Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memories of High School You - Danette Vigilante

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion and music have changed but that overall quest-for-self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  Fellow MG and YA authors will share their own spin on the hallowed halls.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.

This week I'm pleased to interview, Danette Vigilante, a fellow Verla Kay Blue Boarder. Danette's book, The Trouble With Half A Moon, was released in January of 2011. 
Thirteen year old Dellie lives with the guilt that her little brother's death was her fault. Her mother cries all the time and because she wants Dellie to stay safe, she keeps her inside as much as she can. It doesn't matter that Dellie longs to go outside to be like other girls or that there's a boy she likes and he likes her too. All that matters to her mother is that she's safe at home. So, Dellie has no choice but to watch the world of her housing project through her second story window. 

Things start to change soon after new neighbors move in on the first floor. Trouble like this has never happened in Dellie's building before. Now there are men fighting on the stoop, gunshots echoing through the night and Corey, a hungry and abused five year old boy knocking on her door looking for something to eat. Corey reminds Dellie of her brother and even though their friendship is dangerous, she wonders if this time, she'll be able to do what needs to be done. Will she be able to save Corey?

So after that, aren't you curious about the high school Danette? Let's go!
Senior Picture - Danette Vigilante
Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location?
I attended John Jay High School; a large urban public school a bus ride away. The school had a bad reputation at the time but I never ran into any trouble, thank goodness!

Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
I was involved with theatre and was part of the Drama Club. We were our own clique, roaming the school and getting into the auditorium whenever we needed to. Mostly, we didn’t “need” to. It was just a ton of fun to goof around on stage.
Danette in a production

Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
The teacher I remember most was my typing teacher. Every time I sit at my computer to write, I give her a little thanks. Because of her, my fingers know their places on the home row keys! I don’t think I’d get very far if I was a two finger typist. (How true is that! We had to cover the keys with masking tape. It's a skill that's held well.)

Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I began to write seriously. My first attempts were to the greeting card market but had no success. Next came short stories that didn’t really fit anywhere. Eventually, I found where I was the most comfortable; writing for young teens.

What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
I’d have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. I found it to be very inspirational and moving. I remember feeling as though I was a part of the book. To think that an author could cause that kind of emotion to the reader was just amazing to me.  (One of the reasons I'm proud to be from Alabama)

What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember?
When I was in High School, it was the needle on the record: albums! Believe it or not, I wasn’t what you’d call a big music lover. Sure, I liked music but I didn’t have one particular band I was crazy for. I was, however, a Rocky Horror fan. Every weekend, some of my friends from drama club acted out part of the show and we’d support them by being in the audience. During my tenth viewing though, I fell asleep and finally called it quits. I still remember most of the lines!

What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
Oh, man. I kind of had my own style. Jeans, of course, but most of my tops were pink or purple (people sometimes called me their “purple friend”). At the time, a lot of girls were wearing these flat canvas Mary Jane type of shoe that cost about seven bucks. I bet you guessed that I had a pink pair and a purple pair! (Lucky you, I didn't really discover purple till I was all grown up - the color of royalty, ya know?)

What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today?
I couldn’t say I’ve been influenced exactly though I really think being in drama helped me to observe people’s mannerisms and actions, kind of pick things apart. This definitely helps a great deal with my writing. 

Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
I was a goody-goody. Maybe that’s why I never ran into any trouble!

Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word?
This question makes me giggle. My best friend (whom I’m still close to today, hi, Renee!) used to tease me because I thought everything was “gorgeous.” 

Who was your bestie?  Your frenemy?  Your sworn enemy?  Did you ever have one that switched to another?  Why?
As I’ve already mentioned, Renee was my bestie. We became friends in junior high (she lived in a purple house!). We used to call her short but loud in high school and no one dared to mess with her. Maybe that carried over to me because I don’t remember having any enemies. All I can say is I was lucky (and thanks, Renee)!

If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
Do. Not. Take. Your. Eyes. Off. Of. Your. Studies! Study now, play later.

How do we find you now? 
I love company! You can visit me at my site: or blog: or on twitter: @DanetteVig   (J.Ro here - Danette's website is super cute, you should definitely check it out!)


  1. This is a 2011 debut I wasn't able to get to last year. But it's still on my radar.
    Thank you for this lovely interview and you're right her website is worth a visit. :)

  2. The book (and Danette- great HS haircut!) is very appealing. Having seen Danette's posts over at the BB, it is great to find her high school self here.
    The book's central them, of guilt over a parent, is a strong one. The Trouble with half a moon is an evocative title. Good job.

  3. Ooooh, what a great story! I also still have your book on my TBR list, Danette, and your high school story makes me want to read it more. :-) I love the title too!

  4. "The purple friend." Love it! Do you still wear a lot of purple?
    BTW, the pictures are fabulous. I can't believe it's been 10 years since I graduated high school. Where has the time gone?

  5. Thank you all for reading! Emily, I try to wear as much purple as I can! Kiperoo, I hope you enjoy it! Mirka, I have curly hair (that I've since learned to embrace) so that hair was blow dried to death. HeeHee! Akossket, so glad you liked my site and happy TROUBLE is still on your radar! :)

  6. Such a fun interview--I love learning about what has influenced different writers! I'll be sure to check out Trouble!

  7. That was fun! My daughter would have loved your outfits. She's a purple fiend!

    1. Lydia, your daughter has great taste!

  8. Danette,
    I loved Trouble with Half a Moon. This interview was so much fun! Isn't it great to "remember when....?"

  9. Thanks, Angela! I'm so happy to know you enjoyed Trouble! It is fun to look back-- especially when your kids go through your yearbook laughing their butts off. :)

  10. Such a cute fun interview! And Danette knows how much I love Trouble! It was one of my absolute favorite reads of last year! Course I adore Danette also and can't wait for more books from her!!!!

  11. Yay, thanks everybody for stopping by!

  12. What a fun interview! You also reminded me of how much I loved my black canvas Mary Janes.


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