6 Questions With Shelli Cornelison, Author of Halfway From

1.    You’re a teen again and call your MC (from your forthcoming story in volume 3) on the phone with urgent news: What’s the news and what is his/her reaction?

SC:       Me: “My Mom knows you aren’t living at home anymore. I don’t know how she found out but I lied and told her you were living with your Aunt Kate. If she knew you were living with Luke, she’d never let me hang out with you again, but if you see her, just go with the Aunt Kate story, okay?”

Dawn: “So your mom’s cool with us hanging out as long as I live with my non-functioning alcoholic mother or in my aunt’s halfway house with a crack-head and a PTSD time bomb? Your mom should write a parenting book. Clearly she’s got that shit nailed.”

2.    We are making a short film of your story, who plays the lead character?

SC:       Dawn would want Zoey Deutch to play her in the film. It would piss her off if someone with blue eyes got the part because her eyes are brown. Zoey’s eyes are the right shade of brown, too. That’s the kind of detail that people think doesn’t matter, but it does.

3.    If you were hired to co-author a book with a best selling YA author of YOUR choice, who would you choose?

SC:       David Levithan. I love his writing and I’ve heard him speak a few times. I especially loved hearing him talk about the process of co-writing with Rachel Cohn.  If you ever get the chance to hear him talk about censorship, you should show up for it. I got to hear him speak on the topic in a church sanctuary in Austin, Texas. You had to be there—and I’m so glad I was.

4.  Describe your weirdest writing habit.

SC:       I might be more productive if I had actual habits. I think my habits vary from project to project, or maybe they just have expiration dates. For a while I relied heavily on Twizzlers. I do have to write novel manuscripts in submission format. I can’t crank out a single-spaced draft and then go back in with the double-spacing and the chapter breaks, etc.  I also use chapter titles and sometimes I can’t come up with the right one immediately so I type: Insert Clever Chapter Title Here.  That might read like conceit to everyone else, but I read it as a challenge.  And sometimes I withhold things, like showers, from myself until I hit my daily word count goal. Okay, so maybe my habit is playing mind games with myself. Writing can be lonely. Don’t judge.

5.    Which character in the classic teen movie The Breakfast Club bests describes you in high school?

SC:       I was a less ostentatious Claire. I didn’t have her wealth or her wardrobe but I shared her insecurities and a bit of her snotty attitude from time to time. (But for the record, I would’ve given John Bender that earring, and that kiss, so much sooner.) And maybe I was a little bit of John, too, when it came to mouthing off my unfounded opinions. And a little bit of Brian when it came to caring about schoolwork. In the end, weren’t we all a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal? Sorry, I can’t answer the last question because I have to go watch The Breakfast Club for the eighteen-bazillionth time now.

6.    What’s the best part about being a member of the Sucker family (so far!)?

SC:       I love watching it grow. It’s such a labor of love and everyone involved, from the staff to the writers, is so supportive and talented.

To read Shelli Cornelison story in volume 3, click here.

How I Found Sucker, Shelli Cornelison, author of “Halfway From”

I actually can’t remember how I first found Sucker. It had to have been online, but I don’t remember the specifics. I feel like I’ve always known about Sucker! Being a part of Sucker and watching it grow has been a great experience. The editorial suggestions have been spot on and I now interact regularly with writers I know only because of Sucker. I can’t wait for Hannah to make it to Austin. There’s a margarita here with her name on it.

– Shelli Cornelison, author of “Halfway From”

To purchase volume III, click here.

The Story Behind The Story, “Halfway From” by Shelli Cornelison

I was driving when the spark for this story happened. A helicopter flew over and I looked up to see if it was the medical helicopter, the local news, or a military chopper. For some reason that made me start thinking about how helicopters are used for great things, like medical rescues or dumping water on fires, but how they can also be frightening for some people. Specifically people with PTSD, people for whom the sound of chopper blades might be related to unpleasant memories. I started to wonder about the varying degrees of suffering caused by PTSD, which became thoughts about the multiple forms of mental illness and addiction (hello, welcome to the rabbit hole that is my mind). Suddenly, I had an image of Ray on the porch swing. This was the first time I got a supporting character before the main character. But when I realized I was seeing him through Dawn’s eyes, it was on. She had a story to tell.

-Shelli Cornelison, author of “Halfway From”


To order a copy of volume three, go here.