Author Interview: Toni De Palma

This week, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Toni De Palma, author of The Devil’s Triangle, which I reviewed a couple weeks ago. It was such a fun experience and I am really excited to share it with you guys now!

Book Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil’s sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he’s thrown into the life he’s always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend who can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn’t watch out.

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While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what’s keeping him and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.

Interview:

When did you know that you wanted to be a novelist?

The first time I decided I wanted to be a writer was when I was eight years old. I was knee deep in the Ramona and Beezus books by Beverly Cleary and I was wowed by how a writer could make me feel about a fictional world. I wanted to do that!

You’ve written books before The Devil’s Triangle. How does your experience writing this novel differ from your ots her novels?

My skills have definitely progressed (at least I hope :), but the process is the same. I don’t start with a firm outline, though I do know how I want my characters to feel and develop by the end of the story. So, just like my first two novels, Under the Banyan Tree and Jeremy Owl, I plugged around in the dark a lot trying to figure it out, until I did.

The idea behind your book is kind of dark, but you seemed to counterbalance it pretty successfully with comedy. Do you think this balance is something that all books, especially young adult books, should have?

While Cooper is sent back to “life” after he dies, I never view this as a dark book. If anything, I feel it is very hopeful and indicative of how human beings want to grow and love and have all the good things in life. As for other YA books, I think there are many neat ways to tackle a story and lots of talented writers who can give their own creative spin to a story. One story does not fit all for sure.

The devil intervening in the lives of two seemingly normal teenagers must have been kind of a big undertaking, especially when you consider that this book is the first in a series. What made you think of this idea?

While the devil is a character in my book, I viewed the mahem that the devil creates as a metaphor for the struggles we all go through in life. Ultimately, this is a story about a boy who has to deal with his own weaknesses and human frailties.

Did you plan on writing a series from the start? If so, how does that affect your writing method?

This book was meant to be a standalone, but my editor suggested there might be more to the story. Once I signed my name to the contract, I was ready to move onto another story and another character. I wrote a YA contemporary after DT and, once that was done, I started thinking about Cooper and Grace again. Cooper is especially appealing to me. Out of all of my characters, he is believe it or not, most like me 🙂

I have to be honest, when I read the synopsis of your book, I was a bit scared! I’m quite skittish around scary stories and movies. In the end, I’m glad I read it, as I enjoyed it so much, but what would you say to other people who might also be skeptical of scary stories?

I don’t like scary stories and the last scary story I read was Silence of the Lambs. I’m also turned off by violence. That said, while there might be some dramatic or tense scenes, I don’t think of this book as particularly scary.

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

As I write about a character, they sort of become like one of my kids and I attach a hope for them. What I hoped for Cooper is that he could find his worth and believe in himself. And, of course, I wanted him to find love.

What books have influenced you the most? Can we see that influence anywhere in The Devil’s Triangle?

I love books and writers who create characters that are as multifaceted and intricate as a human being is. I’ve loved many books and many characters. Two of my favorite books are The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Sold by Patricia McCormick.

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why? 

Tough, tough question. So many of my favorite characters are struggling so I don’t know if I’d choose them as much as I would choose my own, Lucy, the Devil’s sister in The Devil’s Triangle. She is a saucy, naughty girl, who gets to do whatever she darn pleases. I’d like to be her for a day!

Thanks again to Toni De Palma and Christine Attardo for making this interview happen! Now, go and read this book, it’s awesome!

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