Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton - Review & Interview

Monday, May 10, 2010

Before I started reading Della Says: OMG! I had Expectations. And I capitalise Expectations because Expectations are a big part of my book reading experience. I see the cover, I read the blurb, I see the title, I read other reviews, maybe I know the author’s online presence – and from these things I start to expect things of the novel.

So first, quickly, my expectations: I was expecting a novel with a big focus on Facebook, texting and IM. I was expecting it to be written for a younger teenage audience. I was expecting it to be a quick, easy and fun read. I wasn’t expecting it to have much depth, but I love fun books, so that’s okay.

Needless to say, Della Says: OMG! was totally not what I was expecting. In a great way.

The focus of this novel was not as much on Della’s missing diary (and there was a small amount of focus on the internet side of things), I felt, as it was on Della growing as a person. Della was a brilliant character – she wasn’t the strongest of personalities, but she wasn’t a pushover either, and she was someone with whom I could really relate. I thought Dan, too, was fantastic, and the relationship between those two was really well-written. And Maddy! Maddy was great. I would have loved to have heard more of her story.

It talks about things like teen sex very honestly (always tactfully, though) and Della is seventeen, so I’d probably recommend this to slightly older teens. I thought Della’s story was sweet, but also a lot more multi-layered than I expected. This was a book I really enjoyed reading – a little snapshot into Della’s life, laugh-out-loud funny and very insightful.

Interview with Keris Stainton

Steph: Was there a specific inspiration behind Della Says: OMG? Can you tell me a bit about the process of writing it?
Keris: Well the original idea was based on something that happened to me. My sister had a party when our parents were away and the next morning, I couldn't find my diary. I eventually did find it, but not before I'd imagined the horrors of someone else having it. I started to think about what it would be like today, with social networking, etc., and then I started thinking about how insecure I was and then Della appeared!

I started writing it from three viewpoints: Della, Jamie and Maddy, but my editor liked Della and wanted me to write the whole thing from her POV. I'd quite like to write Maddy's and Jamie's stories in the future though.

Steph: I think Della is an ace character - is there much of you in her, or any of your other characters?
Keris: Thank you! There's definitely a bit of me in her - her insecurity and self-consciousness. That's what I wanted to explore really because I know, or at least I hope, that that's relateable.

Steph: I loved how honest your novel was about issues that affect teens. Did you make a conscious decision to write it like that? Did you ever worry about people not liking the content?
Keris: Thank you. I did worry a bit - I still do (no one in my family has read it yet - argh!) - but I didn't see any point in writing it if I didn't do it honestly. There are some tricky issues, but I don't think there's anything sensationalised. And I don't think there's anything that teenagers aren't already aware of.

Steph: Can you tell me a little bit about your road to publication, and how you reacted when you found out your book was being published?
Keris: Well the road was very smooth, thankfully. I'd written a book called Forget Me Not and I found a wonderful agent fairly quickly. She started sending it out and then said that Orchard wanted to meet me. I went down to London (I live about 250 miles away) expecting an interview, but they basically told me how much they loved my writing. I rang my husband afterwards and just squealed down the phone. And I giggled so much on the train that another passenger asked me what was up!

Steph: Imagining you could travel back in time and meet your teenaged self without tearing the universe apart, what advice would you give her about writing and life?
Keris: Ooh, great question. First of all I would tell her that she's not fat. And to stop worrying so much about getting a boyfriend. I might give her a heads-up on the George Michael thing too. I'd tell her not to worry about other people's opinions so much and that she's capable of much more than she thinks she is.
Steph: What are you working on at the moment? (And will Della Says: OMG have a sequel?)
Keris: I've another book coming out next year. It's about an American boy who's in love with his best friend's girlfriend and a girl from Manchester who gets her heart broken and goes to New York (where her mum lives) for the summer. Not sure about a Della sequel yet, but as I said, it's a possibility!

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