Where did you grow up?
I grew up all over the San Francisco Bay area, mainly in Pittsburg, California.
When did you become interested in acting?
I became interested in acting when I was in college. I saw a post for hip-hop dance auditions for a dance crew, and from there I started modeling. After modeling, I decided I wanted to study acting.
How did you land the role as Carlos in the Rules of Attraction book trailer?
I had to audition. Out of the three brothers, I was the only one who had to audition! I thought I completely blew the audition, but it turned out I got the part!
What’s your relationship like with Alexander F. Rodriguez and Gabriel Chavarria?
After Alex and I met, we became like brothers. I keep in touch with Gabriel, and we see each other here and there.
Where are you currently filming?
I am currently filming a project in Miami, but I’m not allowed to say what it is! You will know soon!
Tell me about your roots.
My name is Italian. I was named after and an Italian actor that was in a soap opera. (Go figure!) My aunt suggested the name to my parents. My parents are from Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. Most of my family still resides there.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue to grow as a human being and be better than I was yesterday.
What advice would you give young people who want to be actors?
I would say that if you love acting, do it! But don’t let it take control of your personal life. Remember to live your life and have fun, as well.
Simone currently has eight teen books in bookstores:
Rules of Attraction
Return to Paradise
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
How to Ruin my Teenage Life
How to Ruin Your Boyfriend’s Reputation
Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.
She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.
Simone does inspirational talks at schools, libraries, and conferences. Check out the Press & Reviews page for testimonials from teens, teachers and Librarians who have had her speak at their school or library. If you are interested in booking Simone for a speaking engagement, please contact her assistant.
I’m so sorry, but if I answered all the report questions I get emailed, I would never have time to write another book! The good news is, all of your questions can probably be answered by my website. I’ve tried to answer as many questions as I can for you here. Good luck with your report and thanks for giving me time to write my next book!
I want you to come speak to my school, library, or conference! How much does it cost?
It varies, depending on how far I have to travel. Have a teacher, Librarian, or conference coordinator email my assistant at email@example.com and we can try to schedule it!
Are any of your books going to be made into movies?
The Perfect Chemistry books are currently with a Hollywood agent who is representing it for sale to film companies/producers. I will post any updates on my website or facebook.
But WHY haven’t your books been made into movies yet?
Wow! You’re really persistent. I promise, I would LOVE for my books to be made into movies! It’s definitely one of my top goals. Did I tell you I wrote a TV pilot for Perfect Chemistry? Maybe we could get a TV series!
If any of your books get made into movies, can I be cast in the movie or get information on how to audition?
If the books get optioned and production actually begins on any movies, my fans will be the first to know on my website and on Facebook! Unfortunately, an author has no say in the casting of the movie because it’s all up to the casting director to choose the actors. My agent has told me that 99% of the time, the author is totally left out of those decisions.
How do you pronounce your last name?
Elk – like the animal
Uh – like “uhhhh. . . I don’t know what to say right now”
Less – it’s not Elk-uh-more, it’s Elk-uh-LESS
What Awards have you won?
I’m very proud of and flattered by the awards I have won. I was especially excited to win the Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best Young Adult Romance for Perfect Chemistry and to be named Author of the Year by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. I’m also thrilled that all three books in the Perfect Chemistry series have been YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers. You can find my other awards on each book’s individual page.
What did you like to read when you were a teen?
To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy reading as a teen. I did read Judy Blume and I liked riddle and joke books, but that was about it. It wasn’t until I became an adult and started taking my own kids to the library that I learned to LOVE reading!
Who are your favorite authors?
Too many to name! Off the top of my head, I like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, David Levithan, John Green, and Meg Cabot.
Did you study writing in school?
No. I didn’t get very good grades in English classes either.
Why did you decide to start writing?
