Author Interview with Leslye Walton

LesGet to know Leslye…

Leslye Walton was born in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps because of this, She has developed a strange kinship with the daffodil. She too can only achieve beauty after a long, cold sulk in the rain. Her novel, THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER, was inspired by a particularly long sulk in a particularly cold rainstorm. When she’s not writing, she teaches middle school students how to read and write, and most importantly, how to be kind to each other, even when they really don’t feel like it. Leslye Walton lives in Seattle, Washington with her very gentlemanly Chihuahua, Mr. Darcy and her spirit guide, a cat named Griff. She is currently working on her next novel. For more info, visit her Goodreads page.

Quirky Questions 

What dead person would you least want to be haunted by?

I am quite troubled by the idea of being haunted by someone I once knew. I have some pretty strange habits—which sadly, become even stranger when I’m alone—and I hate to think what my friends and family would think of me if they knew what I was really like.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen?

I live in a pretty open and creative neighborhood in Seattle, Washington, so I’ve seen some unusual things. While in the park last summer, my friend and I saw a group of people building what turned out to be a full-sized yurt, and a man practicing his skills with a whip by lashing at a pole he hammered into the ground. I also have a neighbor who I’ve seen in the most unusual costumes—and in the middle of the day too. Once he was dressed as a cowboy, complete with cowboy boots and spurs, the hat and a bandana covering his mouth, another time he was in a trench coat with a fedora and carrying a briefcase. The next time I saw him, he was dressed head to toe in leather casually strolling down the street flicking the sidewalk with a whip. Maybe he was meeting his buddy in the park and they were going to reenact their favorites scenes from Indiana Jones? I like to think so. 

What’s your favorite zoo animal?

A sloth. I appreciate their lackadaisical lifestyle and carefree philosophy.

If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be?

I have quite a few tattoos, all with different meanings and for different reasons. I got one of them to honor the sale of my novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. It’s a pair of wings on my wrist.

What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen someone do?

I’m a middle school teacher. I see dumb things every day.

What song best describes your work ethic?

“I will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie. I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to my writing.

What is the most vivid or realistic dream you’ve ever had?

I have crazy dreams all the time. Last night I dreamt I was riding on a bus with a friend’s three year old son and we were discussing the merits of being a superhero.  

If you could make something in life go away, what would it be?

Lonely childhoods.

If you were to attend a costume party, who would you be?

She-ra, Princess of Power. Finding the gold boots would be tricky though.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

My earliest memory consists of sitting on a paper heart, surrounded by my preschool classmates, all perched on their own paper hearts, which were staggered throughout the room. The room was dark and we were given a box of valentines to open while sipping that syrupy orange drink (that I secretly still love as an adult) they always serve at school functions. I remember being at a complete loss at what I was supposed to do until I saw my friend across the room happily opening her valentines and sipping her juice. She always seemed to know exactly what to do while I never did (this sadly would be a trend that would continue on throughout most of our adolescence). I remember trying to mime her actions and thinking, “Is this supposed to be fun?”

What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?

I was a pretty good kid, but I did lie a lot. I felt completely justified in doing this though, because really, I was just jazzing up my stories. I mean, how interesting can you be at eight years old? Even to other eight year olds? My college professor once told me that kids who are good liars make good writers later in life, which made me feel better.

400867_129980053870926_1391475173_nWriting Questions

If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?

Lonely childhoods.

What made you decide to follow a creative career choice (though possibly risky) rather than something more stable?

I don’t remember it being much of a choice, and I don’t really consider it a career. Writing is simply what I DO. I think if I could have done anything else and still felt fulfilled in life, I would have. To say that it is extremely difficult to have a job in a creative field is putting it lightly. It takes mounds of internal motivation, determination, and, if I’m honest, a bit of delusion, and that is a lot to try to muster up on a regular basis. Plus, as sad as it is to admit, all that hard work doesn’t always result in happily ever after. I was just one of the lucky ones.

