Thursday, March 9, 2023

Q&A with Alison Schaffir



Alison Schaffir is the author of the new young adult novel Your Dream for Me. She is based in New York.


Q: What inspired you to write Your Dream for Me, and how did you create your character Scarlett?

A: I’d say the book was inspired by moments throughout my own high school experience. Similar to my main character, I have always had a love for fashion and worked as a retail sales associate when I was in high school.


Additionally, I did set design for the school musical one semester and realized how much I enjoyed it. I thought it’d be interesting to create a character who explores both interests and wrestles with where her true passion lies.


Also, I’d say several of Scarlett’s personality traits are similar to mine when I was in high school. I was a bit of a rule-follower who focused on her studies and had a certain vision for the future. Sometimes, I’d get so caught up in my aspirations that I’d forget to focus on enjoying my teenage years.


In the book, you’ll see Scarlett battle between sticking to her comfort zone and letting her guard down to make the most of her school experience. But thanks to her fun-loving friend Macie, her newfound interest in Nathaniel, and her exploration of the glitzy world of theater, she’ll have lots of opportunities to come out of her shell. 

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: I had a sense of how it would end from the start, although I allowed myself room to adapt. In the romance genre, we often expect that a story will end with a HEA (Happily Ever After).


But in young adult romance, there’s more opportunity to take creative liberties. Since high school is a time of change and transformation, it’s okay to end with a “happy for now” or even a hint of uncertainty.


I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I definitely debated whether to tie the ending up nicely with a bow or allow room for readers to use their imagination. While there’s no perfect answer, I tried to stay in touch with the characters and do what felt right for them. You’ll have to read to find out! 

Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: Originally, I had considered some kind of catchy fashion pun, like “Stitched With You” or “Woven Together.” But as I was writing a conversation in the last chapter, “Your Dream for Me” came to mind.


High school is a time when a lot of expectations are placed upon you, both internally and externally. There are the dreams you have for yourself and then the dreams expected of you by other people: parents, friends, teachers, significant others.


I think part of growing up is learning to block out the noise and stay true to yourself even with the outside pressure, which is what you’ll see the characters explore.


Lastly, a big part of the novel is watching Nathaniel and Scarlett support each other with their respective dreams of theater and fashion. They’re the types of characters who motivate each other to achieve their goals and want what’s best for each other, which are the kind of people you want to have in your life.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?

A: I wrote this book with the intention of entertaining and inspiring. For me, reading has always been an outlet for creativity and escapism. I love to throw myself into a story and lose myself for hours, getting wrapped up in the characters and plot.


Because of this, I wanted to write a heartwarming story that anyone could appreciate–just like my favorite authors have done for me. It makes me smile to think that my words could impact others and allow them to explore new emotions.


Whether my book causes readers to laugh, cry, or swoon, I hope it will transport them back to their high school days to reminisce on the beauty of friendship, first love, and following their passions. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Writing this story made me realize how much I enjoy dabbling in the sweet romance category, whether that be for young adults or an older audience.


Next, I’m working on a long-distance love story about two international pen pals who exchange letters during a pandemic. The past couple of years have been difficult for everyone, so I’m hoping to write a story centered around finding hope and connection during a period of isolation.


I also like weaving fictional aspects with real events, and this story is near and dear to my heart, so I’m excited to explore it further. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Anyone is welcome to send me fan mail via carrier pigeon…just kidding! In all seriousness, this book is especially important to me, because it’s my first novel which I’ve been working on throughout the past seven years.


While I was originally nervous to put it out into the world, I’m so grateful for all of the love and support I have received so far. I can’t wait to continue to share this story, and I hope you love reading it just as much as I loved writing it.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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