Unlike most authors I know, I didn’t like reading as a teen and I hated English class. I fell in love with reading as an adult – specifically romance novels. I was so in love with them, I started writing them. Once I started writing for myself and not for a teacher or a grade, I realized that I loved writing and never wanted to stop. Writing is the best profession and now I can’t imagine doing anything else!
How does it feel to be a New York Times bestselling author?
Very surreal, fantastic, and WONDERFUL!! It has been a long journey to get here, but it’s my fans I have to thank for this honor. I have the best of the best fans! Thanks for enjoying my books so much that I have achieved every author’s dream of making the New York Times Bestseller list!
Perfect Chemistry series:
Leaving Paradise series:
How to Ruin series:
I’m working on the first book in a new series about high school football players called Fullriders. Everyone thinks these guys have perfect lives, but that’s far from the truth. Their lives are full of drama and (you guessed it) romance! Don’t worry; you don’t have to know anything about football to love this series! You can find more information about it in this interview.
When are your books coming out and where can I buy them?
All of my books, except for the first in the Fullriders series, are available through your local bookstore, chain bookstore (Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books a Million, Walden Books, Waterstones, etc) and select Wal-Mart and Target stores – you can also get them at the independent bookstores near your house to help support family owned businesses. Go to the Buy It page for direct links to purchase my books online.
I don’t live in the USA. How can I buy your books?
My books have been published in many different countries. Go to the Buy It page to see if the book you want has been published in your country and how you can purchase it!
How can I get your autograph?
First of all, you can check the Events page and see if I’m coming to a town near you to do a book signing! If you can’t come see me in person, I can mail a bookplate, which is a sticker that I will autograph for you to stick to the inside of your book. Here’s how to get one:
Instructions for sending a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE)
Take a regular business sized envelope (the long ones) and write your name and address in both the return address spot (upper left) and address spot (middle). Put a stamp on it. Now, put that envelope inside another business size envelope and mail it to me. Don’t forget to include a note that tells me the NAME of the person you want me to autograph the bookplate to (you, your sister, your friend). Mail it to:
318 Half Day Road #331
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
I’m a reviewer. Can you send me an advanced copy so I can review one of your books?
Unfortunately I have nothing to do with sending copies out to reviewers. The publicity department at my publisher takes care of sending out review copies so feel free to contact Llewellyn Flux or Walker Books for Young Readers.
Can you send me a free book?
I’m sure you can check it out from your local library. If they don’t have it in their collection, put in a request for them to carry it. Librarians are there to help you!
I have a great book idea. Can I send it to you and have you write it?
No. I’m sorry. I only write books with MY ideas. But if it’s a great idea, I think you should write it! I have some great tips for writers below.
A town near where I grew up mirrors Fairfield: students who live in mansions on Lake Michigan mixed with students from “the other side of the tracks.” I have always wondered what would happen if two kids from those opposite worlds fell in love, and from that Alex & Brittany’s story came to life in my head.
Alex Fuentes is a combination of guys I know, guys I wanted to know, guys I dated, and guys I wanted to date. He was initially inspired by this guy who used to work at my bagel store. He doesn’t have Alex’s OMG-to-die-for “looks,” but he definitely has his swagger and charisma.
Who are the actors who play Alex, Carlos, and Luis in the Rules of Attraction and Chain Reaction book trailers?
Alex is played by Alexander F. Rodriguez, an internationally known Latino model and actor. (He plays the groom in Katy Perry’s Hot ‘N Cold video.) Carlos is played by Giancarlo Vidrio, a Mexican-American actor who has acted in plays and television series. Luis is played by Gabriel Chavarria, known for playing the character Tito in the movie Freedom Writers. You can friend them through their Facebook pages.
Who are the actors in your rap video for Perfect Chemistry?
The full cast is listed on the Videos page.
It came right out of the headlines from my town. A girl stabbed a boy at the junior high by my house. He was injured, but survived. The girl went to juvenile jail and I wondered what would happen when she was released. Would she be allowed back in school? If so, how would her victim react when he saw her? How would her peers react to seeing her again? While Leaving paradise has nothing to do with the real story, the idea snowballed into the idea for Leaving Paradise – a boy coming back after being released from juvie and facing his victim once again.