In terms of your writing, how would you like to be remembered?

I’d like to be remembered for creating memorable characters, the kind that stick with readers long after the story has finished.

If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?

I’m not sure if I had a choice. I think things happened the way they had to happen.

Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages in your work?

Does symbolism count? My work is typically thick with symbolism. What can I say? I love a metaphor.

If your writing were edible, what would it taste like?

Sweet and it would dissolve in your mouth, like cotton candy.

What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your writing journey?

The oppressing force of adult responsibilities. There were definitely times where the choice was between being able to eat and afford rent or having time to write, and unfortunately, food and shelter always won. These days, I have a job as a middle school teacher and I still struggle with balancing all the responsibilities that come with having a “day job” and finding time to write. This may be something only artists can identify with, to have the desire to work, but needing to find a way to live while doing so.

If you could interview any author (past or present), who would you choose?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’d love to have a conversation with someone who understands the way I think.

If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

“Bulletproof” by La Roux

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Author Interview with Amy Timberlake

thatgirllucymoonGet to know Amy…

Amy Timberlake’s newest book, One Came Home, has been called “a True Grit for the middle school set” (Bookpage), “a valentine to sisterhood and a bird that no longer exists” (The Washington Post), and “a rare gem of a novel” (The Christian Science Monitor). It was recently named a National Public Radio Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year and Bookpage Best Book of the Year. It’s a 2013 Junior Library Guild pick, and it’s been awarded starred reviews by Kirkus, The Horn Book, School Library Journal and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. As of January 2014, it became available as an audiobook and in paperback. For more information about Amy, and her other books, check her website.

Quirky Questions

Would you rather be able to speak with all animals or all foreign languages?

Animals. It would be useful and unique. Plus, Dr. Dolittle would be my colleague. I think we’d get along.  

Would you rather be considered a total oddball to everyone you meet or be considered completely average with nothing particularly interesting about you?

Oddball. Have you seen the pack basket I use for the farmer’s market? I may already qualify for the title, so I’m ready to own it.

Harry Potter or Twilight? Or neither?

Harry Potter. I’m not a big vampire fan – too squeamish.

Mac or PC?

Thank heavens for Apple! Otherwise we’d still be lost in the murk of sub-sub-SUBmenus and have phones with a myriad of features none of us knew how to use (or even knew were there). Good design is about communication. I salute you Apple!

If you could choose to write your next book on a typewriter or with a quill pen, which would you choose?

Quill pen. Yay! May I chose the feather and make the pen too? Fun!

Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Darth Vader?

Yoda. Talking like Yoda is a skill, but breathing like Darth Vader? I’d get light-headed. Plus, if I’m really good at Yoda, maybe I’ll get hired by the Jim Hensen crew – which wouldn’t be such a bad gig.

Would you rather have unicorns be real or mermaids?

Are you telling me unicorns aren’t real? No!

Writing Questions

What made you decide to follow a creative career choice (though possibly risky) rather than something more stable?

Writing stories is something I’ve always wanted to do. But early in my life, writing was something I didn’t want to admit I wanted (if that makes any sense). I’ve written stories since I was in fifth grade (possibly earlier). I took every writing class I’ve ever come across (high school, undergraduate, graduate and non-degree). But here’s the crazy thing: Until I was thirty years old, I tried to find another occupation. I simply did not want to accept that the thing I was most passionate about was writing. I started my undergraduate studies as a business major. But business wasn’t for me, and so I became a history major. After graduating, I started a doctorate program in American History. I thought I’d be a professor, and when I finally got tenure, I’d write fiction. When I discovered that I didn’t fit in the doctorate program? Well, I left the program and was at loose ends.

After that, I felt like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up – which was ridiculous because I did. I just kept thinking ‘Not That. Please – not that.’ But eventually – over several years — I accepted that I wanted to try selling my writing. Temp jobs became ‘day jobs.’ Weekends and evenings were times to write.  

