozens of cookies and all sorts of pies. I love looking through my grandmother's recipe box and baking something she used to make. It's like she's still here! That being said, I just started baking vegan, gluten free cupcakes and they're absolutely divine (I'm sure there are plenty of skeptics out there but I'd gladly prove anyone wrong... they're SO good!). But one of my favorite things to make is a batch of my Almost Famous Ebony & Ivory Cookies.

AWW: Those did sound amazing! As did the blueberry-cream cheese pies...I was like "mmm...oh, I'm eating hummus", haha

GS: Hummus is delicious too! But don't worry, you can justify a blueberry cream cheese pie... after all... it has fruit.

AWW: and Cream Cheese is good protein! ;)

GS: Exactly! I'm an expert at justifying various desserts

AWW: I think we're long lost sisters, haha

GS: Wouldn't surprise me in the least! Haha...Eat the hummus first for the heath food quotient, then justify some pie. Perfect plan.

AWW: Love it! Yes, must stash this away and use it...Random topic jump alert: What's your writing process like? Are you a plan-it-out girl, or a write-and-see-what-happens girl?

GS: I'm a write-and-see-what-happens girl who always tried to be a plan-it-out girl... it just never happens. I do usually get ideas for various scenes, characters, plot lines and the likes all throughout the day... when I'm running, driving around, taking a shower... so I always write those down and plan on using them somewhere within the story. But I never really know where they'll actually come in to play. Similarly, after a day of writing I'll always have an idea for what I might want to happen next. Sometimes it goes as I plan, but most of the time it changes on me.

AWW: Gotcha. Keep a stash of ideas and see what happens :) I like that! It also lets characters develop and "live"...

GS: Exactly. Characters are a great example. In Reaching Riverdale, for example, I pictured Annebelle a certain way before I began, having particular struggles and having gone through certain things, but when I actually got into writing, she changed on me. It sort of got to the point where I didn't even really have to think "ok I want Annebelle to have this attribute" - it just happened. It was obvious. Like "well duh, Annebelle IS like that."

AWW: That's awesome -- and also make sense in terms of how...real...Annebelle comes across. Was it hard to end the story? Do you think you'd write a sequel - or another book set in Riverdale?

GS: Actually, the ending was another one of those things that didn't go as planned. I had originally thought I'd make the story run through to the end of summer in Riverdale, but again, it sort of took on a mind of its own, and ending it where I did just made sense. But I always like to leave some loose ends or areas that could be developed further in another story - in another interview I think I referred to them as "literary breadcrumbs." I guess I'll have to wait and see how Reaching Riverdale is received before deciding whether or not to venture back there. But there are a couple of characters who I could definitely go back and focus on, like, say, Meredith or Clara. I hope it's received well... because, honestly, there are a couple of things I left open because I've had thoughts for another story... before this one was even finished!

AWW: I like that: "literary breadcrumbs"...yeah, both of those ladies would make a great story in their own right! And since Riverdale is so small and connected, we could get another peek at Belle's adventures! I hope it's received well too! I want to read more! :)

GS: Well then we know right off the bat I'd have at least one interested reader! That's a start :)

AWW: Speaking of readers -- tough question: What 5 books do you think everyone should read?

GS: Oh. That's a tough one, because everyone's tastes are so diverse... but I'm a big advocate of the classics. Pride & Prejudice is my absolute favorite story, so that'd have to be one because I'm so partial... I've even gotten a couple of guys I know to read it over the years. Then... To Kill A Mockingbird, definitely.

AWW: Yup, definitely long-lost sisters: I'm a major Pride & Prejudice girl!

GS: Love it! I'll have to send you a photo of my Pride & Prejudice shelf. Okay Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would be another. Then, hmm... you're right this is hard. There are so many! I have to say... Uncle Tom's Cabin, too

AWW: haha, I love the tough questions ;)

GS: Haha well you've got me thinking over here so well done...you make me want to quote Ever After here

AWW: haha, yes!

GS: "I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens!" I'm going to make myself pick one that's not a classic... yet. And I'll say The White Tiger

AWW: ooooh, love the title - I will have to look this one up!

GS: It's by Aravind Adiga. It's definitely a bit different from what I'm usually drawn to... classics, or happy stories, romance and all that, but it's still good. I think it won The Booker prize

AWW: Definitely going to be looking it up :) Okay, after such tough questioning...Here's an easy one: Favorite place to read & snack to enjoy while doing so?

GS: Hmm I end up reading in my room a lot, or sprawled out on the couch. But I also like reading in parks or coffee shops... I've had conversations start up with strangers when I'm just sitting and reading somewhere (not always welcome interruptions, but I like meeting people) Snack-wise, well, I can't say I know! I devour the books I'm reading so I have no room for actual food. I'm trying to think, there must be something... but truly, I get so into reading, I don't usually have any attention to spare for eating

AWW: :) This means you pick really good books!

GS: Or I'm just a dork who gets really into reading haha. If I were to have a reading snack, it'd have to be something you can eat without looking... like... grapes or pretzels.

AWW: Good choices :)

GS: I had to think about it. I could have just as easily said chocolate chips.

AWW: LOL! I like m&ms myself ;)

GS: Ah, perfect!

AWW: Thanks so much for meeting with me - it's been a blast getting to know you and finding a long-lost sister!

GS: No no, thank you! I had fun, and again, I'm so happy you enjoyed the story.

Did you have as much fun reading out chat as we did having it? I hope so! If you'd like to learn more about Geeta, check out her website or twitter! And, of course, come back by to see my review if Reaching Riverdale tomorrow.

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