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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
|Language||English and Spanish|
|Subject||Romance, Mexican/American Family Life, Gang Affiliation (Fiction)|
|Genre||Young Adult/Teen Romance|
|Publisher||Walker Publishing Company Inc.|
|Preceded by||Perfect Chemistry|
|Followed by||Chain Reaction|
Rules of Attraction is a 2010 young adult novel written by Simone Elkeles as the second installment of the Perfect Chemistry series. It spent three weeks on the New York Times Children's Best Seller List in 2010.
The novel, Rules of Attraction is about Carlos Fuentes falling in love with Kiara Westford and the obstacles they face when trying to be together. He moves from Mexico to Boulder, Colorado to live with his brother Alex. After he moved to Colorado he enrolls in Flatiron High School where he meets his peer guide Kiara Westford. Someone sets him up to be busted for possession of narcotics. He goes to a REACH program for troubled kids and lives with Alex’s old college professor, Professor Westford, whose daughter is Kiara. He gets a set of rules from Professor Westford. “First off, no drugs or alcohol. As you already know, marijuana isn’t hard to find in this city, but you have to stay clean per court order. Second, no profanity. I have a six-year-old who is very impressionable, and I don’t need him hearing cuss words. Third, curfew on weekdays is midnight, on weekends it’s two. Fourth, you’re expected to clean up after yourself and help around the house when asked, just like our own children. Fifth, there’s no TV unless you’re done with homework. Sixth, if you bring a girl up to your room you must keep the door open . . . for obvious reasons.”  Carlos tries to prank Kiara by acting like he’s about to kiss her. They start to have feelings for each other. The two of them end up almost having sex, but Carlos stops it because he doesn’t want to hurt her: “I have to get it out before I’m in too deep,” he says.
Carlos figures out who set him up with the narcotics bust: Wes Devlin. Carlos tries to fight Devlin’s gang because they threatened his mother and brother Luis back in Mexico but gets injured badly. “I struggle against them, but each punch to my stomach is taking its toll and hurts like hell. When a fist connects with my jaw once, then twice, then three times, I taste blood. I’ve become their damn punching bag,” he explains  The character Carlos decides he wants out of Devlin’s gang because he doesn’t want his gang connections to involve the Westford’s and end up getting hurt because of him. After his decision he enlists the help of Professor Westford and his brother Alex. Professor Westford has one condition: “He will have to enter the military or go to college”. He ends up getting shot in the thigh while protecting Professor Westford. He decides to enlist in the military and make himself a better man for Kiara (“I’m goin’ to enlist. I want to make sure Kiara’s got a boyfriend who has more to offer than a hot bod and a face that could make angels weep”).
The novel ends with Carlos and Kiara married for twenty years and have three daughters. Professor Westford ends up asking Carlos to take in a troubled teenager. In which he gives him a set of rules. “Uno, no drugs or alcohol. Dos, no profanity. I have three daughters and a wife, so keep it clean. Tres, curfew on weekdays is ten thirty; on weekends it’s midnight. Cuatro, you’re expected to clean up after yourself and help around the house when asked, just like our own children. Cinco, there’s no TV unless you’re done with homework. Seis . . .” He couldn’t remember what his father-in-law’s sixth rule was, but it didn’t matter. Carlos had his own rule he wanted to make sure was stated loud and clear.“Dating Cecilia is out of the question, so don’t even think about it. Any questions?” 
Carlos Fuentes - He is Alex Fuentes’s younger brother and described as tall, handsome, and with a lot of tattoos. He is also a ladies’ man, but falls in love with Kiara Westford. He was in a gang back in Mexico to provide money and protection for his family, but tries to find a way out of it in order to become a better person.
Kiara Westford - She is a tomboy, smart, logical and also a grease monkey, having a hobby for fixing cars. She is Carlos Fuentes’s love interest and the daughter of Professor Richard Westford. It is shown that she has a problem stuttering, but took speech therapy to try to get over it.