Did you really go to jail for research for Leaving Paradise?
Yes, I did visit a juvenile detention center for research. The warden was really nice and spent hours with me touring the facility and he actually locked me in a cell so I could feel what it was like.
Will there be a third book in the Leaving Paradise series?
I never thought I’d actually write about Israel even though I’d been there many times throughout my life. I went on a little retreat with some writer friends who suggested I write about “what I know.” I sat down and thought about my times as a teenager visiting Israel. I wondered how an American teenager needing an attitude adjustment would survive on my cousin’s moshav (farm community). I truly enjoyed writing about Amy and watching her change throughout the book. I also liked introducing Israel to readers through my eyes as an American, because everywhere Amy travels in the book, I’ve been.
Will there be a fourth book in the How To Ruin series?
I don’t think I’ll be writing another How to Ruin book, although I loved writing Amy and Avi’s adventures together. They are such fun characters to write! Right now I want to work on other projects. Ultimately, however, it’s up to my publisher to decide whether or not they want a fourth book in the How to Ruin series. I never say never, but right now there are no plans for a fourth book.
My first advice is to finish a book. Most people who start a book never finish it. Sometimes you might feel like you have writer’s block, but I’ve learned (because when you’re under contract you CAN’T have writer’s block) to keep writing even if it goes slow. Keep going, let yourself write stupid stuff because you can always go back and revise it. I write how I talk – my style is very conversational. To be successful, you need to write realistic dialogue. (The more you read, the better your own writing will be as well!)
Do you write an outline?
I don’t write an outline. I like to be surprised by where my characters and the story takes me.
How long does it take you to finish one of your books?
It depends. If I’m under deadline, it’s three to four months. I worked on Perfect Chemistry for almost five years on and off while I was in between other projects.
How long did it take you to get your first book published after finishing the manuscript?
My first published book was actually the third book I wrote. I started writing in 2000 and sold my first book in 2005. It took five years for me to get an agent, but she sold my book within two months. I think the hardest part was waiting for “the call” from my agent telling me there was an offer to buy the book. I’m very impatient and I hate waiting.
Do you put a lot of your personal experiences into your books?
I use a lot of “who I am” and the experiences I’ve had in my books, but my books are in no way autobiographical. You’d be surprised how many funny things have happened to me in my life. And yes, I have been spit on by an Alpaca in Israel. I make up all my characters, although sometimes they’re caricatures of people I know.
How many pages is a young adult novel?
Teen novels are usually (not a rule, though) between 45,000 and 90,000 words so check your word count. I use one inch margins, double spaced, and write in either Times New Roman 12 point or Courier New 12 point. In the header of the page I insert the title, my last name, and the page number.
How can I get published?
Once you finish a book, join a writer’s critique group (I did, and wouldn’t be published if it weren’t for the group I joined). After you revise it and give it to a trusted person to critique and you feel like your story is publishable, you might want to search online for a reputable agent (or look at the acknowledgements page inside one of your favorite books because authors usually thank their agents or go to www.publishersmarketplace.com and research agents – it has a monthly cost associated to it, but you can sign up for some information for free). Go online for submission guidelines for each agent you want to submit to (you shouldn’t have to pay an agent unless they sell your book, and then they take a percentage of what you made), and good luck! And please, try not to get discouraged. Most authors have gotten rejected tons of times before they find an agent and sell their first book.
Can I email you a story I’m working on so you can give me pointers?
I used to be able to have writers email me their stories for me to critique, but now I’m unfortunately too busy to read other people’s work because I’m under very tight deadlines. I strongly suggest joining a writer’s critique group (research for ones in your area) or get a bunch of writer friends together and start your own writer’s group!
If writing is your dream, then go for it and don’t give up! That’s what I did. Good luck!