Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and writes contemporary YA in every spare moment in between. Her debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, will be published by Spencer Hill Contemporary in 2014. You can find her blogging on the Daily Dahlia and YA Misfits, or on Twitter as @MissDahlELama.
What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness for me is feeling like I’m sufficiently balancing all the things I love while making genuine strides toward what I want. When I’m working especially hard at my freelance work or writing, and my husband suffers for it, or I don’t have time to see friends or my family, it’s so disappointing. But those rare times I’m making progress on a manuscript *and* at work *and* being there for the people who matter, it’s the best feeling.
What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
“Heart-Shaped Box,” by Nirvana. My siblings are considerably older than I am, and when I was a kid, it used to drive me crazy how often they took up the TV just to watch music videos. The only ones I’d join them for were “Heart-Shaped Box” and “November Rain.” I love the way the quieter beauty gives way to raging intensity, and I so strongly identify with the desperate need to hold on––to things, to people, to memories. I have such a hard time with change, and as most do, with loss. As I get older, I think it only holds more meaning for me.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I were a great photographer. I used to be really obsessed with taking pictures, mostly at weddings, but I could never justify to myself spending the money to make myself anything special. It’s a shame, because I think of all the wonderful places I’ve been and people I’ve known and wish I’d done them more permanent justice.
On what occasion do you lie?
When I know telling the truth can’t help the person I’m lying to, like if you ask how you look when we’re already on our way to a party. Or if your manuscript is in a state in which you obviously won’t be doing any further revision. What’s the point? It can only hurt you.
What is your present state of mind?
Stressed. I overextended myself for a few weeks with different projects and a whole bunch of things just collided at once. I live to organize, but right now, there’s just too much. I tell myself, “It’s OK, there’s a deadline, and then everything will go back to normal,” but it’s never really the case. I’m living an unsustainable lifestyle right now, but I also don’t have kids, which means I can be pretty selfish. I’m trying to run with that as much as possible to get stuff done.
What is your motto?
It used to be “Always write forward,” but it’s sort of morphed into, “You can’t edit a blank page.” It’s hard to force yourself to put words down sometimes that you know are gonna change, that you know you don’t love, but you can’t make yourself change and love them if they don’t exist. That’s been a really important lesson as a writer, and it got me through a very difficult manuscript recently that I’m now really proud of.
What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Dependability. It’s one I really pride myself on. If I’m busy, I’ll be honest about it, but if I’ve told you I’ll be there, I’ll be there. If I’ve told you I’ll do this for you, I’ll do this for you. It’s something I really need in return, especially as someone who’s so mentally organized. I could never have critique partners, for example, who don’t read when they say they will. It’s a big reason I rarely have random betas.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m an admitted adverb abuser. “Obviously.” “Actually.” “Definitely.” The list is endless. I’m working on it. I swear. Obviously.
Your favorite painting?
Starry Night, by Van Gogh. Not very original, I know, but I hold onto my “favorites” forever. Whatever my favorite [fill in the blank] is now is probably the same as whatever it was when I was a kid. I first saw Starry Night when I was five and nothing has ever taken its place. It’s just something about the textures of it all, the way the luminosity is expressed, the way you really have to hunt for the bits of color in the town. It just works for me.
What is your favorite journey?
The one into mental adulthood. I love observing the things I know now that I didn’t know then, noting the way certain “absolute truths” have changed over time. For me, the apex was realizing that I believe “This too shall pass” 100% of the time. That was definitely something I never felt in high school.
What is your favorite time of day?
I’m definitely a night owl. I like being awake at a time when I’m generally not expected to be anywhere else.
With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
I love books and characters, but I rarely find I want to hang out with them. Especially anyone I could classify as a hero or heroine. I’d rather just have Scarlett O’Hara throw coffee in my face, then tell all my friends about it.
What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
My family has been enormous proponents of my writing ever since I was a kid. I feel this tremendous (and completely self-imposed) pressure to prove them right, and to show that all the time I’ve spent is worth it. I guess that ultimately translates into “I want a book deal!” which is just silly, but there you have it.
Who or what is your first love?
My husband. The obvious answer, yes, but he makes it possible for me to do everything else I love. Even writing isn’t as generous as that.
What’s the last dream you remember?
I was in an insane asylum. I didn’t know how I ended up there, but I knew I had to act just the right amount of crazy to get to see the doctor, but not crazy enough to be kept there. At the end, I realized I hadn’t even tried getting them to call my husband, and that if they did, that would probably fix everything. Then I realized I’d been committed under my maiden name, which is also the name I write under. You don’t need to tell me how Freudian this all is. I want to commit myself just reading it over.
What’s your madeleine?
That summer night scent––grass and fresh air. I went to the same sleep-away camp for 13 years. You can’t take that out of the girl.
Without thinking, in one word: what is life?