Interview with Award-Winning Author Jo Knowles
Jo Knowles is the author of Living with Jackie Chan, See You At Harry’s, Pearl, Jumping Off Swings, and Lessons from a Dead Girl. Some of her awards include a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Notable Book of 2012, Amazon’s Best Middle Grade Books of 2012, An International Reading Association Favorite 2012 Book, an American Library Association Notable of 2012, two SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards, the PEN New England Children’s Book Discovery Award, and YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. Jo lives in Vermont with her husband and son. For more info, visit her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
If you were a cartoon, who would you be? And why?
The Roadrunner. Because he gets to say “meep,” race around happily, and he always manages to avoid falling objects and dynamite.
Have you been told you look like someone famous?
I used to be told I look like Pam, from The Office all the time. Someone even came to a talk I was giving because she thought I was Pam. I think she was pretty disappointed.
If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be? Why?
I think about this a lot and still have NO idea.
Crayon or paintbrush?
It depends what I’m trying to make.
Name one thing that drives you crazy.
Unsolicited advice that is actually really terrible.
Name one thing you can’t live without.
As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A veterinarian, a teacher, a policewoman, a social worker, a psychologist and an actor.
What’s your motto in life?
Be the kind one.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
It’s too embarrassing.
What’s the naughtiest thing you did in school?
I’m not ready to share the NAUGHTIEST. But one naughty thing I did was climb through the window on the second floor of my school with my friends Jeff and Marcie. It led to a lower roof and we used to sneak out during chorus practice and sit out there and “have deep talks.”
Do you believe in UFOs?
I believe in a future with UFO’s.
What is one quality you really appreciate in a person?
What is your favorite board game?
Balderdash or Quelf. I can’t decide. Basically if it involves being goofy I’m all in.
What food item would you remove from the market altogether?
What books are you reading right now?
Doll Bones, Bridge to Terabithia, and Ironmom
Name someone who supported your writing journey outside of family members.
My writing partners, Debbi and Cindy.
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?
It took about ten years to sell my first book and there were a lot of days when I decided being published must just not be in the cards for me. But little (and big) things kept me from not giving up: A strong reaction from a critique partner, winning a contest or grant), and the constant reassurance from my agent that it was only a matter of time. And of course, I think I was stubborn, too. It’s hard to give up on a dream.
What’s your favorite writing quote?
“Is it true yet?” – Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Ask yourself the above question and don’t submit your work until you can answer ‘yes’.
What inspired you to write your first book?
When I was in graduate school, I thought writing a novel would be easier and way more fun than writing a master’s thesis so I asked if I could try. I was sooooooo wrong. But it was the best learning experience I could have asked for. Hard. But extremely rewarding—and educational!
Which writer would you consider a mentor?
Robert Cormier. Whenever I need to be brave, I look to his work as a reminder of what his books meant to me as a teen reader and why.
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