Twitterview: Rainbow Rowell (author of Eleanor & Park)

Welcome our latest Twitterview victim, Rainbow Rowell, author of the recently-released YA novel Eleanor and Park. While it’s not Rowell’s first novel, this is her first YA title, and we reviewed it right here.

Rainbow stopped by to talk about inspirations and influences, why and how Omaha, Nebraska is her setting of choice, and who she sees breaking ground right now. And if you want your own copy of Eleanor and Park, there is a giveaway at the end of the interview.

Without further ado, Rainbow:

Pitch Eleanor & Park in 140 characters

Two 16-year-olds fall in love–and understand what that means. That 1st love is usually a lie or a temporary condition. But they try anyway.


This is what it feels like to fall in love when you’re 16, when all you can do is hold each other’s hands as long as the world lets you.


First love! True love! Star-crossed 16-year-olds read comic books and trade mixed tapes, and try not to let go of each other’s hands.

What inspired Eleanor & Park?

I’ve always wanted to write a first-love story. One that didn’t fast-forward through all the small stuff. I wanted to see if I COULD.

Eleanor & Park is set in the 1980s. Talk a bit about that.

It’s set in 86 because that’s a year I can still FEEL. Also because it was a time when underground culture was shifting/changing/subverting.

And what was the most enjoyable flashback moment in writing the story set in this era?

Probably remembering the first time I heard “alternative” music. The Smiths, The Cure. So exciting/scary. Like, “What ELSE is out there?”

Your first book, Attachments, was an adult novel, but you went YA with Eleanor & Park. Why the switch up?

I didn’t really plan it; was just the story I wanted to tell next. I’ve always read both adult & YA, so it didn’t feel like switching gears.

Both of your books have been set in Omaha, Nebraska. Any particular reason for that setting? (also: shout out to Village Inn for us midwesterns!)

I’m from Omaha. Born & mostly raised. I like the idea of setting all my books here, the way every John Waters movie is set in Baltimore.

Eleanor & Park is a romance, though it’s a bit atypical. How would you describe it?

Well…no one in this book is an ethereal beauty :) It’s an intense love story that’s also intensely clumsy sometimes, and painful.

Tell us a little bit about who Eleanor is?

Eleanor is smart & funny & proud & so busy keeping her head above water, she never sees those good things. Doesn’t believe in good things.

Who is Park?

Park wants to be invisible. He thinks it’s safer & he doesn’t know what to make of himself, anyway. But he’s good & true & believes in love.

If you had to give your book a “____ meets _____” pitch, what two (or three! or four!) books/films/shows would Eleanor & Park be a meeting of?

“Juno”! “Romeo and Juliet”! That episode of “Dawson’s Creek” where Pacey gives Joey a wall.

“Pretty in Pink ÷ Cynthia Voigt’s “Homecoming.”

Eleanor & Park pubbed in the UK before the US. Were there major differences in the pub/ editorial experience on either side of the world?

Hard to say because I also changed U.S. publishers. E&P was edited by my UK editor. My U.S. editor, fortunately, was happy with that edit.

Can we talk about your non-traditional, non-stock image book cover?

IT’S WONDERFUL & I AM SO LUCKY. The cover was really important to me & St. Martin’s Press worked hard to make sure the cover fit the story.

Outside of writing, what do you do with your free time?

I work with a design agency on marketing stuff. Strategy+writing. And I have 2 kids. And I read like someone who’s afraid she’ll forget how.

Who or what do you write for?

For myself. (Is that awful?) I write because I get toxic with words if I don’t. I write the characters/stories/love stories I want to read.

What was your most influential read as a teenager?

Everything by John Irving, starting with World According to Garp. Made me see how language can perfectly marry plot. How the TELLING matters.

Who are your top three writing influences?

Beverly Cleary, Tom Robbins, Lewis Carroll. (Voice, language, music.)

Who do you believe is breaking ground in YA right now?

Wow, I don’t feel at ALL qualified to answer that. (I don’t know that I’m looking for groundbreaking, as a reader. Just GREAT, you know?)

What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Finish your book. You can worry about almost everything else later. FINISH YOUR BOOK. (From an Omaha author who writes thrillers.)

What’s your best writing advice to give?

Nothing new here: Write A LOT. Read outside your genre. Don’t worry about what will sell; nobody really knows that anyway.

What is your writing routine?

Thursday through Sunday at the coffee shop, in 4-to-6 hour blocks. I can’t take more than a few days off, or I get lost in the story.

What gets you jazzed to write?

Writing. The deeper I get into a novel, the more I want to get back to it. I start to miss the characters. Miss their space in my head.

Do you have a writing soundtrack? Care to share a bit?

I build playlists while I write. It’s SERIOUS BUSINESS. All my playlists are on Spotify
rainbowrowell. And I blog about them on my site.

What’s next for you?

My 2nd YA book, FANGIRL, comes out in September. Coming-of-age tale of family, fanfiction & true love. And I’m writing another adult book.

Favorite ice cream?

Mint chip.

Your deepest, darkest secret?

It used to be my fanfiction addiction, but now I’ve written a whole book about that. SECRET’S OUT.

Want to win a copy of Eleanor and Park? I’ve got one to give away. I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month. 

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