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

As I’m writing I’m telling myself a story first. If it doesn’t interest me, I try to figure out what would make it more interesting. Do I need something to happen? What would happen in this story if it were written by say, Toni Morrison? Or Ruth Rendell? Or Gary Paulsen? Is it the setting? The tone? The tense? Or maybe the point of view? Anyway, I know there is something wrong and I need to find it. I believe any story has the possibility of being gripping. When it’s not, the fault lies with me. It’s very possible that I don’t have the chops to do what I want to do (or don’t have the chops yet…) Then if after a serious try, it still isn’t working, I’ll put the work aside. (A “serious try” is maybe, six months to a year of effort.)

If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?

I wish I hadn’t been so timid getting started. I’d like another ten years of solid writing practice.

What do you do to get into your writing zone?

Write regularly.

Do you pay attention to strong reactions to your work? Does that affect how you write?

Strong emotion is a good sign either way.  If you’re talking about critical reviews – that’s all good work and I’m so glad people do it. As a reader, I rely on them! But as a writer, I try not to think too much about it. My husband is the one that gets my Google Alerts for ONE CAME HOME.  

If your writing were edible, what would it taste like?

I hope it would be a seven-course meal! It would start with an appetizer that teases the palate, and ends with one of those surprising deserts. By ‘surprising desert’ I mean one of those deserts that look like one thing and when you bite in it’s crazy (pop, whiz, bang). Afterward, the first thing you say is ‘Wow!’ Of course, there’d be the literary equivalent of wine and maybe an aperitif too. I’m not saying I’ve done this, but this is what I want. Doesn’t every writer?

What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your writing journey?

My fears. I would love to have the time I wasted being afraid. Is there a worse waste of time than fear?

If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Not quite your question but for ONE CAME HOME, I listened to a lot of Chris Thile and The Punch Brothers.  For the book I’m writing now, I’m enjoying Yo Yo Ma’s Bach Cello Suites. I highly recommend both! 

amy-timberlake-photo_credit-mj-alexander

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Author Interview with Naomi Canale

NaomiGet to know Naomi… 

Naomi Canale is a lifelong Nevadan obsessed with anything vintage and Tim Burton. In between creating art and loving on her three children, she writes young adult and new adult fiction with creepy noir themes.

She is thrilled to share her debut His Dark Ways with you. Her other work can be seen in the anthology Love Stinks and she’s currently working on a new title she can’t wait to pull out of hiding. To learn more you can follow her on Twitter or visit her blog.

Let the conversation begin! 

Can you tell us about the book you’re working on? Is it coming easily or have you run into road blocks? 

I’ve written four manuscripts over the course of ten years and I’ve been keeping it safe, until now, so I’m definitely running into road blocks. I’m writing a piece that takes place in the late 18th, early 19th century. Research has become my middle name, but I know it’s going to be worth it. It’s dark and moody, and I even had a friend tell me that it made her think of Dickens and Poe, like they wrote a book together, and this is it. That was SUCH a huge compliment, so now I’m on cloud nine about it. 

Here’s a small quote to give you look inside… 

“Sometimes it’s not only the night that can bring upon such frightening wonders, but the day as well. In its order, with everything seen, there too are despicable creatures that go roaming about and the worst of them are human.” 

Are you a person who makes the bed in the morning? 

I do! I love knowing a fresh made bed is waiting for me after a long day of writing. It makes me type faster. 

What was the worst advice you’ve ever been given? 

Write as fast as you can. Worst advice ever for me, I know it works well for some, but I’ve found it takes time for me to write words that matter, throwing words on the page always had disastrous outcomes for me.  

1381990_10201703136276469_1452150152_nBest writing advice you’ve ever received? 

