Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Author Interview: Simone Elkeles : Chain Reaction

|Excuse this late posting, I scheduled this, but apparently Blogger has decided to override my posts again.  Also, don't mind if there are funky spaces or lack of paragraph separation.  Blogger has decided to make a mess of my post|


I totally squealed when the opportunity to ask Simone Elkeles a few questions about her newest release, Chain Reaction - Perfect Chemisty #3.  So what you are looking at is a series of questions pertaining to the making of the Chain Reaction book trailer as well as reading some good stuff on the actors and actresses who played the characters in the Perfect Chemisty books!   REALLY, there is some pretty good stuff here, worth the read!
Thank You Simone for stopping by!


When looking for the actors for the Chain Reaction book trailer was it more important that they looked exactly like you envisioned them while writing them or were there other factors involved like attitude and chemistry

When I looked for the actors to play the Fuentes brothers in my book trailer (you can watch the trailers on YouTube or my website) I really wanted to find boys who looked and acted like my characters.  Most important was looks and swagger, which all the boys have in abundance.  What I didn’t know was that they’re all such sweet boys – seriously I’ve become friends with all of them on a personal level. Alexander F. Rodriguez is the most charismatic person I’ve ever been around and he’s a perfect Alex.  Seriously, the rest of us on set joked that we should start a new religion where we worship Alexander F. Rodriguez and get a bunch of followers.  The guy is unreal – he knows how to do everything, from water skiing to snowboarding to playing guitar.  When Giancarlo Vidrio auditioned to play Carlos, I got chills because the second I watched his audition I knew he was Carlos Fuentes come to life- I told the director to stop the audition process for his role because I’d found my Carlos.  I didn’t even have to audition Gabriel Chavarria for the role of Luis.  I’d seen him in Freedom Writers, found him on Facebook and sent him a private message asking him if he’d be willing to be Luis.  I would have been at a complete loss if he’d said no.  He’s got that sweet, innocent/adorable face, mixed with the Fuentes good looks and amazing abs.  And boy does he have swagger to the n’th degree.  I was so excited when he agreed to come to Chicago and be Luis. When the boys are together, on and off the set, they act like brothers.  There’s a connection between the boys in real life, which is so cool.  I’d seen Krislian Rodriguez on Model Mayhem and was wow’ed to say the least.  She’s drop-dead gorgeous, and just how I imagined Nikki Cruz.  Krislian and Gabriel met before the shoot and hit it off – their chemistry on set was amazing. Andres Orrego, the boy who played Marco, was a student from one of the schools I spoke at.  He’d asked if he could be in my next video and I looked at him and said, “maybe.”  He found me on Facebook and I said he could be Marco in the book trailer because he looked the part and really wanted the experience of being on set, but I warned him that he’d be playing a jerk.  His response:  “That’s a perfect role for me – I work at being a jerk every day!”  Nice, huh. I hope he was joking.

Once finding the actors, I am sure of us have already seen your praise for, did you ever ask yourself if you were envisioning them the whole time? 

Seriously, I think the actors really embodied the Fuentes brothers so well it’s kind of surreal.  They were made for the roles, in my opinion.

When it came time to put the book trailer together how much of a role did you have in the overall finished product?  Did it take a few times to get it how envisioned it or was your creative team pretty much spot on?

The Director of Photography (DP) was Dean Bushala, who has been in the business a long time and even worked on Ice Road Truckers!  I have to say that Dean was and is a genius.  The camerawork he did was so creative – I was amazed at what he did in such a short time period.  Dean put the trailer together, and I came to his studio and suggested how it could be tweaked to make it better.  He said that before me he’d never worked with a client before whose suggestions actually made the project better.  I was very happy with the end product, except I wish I would have shown Krislian in her bikini and had a hot makeout scene – I totally forgot about those scenes.

Did you ever find that the real lives of the actors shared similarities with your characters beyond their looks?  Care to introduce us to them a little?
After finishing Chain Reaction, Gabriel Chavarria texted me immediately and thought it was weird at how much he identified with Luis. Gabe is such a sweet, genuine boy, and he’s been through a lot in his short life.  He’s got a huge family and is very dedicated to them – and he visits his mom almost every day and as a mom myself that melts my heart.  When I look into his eyes I swear it’s so intense I have to look away – you can see his soul through those eyes.

