13th May2014

Exclusive Interview: ‘Digit’ author Annabel Monaghan

by Catherina Gioino

Every kid goes through emotional and physical changes as a teenager, so when one is kidnapped by terrorists, it’s just a normal everyday occurrence. Such is the case for Digit, the main character in the book series A Girl Named Digit and Double Digit, all by author Annabel Monaghan.

Starting out as a non-fiction author with her book Click, a motivational guide for young people everywhere, Monaghan grew to write her bestselling series about Digit, a girl whose intellect leads to her dangerous position helping the FBI target cyber terrorists. With Digit’s success came Monaghan’s, as not only is there another book in the works continuing Digit’s story, but Disney Channel also bought the rights to A Girl Named Digit that will eventually be made into a television movie within the next year or so.

Monaghan, a mother of three boys, detailed her warm welcome of the Disney news as well as what motivates her to write and the various challenges she had in becoming the successful writer she is today. Besides being an enthusiastic bumper sticker collector, Monaghan writes several columns for her local paper as well as The Huffington Post depicting the hilarity that ensues with being a mother. You can read the interview below and be sure to check her website for any upcoming news and read her latest posts.

Annabel-Monaghan

Catherina Gioino: First, would you like to tell me who you are and about what you do?

Annabel Monaghan: I am Annabel Monaghan and I write fiction for young adults. I also write a column for adults- it’s a humorous column that got picked up by my local paper and nationally in The Week and The Huffington Post. So I write a lot of different things.

CG: What made you want to start writing?

AM: I started writing when I was a little kid; mainly just because I liked it. I liked making up stories and it felt creative and like an escape. I wrote all the time when I was in high school and I wrote a lot in college. And I got totally sidetracked when I graduated college so I never wrote anything –not an article, not a book- until I was 37 years old.

CG: Tell me about the differences between the column for moms and young adult books.

AM: Well the column I write for moms is like my internal dialogue that’s just crazy stuff that happens in my house that I think is funny. So I write that, almost like a “Dear Diary.” I also would like to write a book for adults, but I just don’t have it figured out yet. Writing for young adults is great- this is a very intense time where everything’s new and there are so many highs and lows all the time. It’s like when you’re an adult, it’s like, “Did you file your tax return or not?” The teenage years are an exciting time of life and I like going back to that time in my books.

CG: How’s it like getting your book picked up by Disney?

AM: It’s really exciting that the first book, A Girl Named Digit has been picked up by Disney for a Disney Channel movie, so it won’t be like Finding Nemo but it’ll be like High School Musical hopefully. It’s going at a slow rate since they’re working on the script right now so it would be great if that came out sometime this year.

CG: Are you working on the film’s script?

AM: No, I’m really not. I’m trying to stay far away from things. I think when you create something that gets adapted into a movie, you should either be 100% involved, or not be involved at all. It’s kind of good for me to just let it go and let the filmmakers develop it.

CG: Tell me about Click and A Girl Named Digit.

AM: Click was my first book that was nonfiction, and I wrote that with my friend Elisabeth Wolfe. That is a book about positive thinking for teen girls, and it’s not really specific to girls, it’s just that when I was talking to my publisher about the book’s premise, they said that ‘boys don’t buy books like this.’ So it’s more targeted to girls, but it’s about the idea that if you focus on all the obstacles in front of you and about how stuck you feel, you will remain stuck. And if you focus on where you want to go in a more positive way and the actions you take to get there, it’s like the energy is behind you to move you out of where you are. And people are very stuck a lot- people my age are very stuck and Elisabeth and I thought it would be a very good message to give to young people when it’s a time where it’s very easy to get down on yourself. So that was 2007, and then I wrote about A Girl Named Digit in 2012.

CG: What were the challenges of trying to get your first book published?

AM: The hardest part is getting an agent. It’s still hard after that but I met my agent because my niece who was fifteen years old was interning at Cornerstone Literary and she showed my proposal to an agent and the agent picked us up. So once an agent picks you up, they go to all the publishers and finally and hopefully the book gets picked up. And years later when I wanted to write my novel, I went to my same agent and said, ‘Guess what? I’m writing a novel.’ And I could feel the rolling of her eyes but I sent her a couple of chapters and she liked it and so that got picked up as well.

CG: What advice would you give both fiction and nonfiction writers?

AM: It’s just the most annoying advice and I hate to give because I’ve heard it before and when you want advice, you want something quick, something that makes you go, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.’ Writing is just like running. If you want to write, you have to write. You can’t just think about writing, you can’t just take classes about writing, talk about writing- you have to just get out there and do it. And I think the trick is getting over the fear that you’re going to write something terrible because who cares? You don’t have to publish it. I sometimes, when I start writing, look at that blank screen and flashing cursor and panic, but what I’m really afraid of is that I won’t be able to write something good. But if you just start writing and you write something terrible, eventually you’ll write something good because you just have to keep at it and keep working on it. And find another way to support yourself too because you’re not going to write a book and get it published, so you need a backup plan.

CG: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re working on?

AM: I am sort of working on the third book to the Digit series, so it was A Girl Named Digit and Double Digit and the third title; I’m not really sure what it is. I’m not really far into it. I have it all worked out in my head about how it’s going to go and what the problem is and the plot and how it’s going to end up working out, but I’m not that very far into it. I need to get to work, hoping this summer is the time that’s going to get to happen.

CG: Do you have any advice for young adults?

AM: Don’t move out of your house- it’s too expensive. Ha, my advice it to take a little bit of time when you are a teenager and take a look at what you’re really passionate about. And listen to all the advice that you’re getting from your parents and teachers and friends and see if there’s a link between them but listen to your own voice first. If you have some passion or gift that you want to pursue, just stick with it. If you have an amazing ability with music, you can’t just shrug and never pick up a violin again. If you have a gift (and everyone does), then use it.

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