Get to Know Colleen Clayton
Welcome to Get to Know [Author], an interview series in which I ask questions that help us get to know the person behind the book. This week I’m featuring Colleen Clayton, the author of What Happens Next! To learn more about the book, check out my review! If you’re looking for a quick rundown, What Happens Next is about a teenager who is lured away from a ski trip by a mysterious stranger. She can’t remember exactly what the man did to her, but she knows it’s bad.
Planner or pantser? Pantser
Ideal vacation spot? Irish cottage
Favorite place to write? Couch
Current jam? The Idler Wheel by Fiona Apple
Current read? Birds and Birthdays by Christopher Barzak (x)
Three fun facts about you?
1. I carried the Olympic Torch in the 1996 Atlanta games torch relay when it made its way through Ohio. I was 9 months pregnant!
2. I’m a notorious scatterbrain. Far and wide people know me for being an unorganized wreck of a person.
3. My dog’s name is LeeLoo Dallas Multipass from the movie The Fifth Element and my cat’s name is Mr. Sexy Boyfriend.
Your author bio says that you used to be a social worker. Did your experience in that career help inspire WHAT HAPPENS NEXT in any way?
Working with teens and kids for years, I saw a lot of terrible things as well as many wonderful, hopeful things. Witnessing the challenges that some kids face and trying to help them through those challenges in order to reach a better place is a life-altering endeavor. You’re never, ever the same. I like to think that my time spent as a social worker informed me as a human being and helped me to write for and about teens in a believable and empathetic way.
Your protagonist, Sid, occupies a few different high school ‘groups’ during WHAT HAPPENS NEXT (cheerleader, smarty-pants, loner). Which group was your high school self in?
I was kind of a mess. I was all over the map, lost for the most part, and just hoping to find someone to eat lunch with everyday. I was bullied a lot from about 3rd through 10th grade due to my then extremely thick glasses, thrift store clothing, and complete lack of anything resembling a feminine shape. (I looked ten years old until I was about eighteen…) I had a few good friends in school but was, for whatever reason, unpopular with most kids, even disdained by some. Yet, like my main character, I was a cheerleader? It makes no sense when I think about it now. I think I might have fit in well with the stoner set had my parents been a lot less strict. I was in choir and I enjoyed that but I was a terrible student academically. Just freaking terrible. C’s and D’s, the occasional F. (Except for English, of course. Got all A’s and B’s in that!) I hung out quite a bit with kids from my church youth group or from my various jobs at McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins, and a department store now called Macy’s. Several of my friends were kids that didn’t go to my school. I guess you could have called me a Floater or Dabbler. Like my main character, Sid! However, I was not as “together” as Sid. I bounced around aimlessly, very unsure of myself, and just continuously looking for a soft place to land.
Comment question for readers: What social group did you fall into in high school?