Category Archives: Blog Interviews

Interviewing Marci Lyn Curtis

Marci Lyn Curtis wrote The Leading Edge of Now, which is now available! I love this book, and you should all read it.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Just when Grace is beginning to get used to being an orphan, her estranged uncle suddenly comes forward to claim her. That might have been okay if he’d spoken to her even once since her father died. Or if moving in with Uncle Rusty didn’t mean returning to New Harbor.

Grace once spent the best summers of her life in New Harbor. Now the place just reminds her of all she’s lost: her best friend, her boyfriend and any memory of the night that changed her forever.

People say the truth will set you free, but Grace isn’t sure about that. Once she starts looking for it, the truth about that night is hard to find — and what happens when her healing hurts the people she cares about the most?

Marci Lyn Curtis, the critically acclaimed author of The One Thing, has crafted an honest and emotional story that will resonate with the wide range of readers impacted by sexual assault.

Sexual assault does not define this story, however, just as it does not define Grace. Wry humor and true love emerge as Grace, like many in the #MeToo era, seeks to find her truth, face her truth, and speak her truth.”

She was ALSO nice enough to come on and discuss this book, her next one (sort of) and her writing process, among other fun topics.

1) What was the inspiration for this book?

Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for this interview!

 

This story came to me like all of my stories do—it just landed in my head, picked at me, invaded my sleep, whispered in my ear while I was driving, etc. etc. etc., until I finally broke down and wrote it. (Which is totally normal, right? RIGHT?!)

 

 

2) Every character in this book is supportive of Grace. How did you decide to have every character believe her? Was that a conscious choice or did the characters just react that way?

My stories are completely driven by my characters. Like, I have practically zero say in what they say or how they react. So this wasn’t a conscious choice at all, though I’m really glad that the story veered in this direction!

 

3) Do you have any advice for people who are trying to start writing?

Just write. Write what’s in your heart. Write for nobody but yourself. Write like it’s the last thing you’ll ever do. Just write.

 

4) Can you say what you’re working on now? (If not, see other question four)

I can’t give too many particulars about my next story, but I can tell you that it’s lighthearted, fun, and there’s an awesome love-hate relationship involved.

 

4) How was writing this different than writing your first book?

The process itself was the same, actually, which is unfortunate because it’s ridiculously slow: after the basic premise comes to me, I go into this long incubation phase (I’m talking months, sometimes even years), where I take notes, bounce around plotlines, start drafts, throw said drafts in the trash, take notes on characters, ask the characters what they need to say/do/feel, dig around for the heart of the novel, and so on. Once everything comes together, though, the story practically writes itself.

 

And the questions I ask everyone:

 

5) What are you reading right now?

I just got my hands on an ARC of The Impossibility of Us, by Katy Upperman, and I’m LOVING it.

 

6) If you could make one book required reading, what would it be?

Okay, this question is just plain mean. There are so many important stories out there. I’m going with the first one that came to mind, Every Last Word, by Tamara Ireland Stone.

 

7) What are your five favorite books? (You can do authors if that’s easier)

(Another mean question, FYI.)

 

Laurie Halse Anderson.

Katja Millay.

Jenn Bennett.

Jandy Nelson.

Matthew Quick.

Courtney Stevens.

Sarah Dessen.

 

Oh, that’s more than 5? I must’ve lost count. My apologies. :)

Me again. Remember, The Leading Edge of Now is available in print and electronically. You need this book in your life.

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Interviewing Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough was nice enough to stop by and talk about Love, Santa (the world’s cutest picture book). ETA: this interview was done when we thought the book was coming out this year; the answers haven’t changed. 

What’s the Twitter pitch for Love, Santa?

The book you need when your kids are ready for the truth about Santa.

What is the collaboration like between you and the illustrator?

I absolutely love Lee White, who is illustrating the book. He is inventive, thoughtful, and so gifted with the paintbrush. I’d loved his work from the moment I saw it many years ago, and have literally wept tears of joy when I’ve seen the art he is creating for this book.

What was the inspiration for Love, Santa?

When my daughter was in third grade, she asked me for THE TRUTH about Santa. We were sharing a letter journal back and forth at the time, and I wrote her a response that became wildly popular online. I didn’t think of it as a potential picture book at the time. Picture books are about characters. There’s a story arc. It’s not just a mom’s letter to her child. But after a conversation with my friend Samantha Berger, a brilliant author of many wonderful picture books, the right idea emerged. This book has the same heart and spirit as that original letter, but is an even more satisfying and child-appropriate read.

You write books for different audiences—which is the easiest?

