I BOOK ORDERING
Flinn grew up in Syosset,
When she was five years old, her
mother suggested that she should be an author.
guess I must have nodded or something because,
that point on, every poem I ever wrote in school
was submitted to Highlights or Cricket magazine.
I was collecting rejection slips at age seven!"
Despite the conviction that she would someday write and publish
a novel, Alex tried several other things first. High school was
spent in Miami
"gifted and talented" performing arts programs. She
studied opera in college (Alex was a coloratura -- the really
loud, high-pitched sopranos) and then went to law school.
It was the latter experience which probably helped with her first
novel. Breathing Underwater deals with the serious and
all-too-common problem of dating violence. Alex based the book
on her experiences interning with the State Attorney's Office
and volunteering with battered women. Alex started writing
an early draft of Breathing Underwater in college. But
it was when she had her first daughter that she started writing
it in earnest. "I was self-taught. I went to the library
and took out books on writing. Then, I read a lot of young-adult
novels by writers I admired, particularly Richard Peck. Reading
his books is like listening to Mozart -- you learn the right
way to write a novel. Then, you fill in your own style."
She eventually met Richard Peck in person at a Key West Literary
Seminar workshop. She was also helped along the way by friend
and fellow YA author, Joyce Sweeney.
writes her first drafts longhand. Initially, she did this because
she didn't own a typewriter. Then, she borrowed a memory typewriter
and finally purchased a computer three years after she began writing.
A year later, her first novel, Breathing Underwater,
was finished and was soon accepted for publication.
Alex writes for young adults because she never quite got over
being one. "In my mind, I am still 13-years-old, running
laps on the athletic field, wearing this really baggy white gymsuit.
I'm continually amazed at the idea that I have a checking account
and a mortgage." So she tries to write books that gymsuit
girl might enjoy. "It's a way of going back to being thirteen
. . . knowing what I know now."
Breathing Underwater has been well-received, and received,
among other honors, a Top-10 Best Book for Young Adults and a
Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Alex's second novel,
Breaking Point, deals with school violence and peer pressure.
Published in 2002, it was a little painful to write, because she
had to revisit her own experiences, being a nerd in school and
struggling to fit in. "The whole time I was writing it, I
felt like I was back at that school I hated. But now, there is
an increased awareness of kids who don't fit in. And, unfortunately,
there have been kids who have allowed these feelings of isolation
-- which are, in the end, temporary -- to cause them to commit
acts with permanent effects."
Her third book, titled Nothing to Lose, is about
a teen who runs off to join a traveling carnival after his mother
is charged with the murder of her abusive husband. Nothing
to Lose is a 2005 Best Book for Young Adults (ALA) and a
2005 Quick Picks for Young Adult Readers (ALA).
a lighthearted and contemporary twist on Beauty and the Beast,
is now a C.B.S. feature film starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens
and Mary-Kate Olsen. A number one New York Times bestseller, it
was also an ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers,
a 2009 IRA Young Adults' Choice, a New York Public Library Book
for the Teen Age, and has been on state award lists in Arizona,
California, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee,
Texas, and Utah.
lives in a Miami suburb,
with her husband, Gene, and her daughters, Katie and Meredith.