I’ve received some amazing advice through all the years I’ve been writing—there’s a pretty incredible community of writers out there. The first was, don’t give up. Simple, but yet, so many do. I’ve known (still know) many talented writers who’ve just given up, some still write but refuse to submit their work, ever, out of fear. The world is full of rejection. Even the best writers of our time have been rejected. It can be scary out in the unknown, but there is way too much emphasis put on “rejection” and not enough on “acceptance”, it can be crippling after dragging “rejection” on your shoulders for a long time. But there are a lot of human beings who will fall in love and connect with a piece, and we as writers should hang on to that, and keep writing. It’s an important gift to carry, and part of that gift can feel like it comes with a price sometimes, unraveling it for the world to see, baring our soul. But that’s okay, it comes with the territory and it can be a beautiful thing.     

If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them? 

Most definitely go! I love the opera. 

Who was your hardest character to develop? 

At one point, I wrote (in first person present tense) a demon. I was trying to get to the core of his anger and what would cause him to hate the world and that was not easy. Let’s just say I had a lot of nightmares because I have a pretty peaceful soul. 

Would you rather plan a party or attend one? 

Parties are fun to plan and I’d much rather pull all my creative juices together than socialize. I’m not completely a recluse though, I do like to come out of my cave every once in a while and talk to people, they can be pretty cool. 

If today was your last day to live, what would you do? What would you say? 

I would try to do as much good as I could in one day, kiss my family a hundred times, and put it all on YouTube. It may sound strange, but the world just needs more love/kindness and if I could share that for a split second, I would die happy.   

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Author Turf Interview with Ann Angel

$RL0QKDEGet to know Ann…

Ann Angel considers it her good fortune that she discovered the music of Janis Joplin as a bookish teen who would rather paint or write bad poetry. She became a writer and teacher and has penned a ton of fiction and many biographies including her most recent Adopted Like Me, My Book of Adopted Heroes (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013). That early fan-crush led to writing the award-winning biography, Janis Joplin, Rise Up Singing (Abrams 2010), winner of the American Library Associations’ 2010 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. The book also made Booklist’s 2011 Top Ten Biographies for Youth and the 2011 Top Ten Arts Books list. It is a 2011 CCBC Choice Book and received an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and more. Angel is also a writer of young adult fiction and nonfiction with critically acclaimed books that include Such A Pretty Face: Short Stories about Beauty (Abrams, 2007), Robert Cormier: Writer of the Chocolate War (Enslow, 2007). A biography of Amy Tan, Weaver of Asian American Tales was released by Enslow in 2009, and a student’s guide to Sandra Cisneros in 2010. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies including, Flash Forward Youth: 65 Short-Short Stories (Persea Book, 2011). Another anthology, Things I’ll Never Say: Short Stories About Our Secret Selves (Candlewick), will be forthcoming. For more info, visit her website. 

Quirky Questions 

What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?

When I was about 8 or 9, I hit the boy next door in the head with a rolling pin when we were playing house because I was ticked that he was going off to save the whales and wanted me to stay home under the lilac bush with our pretend kids—who happened to be mermen and mermaids.

Oh, wait, I once hit my brother in the head and he had to get stitches, but I was only about 6 then, and I hadn’t meant to do it. Johnny, if you’re reading this, I’m so, so sorry that you got broken.

What’s your idea of a good time? 

Quiet good times are spending time simply hanging out with family, reading a good biography or listening to rock or blues. But then a close second would be the loud good times I’m with my family or off at a writers’ retreat like SCBWI-Wisconsin with close writer friends and acting totally sophomoric, doing things like squirting my friend Peggy with a squirt gun, sneaking wine into a retreat center with Judy, or checking out the priest’s robes in a Catholic retreat center that I won’t name here with MJ.

It’s those silly times when I’m often falling off my chair because my family and friends get me laughing so hard.

Have you been told you look like someone famous?

I have been told I look like someone famous. Fortunately I don’t have a swastika carved into my forehead like she does, but my sister tells me I look like Squeaky Fromme who was one of Charles Manson’s followers. She’s serving life in prison so my sister’s comment is pretty creepie. But I tell myself I really look like Audrey Hepburn.

