Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Tara Altebrando is the author of several wonderful YA novels.  Including "DREAMLAND SOCIAL CLUB" which was picked by KIRKUS REVIEWS as ONE of the BEST TEEN BOOKS OF 2012. Tara writes creative and compelling stories full of wonderfully developed characters and LOOK at those book covers. They are gorgeous!

Dreamland Social Club is by far one of my favourite reads of all time. I was completely captivated by its story (full review below). I AM obsessed with that book. This lead me to discovering her other novels and totally falling in love with the stories she weaves and the characters she creates. She's also totally cool, gracious,  charming, and witty. Seriously, I love me some Tara Altebrando.

Tara grew up on Staten Island, NY, and currently lives in Astoria, Queens, with her husband and two young daughters. For more information on Tara visit HERE .





  I am a huge fan of all of your books but I really fell in love with Dreamland Social Club. 
 What inspired you to write that? 
I've long been obsessed with old Coney Island, and with this idea that something that was so amazing—a vacation destination for millions with incredible amusement parks the likes of which the world had never seen—could basically cease to exist. The history of freak shows and fires and hotels shaped like can you NOT want to write a novel about that? Since I'm not inclined to write historical fiction, I decided to write about a girl in current day Coney, discovering its past and her own mother's past there. 

I have a huge fascination with Coney Island and your book really feed that obsession in the best way. 

 What is your writing process? 

I sit down and write pretty much every day. Or rather, I write every day that my children are in school. If I'm not feeling particularly inspired, I write anyway, and then typically I GET inspired along the way. My process often seems to involve writing one totally misguided complete draft, so I'm working on fixing that. 

Do you have ideas for all your books long before you start to write? Which comes first the characters or the storyline? 
Sometimes I feel like the book I'm writing is the last one, that I'll never have another idea. Sometimes I have two or three ideas in the queue. It changes year to year. But I typically start with ideas that are more plot driven and the characters get fleshed out in the first (or, er, second) draft. 

Do you have any strange writing habits? Writing on your head? In the middle of the night?
I sometimes will listen to the same song on repeat all day if it is the song that captures the mood of what I'm trying to write. But other than that I'm pretty boring. Before I had a family I would occasionally rent a cabin or hotel room somewhere random and lock myself away for a few days to bang out a draft or revision but these days, not so much. 

 We are huge YA fans at Addicted Souls. What inspired you to write YA? 
I was mostly inspired to write YA because I had an idea for a book that I wanted to write—about a teenager who is working at one of those historic reenactment villages the summer her mother dies—and, well, that sounds like YA to me, so I knew that's how it would be published and put out into the world. I wrote two novels for grown-ups under my maiden name first and, honestly, I've never looked back. I love YA. I love writing it, I love reading it and I love the people I've meet who also write and read it. 

 I really loved the magic in Dreamland Social Club but I was also really moved at how you were able to also incorporate some pretty heavy issues into the story. That is something that I really love about your writing and your stories. 
 How much of that mix is in the pre-work for setting up your novel? Are you always trying to find a balance between elements of your story? 

I think I strive for that mix because I also like it in what I read. But I also think that the balance is different in each of my books. I wouldn't say that Dreamland Social Club is a funny book at all! Babette has her moments, but Jane's not a particularly funny main character. But in The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life the focus is more on humor and a more humorous premise. I get bored if I try to do the same thing a second time so my books seem to alternate in tone a bit if you line them all up. 

 I'll admit I am a YA swoon junkie. You managed to bring the swoon big time in Dreamland Social Club and there are zero sexytimes. I LOVE THAT! 
 How hard is it to write those scenes? 

I loved writing those scenes with Jane and Leo exploring Coney together at night. And it felt important to me that Dreamland Social Club strived for a sort of "classic" feel--no cellphones, for example—so I didn't want to bring too much of the sexytimes into it. Because it's an otherwise very sweet story about loss and nostalgia and love. I feel like the best part of teen romance is often the longing stage and the longer that stage goes on, the happier everyone is. Does that say something warped about my idea of relationships? I have no idea. :)

How do you feel about social media? Do you use it to promote your books and talk to your fans? Do you attend any author conferences or do public readings? 

