What's Your Happiness Threshold? Author Interview: Ally Condie


Her great website is here

Ally, who are you as a person versus an author?

I am a runner, a reader, an armchair traveler, and I'm passionate about being a mother. However, when my kids are grown, I'd love to run more, read more, and travel more.

What genre(s) do you write in?

I write contemporary young adult fiction--but right now I'm working on a YA sci-fi title. Hopefully it works!

Do you seek to educate or entertain?

I think I fall in the "entertain" category. I don't ever write with an overt moral in mind--I never think, "This book will teach a lesson about____." Usually, the story is all I think about--how to tell it best, how to make my characters real. I want it to be a story worth caring about and investing in.

Where do you write your best stuff, and when?

I write my best on Saturday mornings. The rest of the week, I'm just trying to cram it in around naptime, and usually it doesn't happen. I'm a morning person, so it's kind of hard for me to write at night (but that's almost always when it has to happen during the week). On Saturdays, my husband takes the kids for a few hours and I get a lot done. It's great!

Why do you write?

I always wanted to be a writer when I was young. I still have the first story I "wrote" when I was four--I had my babysitter write it down while I dictated. Later, I became a high school teacher and remembered how much I loved writing when I was teaching creative writing to my students. I don't think I ever had a magical moment--just a lifelong love of the written word and a desire to write some words of my own.

Vanilla or chocolate?

Vanilla. And chocolate. Do I have to choose? :)

PC, Mac, longhand, other?

I like working on my Mac. It's sleek and pretty and it hasn't failed me yet (knock on wood).

What is your current book?

I recently published a book called Freshman for President with Shadow Mountain (the publishers of the Fablehaven series, The Wednesday Letters, and other books) for the national market. This book is about a teenage boy named Milo who runs for president--even though he knows he can't win--for the best of all teenage reasons: to impress a girl and prove to everyone that he's not a nobody. He ends up getting a little more fame than he bargained for, and in the middle of all that, he's still trying to win the girl, keep his friends, and find out what's going on with his older sister--who came home from college and hasn't been the same since. It's a book that is about growing up and staying true to yourself. I think people will like Milo, and I think they will find a lot to root for in him, and I think this is a hopeful book.

One piece of advice/wisdom for the world?

The key to happiness is having a low happiness threshold. If you let the little things make you happy, there's plenty to feel good about!

Dogs or cats?

Neither. I have allergies and they make me itch!

What do you want to be remembered for, or as?

I'd like to be remembered as a good mother and a good friend. Actually, it's hard to think of a better epitaph than Charlotte had in E.B. White's book Charlotte's Web: "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." Add "mother" to that and it would be just about perfect.


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