Name one thing you can’t live without.

Chocolate. 

What’s the silliest thing you have heard people say about you?

My niece brought her boyfriend over to my house, and I have a collection of magic wands hanging in my kitchen and sunroom. He asked, “What’s with all the magic wands?” She responded, “Oh, didn’t I tell you? My aunts on my dad’s side are all fairies.” I’m one of 7 sisters and two brothers and, seriously, my sisters and I do think we’ve got a bit of magic in us.

What’s your motto in life?

I’m totally stealing this from Anne Lamott: “Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” No….seriously, my motto is to show up to life everyday. 

What’s the naughtiest thing you did in school?

I have to admit I misbehaved quite a bit in high school. So, let’s see, was it telling a teacher that my mother was sick so I couldn’t do my homework? For the record, I got caught. Then there was smoking in the bathrooms. For the record, I got caught. I cut school. And, yes, I got caught… 

author imageWriting Questions 

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?

I was a quiet bookish kid in grade school and I loved reading. I also loved to draw but didn’t think I was very good at it. But it was watching Janis Joplin in action that made me realize I didn’t need to follow the crowd. I could stand up there and do what I wanted. So I started to write. I also still draw and take art classes, btw. 

What books are you reading right now?

I just finished reading AS King’s Reality Boy. I’m reading Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments, which is a collection of her notes and poetry. I also just downloaded Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal on my e-reader.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I’m going to be cliché here. Read everything you can. And write everyday if you can.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was about adoption for my kids. That was Real for Sure Sister. It came out at a time when parents were told to talk openly about adoption but there were no books on the market that I could read to my own four kids, all adopted. I wrote the book to tell them the stories of their adoptions. That book was in print for ten years and I still run into adopted people who say it was their favorite book. 

What do you think you do best in your writing? Bragging is encouraged.

My best writing? If we’re talking awards, it’s Janis Joplin, Rise Up Singing which won the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction award and was awarded a SCBWI Crystal Kite award among many honors. It was named on Booklist’s Top Ten Biographies for Youth and Top Ten Art Books for Youth. I love the part where it’s an art book because I did the image research and because it makes me feel as if I’ve achieved the two things I’ve aspired to be—a writer and an artist.

I just came out with a new book, a roundup of adopted heroes for middle grade. While the narrative perspective of Janis goes a bit deeper and I think it’s written from the perspective of a fan crush—a fan whose heart was broken at her death—Adopted Like Me, My Book of Adopted Heroes required me to tell many stories in brief format so it was a learning experience to write brief upbeat stories that introduce kids to 20 famous adoptees. For instance, did you know John Lennon grew up in kinship care? Marilyn Monroe had a legal guardian and Nelson Mandela was adopted by a chief in a neighboring village and grew up in a village where people cooked outside under open fires. Oh, and JRR Tolkein was adopted too! But not by Hobbits.

I think the short story I plan to include in a new anthology I’m editing is probably the tightest writing I’ve done so far. I’ve pushed myself creatively with this because “Things I’ll Never Say” is told from the perspective of a 17-year old boy who’s a good kid with a breaking heart because his refuses to acknowledge his secret. The anthology includes many well-known YA writers and is entitled Things I’ll Never Say, Short Stories About our Secret Selves and will be forthcoming from Candlewick.

What books have most influenced your life?

To Kill a Mockingbird taught me a lot about stereotypes and cultural attitudes and I vowed to work to change those attitudes for the better. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye has helped me continue to use my writing to make people think about the way we treat one another. Really though, every book I read teaches me something about the way I should live, the way of the world, the heart and soul of our existence. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’m a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and I had some amazing teachers. I’d have to say the people who still mentor me are Chris Lynch and Cynthia Leitich Smith. I’m afraid I’m missing some names here – Norma Fox Mazer was an amazingly tough mentor who always said, “Good enough isn’t good enough.” She became a close friend and we often shared emails about raising kids and writing. She died about five years ago and I still miss her. I’m afraid I’m missing some names here. So let me say there was such an amazing group of people who have helped me write and grow–to all of you, Thank you! And I’m sorry if I neglected you here.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily?