Professor Richard Westford - The husband of Colleen Westford and father of Kiara and Brandon Westford. He takes in troubled kids to try to change their lives for the better and works with the DEA sometimes for psychological evaluation. He was convinced by Alex to take Carlos in when it looked like he may not have any other place to go. He had lost his parents and little brother in a car accident and was the only survivor as a young child. As a result of accident, he was left on the streets and in and out of foster care before eventually enlisting in the military. After revealing his past to Carlos, he helps him get out the Devlin’s gang and gives him his blessing to be with Kiara on the condition he either go to college or enlist in the military.
Wes Devlin - A “business man” who recruited Carlos Fuentes into his gang instead of killing him because he need connection to Mexican drug dealers.
Alex Fuentes - A changed man and boyfriend of Brittney Ellis. He is the older brother of Carlos Fuentes. He was previously a gang member and almost involved in drugs before he changed for his girlfriend. In the novel, he attends Colorado State University and tries to help Carlos stay out of trouble.
Brittany Ellis - The girlfriend of Alex Fuentes. She has a disabled sister whom she looks after. Her parents don’t approve of her relationship with Alex on account of his history, which leads them to break up in the novel. However, they end up getting back together after deciding to stay together with or without her parents approval.
Tuck - Kiara Westford's gay best friend. He loves to tease and pick on Carlos, much to his annoyance.
Colleen Westford - A tea fanatic, wife of Professor Richard Westford, mother of Kiara, and Brandon Westford. She opened a tea store named Hospitali-Tea.
Brandon Westford - The six-year-old brother of Kiara who looks up to Carlos. He loves to play with Carlos and looks up to him like an older brother.
Nick - A drug dealer who also uses the drug he sells. It's revealed that he had planted the drugs in Carlos’s locker.
Ramiro Garcia - The best friend of Carlos Fuentes who had once dated Madison Stone.
Madison Stone - A pretty and popular girl with a mean streak. She was attracted to Carlos and almost has sex with him. He soon finds out that she was only using Carlos to make her ex-boyfriend, Ram Garcia, jealous.
Destiny - Carlos’s ex-girlfriend who he ponders about from time to time. The two had been madly in love before they broke up because they didn't want a long distance relationship.
Luis Fuentes - The youngest brother of Alex and Carlos Fuentes. He is known as 'the good son'.
Mrs. Fuentes - A worried mother who lost her husband when Carlos was four. She had Alex at sixteen years old because she wanted nothing more than to be a mother. As a result of her unstable life, she often worries about her kids getting in danger.
Michael Barra - He is Kiara's ex-boyfriend who broke up with her via text message. Carlos and Michael almost got into a fight because of Kiara. He has an odd passion for his hair.
Mrs. Garcia - A DEA agent, and mother of Ramiro “Ram” Garcia. She told Kiara of Carlos working with the DEA and her fathers involvement with the DEA.
Reception and Style
Rules of Attraction received mostly positive reviews. A critic from the Multicultural Review wrote, “The dialogue is witty and realistic, the characters authentic, and the setting of Boulder, Colorado, is described in much detail”  Likewise, the School Library Journal noted the novel's appeal to teens, stating that Elkeles “delivers a steamy page-turner bound to make teen swoon” The novel is notable in teen fiction for its ability to “help to tear down ... stereotypes in a manner that is both funny and genuine.” Indeed, Rules of Attraction suggests that cultural differences do not have to be a problem for today’s youth.
Despite its realism and appeal to a teen audience, the story was critiqued as being “contrived and rushed, and minor character are not as well developed” 
Rules of Attraction is written in the alternating narrative voices of Carlos and Kiara. It is also notable for its use of “brother dialogue... infused with plenty of Spanish, but clear in context.”
Elkeles, Simone (2011). Rules of Attraction. New York: Walker Publishing Company. p. 326. ISBN 9780802720856.
- ^"CHILDREN'S BEST SELLERS: CHAPTER BOOKS: Sunday, May 16th 2010". New York Times. New York. May 16, 2010. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
- ^Elkeles, p. 80
- ^Elkeles, p. 209
- ^Elkeles, p. 232
- ^Elkeles, p. 309
- ^Elkeles, p. 316
- ^Elkeles, p. 324
- ^ abValderram, Ari (2010). "Multicultural Review"(PDF). Multicultural Review. Florida. 32 (1): 76. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- ^ abcdNataraj, Lalitha (2010). "Rules of Attraction". School Library Journal. New York. 56 (5): 112.