In contrast, Giancarlo Vidrio is a perfect Carlos.  He’s got a huge heart, but there’s a bad boy edge to him that is super attractive.  He’s also a jokester, and is ready to have fun and party.  I can (and have) talked to and texted with Giancarlo for hours – he’s a guy you just want to hang out with and know you’ll never get bored.  What you might not know is that he’s an amazing dancer.  I wish there was a dance scene in the trailer to show off his mad skills.
Then there’s Alexander F. Rodriguez…did you read above that I’m starting a new religion with Alexander as my leader?  In Perfect Chemistry, when Alex Fuentes walks into the room, Brittany recalls that every eye is on him – his presence demands attention. Alexander is the same – when he’s in the room you can’t help but be drawn to him.  I can’t imagine a girl who wouldn’t want to be called his girlfriend or a boy who wouldn’t want to be his friend.  He’s also super dedicated to his blond haired/blueeyed girlfriend Jesse Golden – who definitely reminds me of Brittany!  The only difference is that Alexander is a carefree surfer dude from California who smiles a lot and loves to have fun – Alex Fuentes is definitely more guarded and not as open. 

Do you have any moments or memories you'd like to share with us from the set?  Any cast lunches, inside jokes, or funny moments?

Some funny moments that will be shown in theouttakes/bloopers YouTube video I’ll be posting –

1)Every time Gabriel and Krislian had to kiss in the “meadow” scene – which was just a courtyard at the school with overgrown weeds – the DP (director of photography) had to adjust the camera right when they were leaning in for the kiss.  Gabriel and Krislian had to kiss over and over and over again – not that they minded, but I’m sure it wasn’t as much fun for them being watched by the entire crew.

2)Every time the guys asked me what they should wear in a scene, I’m like, “Take your shirt off!”  The first time Alexander took off his shirt I said, “Can I feel your abs?” – of course he threw me a bone and said yes.  He’s so nice that way, ha ha.

3) One time when Giancarlo walked in with the gun and challenged “Chuy” in the standoff scene, their guns accidentally bumped each other and clinked –it was hard for the cast to keep a straight face.

4) On set, they played Panty Discus (a game Carlos told Kiara about in Rules of Attraction).  I started calling it “Ho-BALL” (like hose-ball), and that’s what it was called on set.  Unfortunately, everyone was playing with the Ho-balls on set, so I had to have my assistant go buy new panty hose so we could make new ones for the shoot. 

5) As soon as the prop guns were on set, the boys were like little kids playing with them.  Boys will be boys.

6) After the video shoot, we (Alexander, Gabriel, Giancarlos, Krislian who played Nikki, Andres who played Marco, and me) allwent to Wisconsin and stayed at a lake house for three nights. When Gabrielasked me why I wasn’t getting into a bathing suit and going  tubing or water skiing with them, I said, “I’m not getting into a bathing suit with boys with bodies like yours.”  He laughed, not knowing how serious I was!

(7)Did you know that Alexander F. Rodriguez was Katy Perry’s groom in her Hot N Cold video?  Two things happened that were funny. One, while we were driving in Wisconsin the song Hot N Cold came on the radio and Alexander was sitting next to me.  How cool to be listening to the Hot N Cold song while sitting next to the groom of the video!  Second, I was concerned that Alexander wasn’t comfortable in the room he slept in at the lake house, so in the morning I asked if he was Hot or Cold  - he looked at me with a cocked brow and asked, “Are you serious?”

Thank You Simone for stopping by! 


Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Perfect Chemistry # 3
Released: August 16, 2011
Published by: Walker Books for Young Readers

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill. 
Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules. 
Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?


SIMONE ELKELES is the award-winning and bestselling author of edgy teen romance novels. She was a teen in the 80’s and still use words like “totally” and “grody” but resists the urge to wear bright purple eye shadow and double wrap-around belts withmini skirts. She enjoys writing books for teens, even though she's not one anymore (but always will be at heart). She lives outside Chicago with her family. 

BOOK INFO: From the moment Perfect Chemistry readers met the smoldering Alex Fuentes, they fell for his love for his brothers, his mother, and for the perfect blond cheerleader, Brittany. The more they saw what was simmering beneath Alex's brooding bravado, the more they fell in love with him. Then they were introduced to Alex's equally intriguing brother, Carlos, in Rules of Attraction. Now, a new Fuentes is ready to take center stage: Luis, who's funny, smart, and full of big dreams. But those dreams are about to be derailed by a shattering family secret—and the love of a not-so-good girl. Continuing all the steamy romance of the first two books, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Simone Elkeles gives fans one more satisfying taste of the irresistible Fuentes brothers in this West Side Story with a contemporary twist novel.



  1. Great interview! I adore Simone and LOVED Chain Reaction, though I'm still Team Carlos!!! <3

  2. Can I just tell you how I am in giggles reading this interview? I love the behind the scenes! and I want to know more facts about the brothers <3 I'm a big Elkeles fan! thank you for this uberly wonderful interview!!!

  3. Fantastic interview with one of my favorite authors! Thanks.


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