Toughest thing? I can’t write a picture book to save my soul. I’ve tried, and it’s frustrating, but I just can’t get there. I’m loving the short story form lately because it’s forcing me to write short and tight. I love the feel of story arc as it plays out in this form. As I write and revise, I swear, I can feel the story arc rise and fall.

Janis Joplin

 

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Interview with Award-Winning Author Todd Strasser

cvr9781442457218_9781442457218_hrGet to know Todd…

Todd Strasser  is the author of more than 100 books for teens and middle graders including the best-selling Help! I’m Trapped In … series.  He has written numerous award-winning YA novels including The Accident, The Wave, Give A Boy A Gun, Boot Camp,  If I Grow Up, Fallout and the forthcoming No Place.  His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and several have been adapted into feature films.  Recent novels include the YA “Thrillogy”, Wish You Were Dead, Blood on My Hands, and Kill You Last. He has also written for television, newspapers, and magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire, and The New York Times. For more info, visit his website

Quirky Questions

Would you rather live in a world where there were no problems or a world where you ruled supreme?

We were just talking about this the other day. I fear that a world with no problems would be dreadfully boring and leave authors with nothing to write about.  And unfortunately I would make a terrible ruler. What I actually do think would be best would be if only women were allowed to hold the highest leadership positions. I suspect it would take a lot of the testosterone out of world politics and make it a better and more peaceful place. Woody Allen would probably add that the worst that could happen would be that two countries wouldn’t speak to each other for a few months.

Would you rather endure a zombie apocalypse or World War III?

They’re sort of the same thing, aren’t they?

Would you rather be able to speak with all animals or all foreign languages? 

This is a tough one.  I really would like to be able to speak to all animals, especially my girlfriend’s Tibetan terrier, who I accidentally walked through the invisible fence a few nights ago. It was a total accident. It had been months since she’d had that collar on. She (the dog not the girlfriend) still hasn’t forgiven me. On the other hand, I’ve always, and I do mean always, wanted to speak other languages. It makes you seem really smart even if you’re not.

Would you rather be deaf in one ear or only be able to use the Internet one hour per week?

Are you kidding? What do we need two ears for?

Would you rather have a free Starbucks for a year or free iTunes forever?

Believe it or not, I use neither. Instead, can I please speak all languages AND talk to animals?

Would you rather be considered a total oddball to everyone you meet or be considered completely average with nothing particularly interesting about you?

Well, since I’m pretty much the latter, I’d really enjoy being an oddball, but a nice oddball who you wouldn’t mind having dinner with.

Would you rather be the richest person alive or immortal?

To me there’s not much difference between having enough and having more than enough, so I’d go with immortality as long as I could be 35 forever.

Harry Potter or Twilight? Or neither?

To me they’re not even in the same ballpark. HP hands down.

Mac or PC?

Depends on where I am. I’m PC at home but my kids and girlfriend are all Mac.

If you could choose to write your next book on a typewriter or with a quill pen, which would you choose?

Typewriter.

Would you rather always be underdressed or overdressed?

You can always shed layers.

Would you rather have a rewind button for your life or a pause button?

Rewind.

What would you do if you found out that your whole life is actually just one long dream?

Keep dreaming.

Fallout_Todd-StrasserWriting Questions

If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?  

The dissolution of violence and hate.

What made you decide to follow a creative career choice (though possibly risky) rather than something more stable?

In a way I had no choice. I have to write and I’m fortunate enough to make a living at it. Otherwise I’d still be writing, just not making a living.

In terms of your writing, how would you like to be remembered?

At this point I’d just like to be remembered, period.

How has personal experience influenced your writing?

This is a joke question, right? Right?