I desperately want to write every book I am working on, and that makes the work both easy and difficult. Easy, because not doing it makes me miserable. And hard, because there is just so much  want each book to do for the world. In general, adults are an easier audience than children, because adults will often pretend to be impressed so they don’t have to be embarrassed for not liking or understanding something. Younger readers, especially the youngest, will happily look at a dead bug rather than listen to your boring story. It’s humbling and challenging.

Can you share the first few lines of text?

“When Lucy was five, she wrote Santa a letter.”

What were your favorite 2015 releases?

This was a really great year for YA books. I particularly loved INFANDOUS by Elana K Arnold and BONE GAP by Laura Ruby. But I write this as the year is just half over, and my TBR pile is towering, and I hate the idea of leaving books off. I love that we are still publishing new books.

What 2016 releases are you most excited for?

I have no idea. Truly. I have been immersed in work and reading and can’t wait to have my face melt in surprise and wonder that there are such good writers in the world.

(Martha did later email to say she’s excited to re-read Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo, which is out in January. )

Thanks, Martha!

Interviewing Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough was nice enough to come talk about Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary!
1) What is the Twitter pitch?

Everyone’s favorite founding father was a genius. He could also be a fool. And what motivated him more than fame or power? Even he didn’t know until the last few days of his life. Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary: It’s Complicated.

2) What is the most surprising thing you learned about Hamilton?

It blows your mind to understand how much he did, how brave he was, and how huge his influence was—especially considering his humble start as an orphaned bastard. It sounds like a cruel world, and it does convey the bias people had and the shame he felt, and how much he wanted to prove himself. This might not be the most surprising thing. Nor would his fascination with small details, such as the color of buttons and locations of flowers in his garden. Most likely, it was his incredibly tender heart. He was a man who loved. Deeply, passionately, gently.  
3) Why do you think everyone is so into him right now? Obviously the musical, but why?

The musical is an extraordinary work of genius. So that helps, of course. But his story is so dramatic and improbable. As I researched and wrote the book, I’d sometimes gasp to realize what was happening to him, and what role he was playing in history. I can’t speak to how everyone learned history, but my own experiences in school felt really rushed. We’d skim over everything, covering huge swaths of time, and it was hard to really wrap my mind and heart around anything in particular. The musical takes stuff we’re familiar with, but it shined the light on the remarkable human beings who risked everything for a set of untested ideas. I think where my book might be a bit different is it has the space to show how improbable and unlikely some of these things we take for granted really were. 
The questions for everyone:

4) If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

I’d never do that. It’s not because there aren’t books I want everyone to love. But rather, the best book is the one you find just when you needed it. Making someone read more often than not strips away the magic. So I’ll cheat and say I will make it mandatory for people to carry books at all times. There is no better protection, no more powerful weapon, no more healing tool than the right book at the right time. If you always carry one, you’ll be in great shape. 

5) What are you reading now?

I am reading a friend’s manuscript as well as a book by a German forester named Peter Wohlleben (which means well live). It’s called THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES and it is outstanding. I am living well within its pages. 

6) What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if it’s easier.

OK. So I have so many friends who are writers, and so many books I love, that there is no easy way for me to answer this. It would be like saying who my favorite relatives are. But I can talk about books that influenced me. THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss. PASSING by Nelle Larson. The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E.B. White. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.
 

7) What 2017 releases are you excited for?

I’ll know it when I see them! I have been so buried in work that I haven’t been following what’s coming out and when, but it’s a good thing because when I go to the bookstore, it will be like going to a reunion that I actually want to go to, and not something I just go to because I made a bad life choice.

Interviewing Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough was kind enough to stop by and discuss her new picture book, Bigfoot Goes Back to School!

1) What is the Twitter pitch?
YOU try to find back-to-school shoes if your Bigfoot. And don’t even get me started on getting a haircut. Or school pictures. NOPE. 

2) What is your favorite kind of book to write?
My favorite kind of book to write is the one that takes me by surprise in some way. It’s one of the funny things about being a writer. No matter how much you think about what you’re doing, no matter how much you plan, there is something about letting yourself slip into the hearts and minds of characters on the page. You find out things you did not know were true. And I guess this goes for fiction and nonfiction, both of which I enjoy writing. I love that. I love making myself cry and laugh, and writing is probably really the only way you can do that without being a complete weirdo. 
3) What was the inspiration for this?
I wrote this book with my dear friend Sam, and it started out as many of our conversations start out: as a joke. We like to play a verbal sort of pingpong, bouncing things back and forth, and this one struck us as being funny. Sam, who is much savvier about such things than I am, thought we should do it as a book. I was game! The next step was to take something that was a joke and layer it with the emotional business of going back to school when you really don’t want to. This did not require me to dig deep. I never wanted to go back to school, and I used to turn queasy every September without knowing why, and it wasn’t until I didn’t have to go back to school any more that I realized it was because of the annual shock to my delicate and sensitive system. Every since I realized that, September has become my favorite month, simply because I don’t have to go back to school. 