I'm not a super astute online marketer like a lot of authors are. I tweet and Facebook and love accepting invitations to do readings and panels and such—I want more invitations, actually!—but where I am in my career right now doesn't DEMAND that I do a ton of that stuff and I guess that's a bit of a blessing as my daughters are still quite young. It would be challenging to go on a long book tour, for example. 

 Leo/Tattoo Boy (Dreamland Social Club) is in my top all time favourite book boyfriends. 
Who is your favourite(s) book boyfriend? 
In my own books or beyond? Leo is my personally favorite, though he is a close second with James from The Pursuit of Happiness. In other YA books that come to mind I've always loved Wes from Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever and, more recently, pretty much any male characters Gayle Forman writes is the bees knees. 

 What are some of your favourite books and authors in and out of the YA world? 
Jellicoe Road, How I Live Now, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks are some of my all time favorites. Right now, in the world of grown-ups, I'm pretty much in love with Megan Abbott and am sort of plowing through her backlist in total author-crush mode. 

 What are you working on next?

I'm working on my next solo YA novel (following ROOMIES, which I coauthored with Sara Zarr). It's called The Leaving and, again, is a bit of a change for me. A YA memory thriller! It's about a group of kids who disappear when they're 5 year old; eleven years later, five out of the six of them come back with no memory of where they've been and no idea what happened to the sixth. It's making my head hurt a bit right now but not to worry, I'll get it sorted out. :)

Published: May 12, 2011

Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it's not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane's mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid's secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother's past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.


A lot of the books we read come from information that we have gotten from another source. Maybe a blog or a other site has written about the book and so we pick it and sometimes books find us. I had never heard of this book but I noticed it one day in the library because of the cover and the description ( I have a HUGE Coney Island obsession) and I knew I had to read it.

Although, I will be the first to admit I do judge a book by its cover more times than not it was the story that drew me in. If you like books that are a little wacky and fun you will love this book. It's also really touching and sweet in the best ways possible. It's one of my all time favourite reads and one that I found myself going back to year after year.

The book starts our with protagonist Jane (goes by middle name. Her first name is LUNA, which let's all agree is a perfect name) who has recently moved to Coney Island with her father and brother. Jane's mom who passed away grew up in Coney Island and so it is filled with family history. Jane's dad designs roller coasters. I know, who does that!!! That is a real job. Her dad is actual a big deal in the world of roller coaster design and because of that the family has spent the last few years living in Europe and Asia while he works.

Obviously, Coney Island is a huge change from where Jane previously lived. Coney Island is full of the strange. Everywhere you look there are people that would normally be tagged as "circus folks". Jane's new school is full of the different too. This was a favourite part for me. The diversity in the book.

As Jane begins to explore Coney Island and its residents it also stirs up a lot of family history for her and there are some secrets and mysteries that she sets out to solve. I love Jane. I would totally be BFF's with her and explore Coney Island and have slumber parties. Along the way Jane makes new friends (her BFF Babette who is a little person who is goth) and enlists the help of a guy named Leo (SAWOON) who's mother was friends with Jane's mother.  All of the characters in the book are made up of incredibly gifted and hilarious and awesome people. There is a magic to the story and it is emphasized by the characters we get to know and the location of the story. I mean, CONEY ISLAND! Think of all the history of that place and how fun it would be to be a kid there.

However, it's not all rainbows and carnival rides. Altebrando also highlights the struggle and isolation of being a community like Coney Island. Altebrando brings to life a place full of wonder and amazement but she does so while navigating through some pretty heavy issues. So whilst it is dreamy and a fun read it's also contemporary at it's best because it defies stereotypes and there is a depth in the story.

You know me I love me some YA romance reads. Altebrando can bring the flame. She does it when she writes a glance or a touch. There is no SEX in this book but the swooniness (yes, that has to be a word, right?) is soooo hot! Leo is one of my all time book boyfriends.

I absolutely fell in love with the last paragraph in the book. That imagery still haunts me.

I can't wait to read more books from Altebrando. She has easily situated herself among my favourite's.

5 Totally Addicted Skulls