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

I like to vary my subjects and approaches. My most recent book, FALLOUT, is partly memoir and partly alternate history. My next book, NO PLACE, is realistic fiction. The book after that will be science fiction adventure and the one after that, I hope, will be a steampunk romantic mystery.

If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?

I think I would basically take the same path, but would add a few movie scripts to the oeuvre.

What do you do to get into your writing zone?

Coffee > New York Times > E-mail >  Get to work!

What is your favorite accomplishment?

After my kids and my career? Learning to surf at the age of 52.

Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages in your work?

I like to keep my messages in plain sight.

Do you pay attention to others’ strong reactions to your work?

Yes, especially the ones I disagree with.

If your writing were edible, what would it taste like?

Dark chocolate sea salt caramel.

Has rejection ever affected your desire to continue writing?

I faced a lot of non-writing rejection before I started writing, so when the writing rejections came it was just more of the same. No bigggie.

What kind of jobs did you have before your career took off? 

Newspaper reporter, advertising script writer, beer vendor, proprietor of a risqué fortune cookie company (no joke).

What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your writing journey?

The inability to spel.

If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose?

The golden age of Hollywood (1927-1963)

If you could interview any author (past or present), who would you choose?

Shakespeare 1) To know once and for all if he really existed 2) To find out how he produced so much phenomenal writing.

If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d Rather Have A Bottle In Front Of Me Than A Frontal Lobotomy by Tom Waits

cvr9781416925231_9781416925231_hr

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Author Turf Interview with Caroline Starr Rose

May-B.-cover-jpegGet to know Caroline…

Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. As a girl she danced ballet, raced through books, composed poetry on an ancient typewriter, and put on magic shows in a homemade cape. She’s taught both social studies and English in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Caroline’s the author of May B. (2012), Over in the Wetlands, (2015), and Blue Birds (2015). Visit her at her blog and website.

Quirky Questions 

What is one place you want to visit before you die?

Greenland!

What are you currently reading?

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman

Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Case of the Black-Hooded Hangman (Hank the Cow Dog #24) by John R. Erickson

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller

What’s your passion?

Kids, words, and books.

If the past year of your life was a slogan, what would it be?

Slow and steady wins the race.

What’s one of the last things you remember buying?

The Garden Harvest plate at Flying Star Cafe. I’m eating it as I work on this interview!

Puzzles or board games?

Board games. My husband and I once played through all the Trivial Pursuit cards in six weeks. We taught our boys to play the card game cribbage when they were six or so, and it’s something the four of us play all the time. The boys often skunk us (beat us by 30 points) or double skunk us (beat us by 60 points), but we always come back for more. 

Writing Questions 

Name someone who supported your writing journey outside of family members.

My dear friend, Jamie C. Martin, has been a huge support over the years.When I’m stuck or feel like I’m trying to tackle a topic, style, or piece of history that’s too big and scary to take on, she reminds me I have important things to say (even if I’m not sure what they are yet) and encourages me to stay brave, because good work is often hard work. 

Was there ever a time in your writing career where you wanted to seriously give up? If so, how did you find the motivation to continue?

Oh, yes. There’s a point when you’re pursuing publication that you start to get positive responses to the work you’re submitting (I started in the late nineties, when most new writers were subbing directly to editors, not agents). When manuscripts are requested, the stakes suddenly are higher — and the disappointment is increased tenfold when you’re told no. Yet even when I thought of quitting, I’d wake up the next day curious about my characters. I found I was interested in the writing for writing’s sake. It was easier to keep going than to try and stop. 

What’s your favorite writing quote?

“Learn to write this book.” — Elizabeth Bear 

I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but this quote has freed me up to write each book as it needs to be written. I tend to be a rule follower, even when no official rules exist! Knowing I don’t have to commit to the same system or approach for each book has been liberating for me. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

These two things kept me going the twelve years it took for me to sell my first book: 1) Remember you have something unique to say. 2) Your writing can only get better if you keep working at it. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Katherine Paterson. I adore her, have such respect for her, and generally want to be her when I grow up. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily? 

All of it is challenging! But particularly drafting. I’m terrified of starting something new. The whole experience is so overwhelming. I’d much rather have a finished draft to work from, even if it means throwing it all away. It’s much easier to make something from something than something from nothing. I don’t think anything comes easily for me, yet I keep at it. It’s what I love and what I do. 

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Interview with Newbery Honor Author Kirby Larson

9780545416375Get to know Kirby…

Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, Hattie Big Sky. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as The Fences Between Us, and The Friendship Doll, as well as her latest, Duke, and Hattie Ever After.

A collaboration with good friend Mary Nethery has resulted in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle.

Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, traveling, or drinking lattés with friends. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it. For more info, visit her website and blog.

Quirky Questions

What question do you tire of answering?

“How old are you?”

Would you rather live in a world where there were no problems or a world where you ruled supreme?

If I ruled supreme, there would be big problems.

Would you rather be four feet tall or seven feet tall? 

Four feet tall, because then I’d be able to see the world even better through the eyes of a kid.

Would you rather be a one hit wonder or be an average singer for as long as you want?

I would love to be able to sing. Period.

Would you rather be the richest person alive or immortal?

I am the richest person alive (or at least one of!) because I get to do what I love as a career.

Harry Potter or Twilight? Or neither?

Harry, all the way.

Mac or PC?

I only have eyes for my Mac.

If you could choose to write your next book on a typewriter or with a quill pen, which would you choose?

Typewriter. I gotta pound the keys for the ideas to flow.

In your opinion, is it worse to be ignorant or a know-it-all?

A know-it-all; ignorance can be fixed.

Would you rather have a rewind button for your life or a pause button?

A pause button! Do you know where I can get one?

Would you rather have the ability to read minds or teleport?

Teleport because I love visiting new places but am not overly fond of the travel to get to them.

Would you rather have unicorns be real or mermaids?

Since I’m not a water person, unicorns. Definitely.

friendship-dollWriting Questions

If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?

I would love to make the people of the world (me included!) a bit kinder toward one another.

What made you decide to follow a creative career choice (though possibly risky) rather than something more stable?

The decision was made for me, long ago, when I first discovered books.

In terms of your writing, how would you like to be remembered?

Fondly.

How has personal experience influenced your writing?

Hard to think of any ways it hasn’t influenced my writing.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

Plan trips to Italy that I need to pay for with my writing. 

If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?

Not sure about that, but I would ask for more help and earlier on. I tried to go it on my own for too long.

What do you do to get into your writing zone?

Sit down at my desk.

What is your favorite accomplishment?

Three favorites: staying married to the same man for 38 years and raising two amazing people.

Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages in your work?

If I told you, they wouldn’t be hidden!

Do you pay attention to strong reactions to your work? Does that affect what you create?

I get discouraged when I read harsh criticism and skeptical when I read something that’s overly enthusiastic so I’m better off not to read too many reviews, etc.

If your writing were edible, what would it taste like?

Either red licorice (NOT Twizzlers!) or Hot Tamales.

Have you ever felt enlightened by an event in the past that has given you a new perspective on life?

Every single day – hard not to when your passion is historical fiction.

Has rejection ever affected your desire to continue writing?

Yes. It made me quit writing once. For six months. I started up again when my then seven-year-old son asked me to start writing again because I was too grumpy when I wasn’t writing.

What kind of jobs did you have before your career took off?

Only glamorous ones like cleaning houses, cold calling for an employment agency and being a [terrible] receptionist/secretary for my husband’s fledgling business.

What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your writing journey?

It’s the opposing force I still face: self-doubt.

If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose?

The Harlem Renaissance.

If you could interview any author (past or present), who would you choose?

Well, I’d love to interview Flannery O’Connor but would probably be terrified to.

If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

“Tomorrow,” from the musical Annie.hattie-ever-after

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