Interviewing Anna Fields

Anna Fields was kind enough to stop by and discuss The Girls in the Show, which is out August 8 (but may be pushed back–I hope not, though; I need it!).

1) What is the Twitter pitch for this?

Not sure — I’m so bad at writing for Twitter that I hardly ever do it. In a few words, though, the book is about comedy, culture, and kick-ass feminists throughout comedic history.

 
2) If you could meet one of the “girls in the show,” who would it be?

 
That’s so tough. Dorothy Parker, I think. If she’s unavailable because she’s too busy committing suicide, as she was prone to do, then Moms Mabley. But I can’t imagine she’d find me interesting enough to lunch with.

 
3) What’s the most surprising thing you learned?

 
How much the past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.

 
And the ones I ask everyone:

4) What 2017 releases are you most excited for?

 
My goodness, if I had time to leave my writing studio, I would have any idea what’s coming out. Alas, I don’t.

5) What are you reading now?
TONS of historical articles. Books: Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse by Phyllis Diller, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, and everything ever written by Andrew Dorkin.

 

6) If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

 

Fear of Flying — it changed my life. I own five copies and give out others as presents.

 

7) What are your five favorite books? (You can do authors, if that’s easier.)

 
The Aeneid, Fear of Flying, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, A Wolf at the Table, My Happy Life

Interviewing Kathryn Ormsbee

Kathryn Ormsbee was kind enough to stop by and discuss her new novel, Tash Hearts Tolstoy (out June 6)!
What would the “Twitter pitch” for this novel be?
A seventeen-year-old ace teen encounters fame, fun, and many a fracas after her Tolstoy-inspired web series goes viral. 
Would you like to be internet famous, and if so, for what?

Oh, heck no. Ha! Fame is such a volatile thing, and it can get especially brutal on the internet. Some people can deal, but me? I wouldn’t wish internet fame on my worst enemy. If I did get internet famous against my will, though, I’d want it to be a viral video of me scaling a building in order to save a cardboard boxful of puppies from imminent doom. 
The main character is asexual. Why did you make that choice? (And I think that’s awesome; we see a lot of gay and trans characters now, relatively speaking; not so many bi or asexual ones.)

Simply put, I wrote Tash Hearts Tolstoy to be the book I never had as a young adult. Your teen years are full of growing and questioning and questioning more, and it’s hard to figure out your sexual identity when you don’t see your story anywhere on paper. I wrote Tash to be a reflection of the world I see and the people I know. And I hope there are many more books featuring ace and demi main characters coming out soon! WE NEED THEM. 

What are you reading now?
I’m just finishing up Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, and I won’t give any spoilers here, but ugh, the feels. I’m also reading Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown and loving it to pieces. Lastly, I travel quite a bit, so I’m always listening to an audiobook. This week, it’s Word by Word by Anne Lamott. 

If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
What are your five favorite books? (You can do authors, if that’s easier.)

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Matilda by Roald Dahl 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

East of Eden by John Steinbeck 

What 2017 releases are you excited for?

ARGH SO MANY. I will limit my response to five titles, which should all be read with MUCH enthusiasm.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon   

Interviewing Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson was kind enough to stop by and discuss Her Every Fear (out January 10). 

1) What’s the Twitter pitch?
 When Kate Priddy swaps apartments for six months with a second cousin she doesn’t know, she begins to worry that she’s living the apartment of a killer.
2) Why did you choose to do multiple points of view?
The story dictated it. Originally, I was just going to tell everything through Kate’s point of view, but then I realized that in order to tell the whole story I needed other voice’s as well. In the end, I was really happy that the story is told through several different viewpoints.
3) Can you share the first sentence?
Sure. “The fastest route from Logan Airport to downtown Boston is a mile-long tunnel called the Sumner.”
And the four I ask everyone:
4) What 2017 releases are you excited for?
Will there be a new Cormoran Strike novel from Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling? If so, I’m definitely excited for that.
5) What are you reading?
I am currently reading the insanely entertaining second novel in the Joe Goldberg series by Caroline Kepnes. It is called Hidden Bodies.
6) If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?
I used to work at a bookstore, and when customers asked for my number one recommendation I would always recommend Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry’s western novel that clocks in at about a thousand pages. Most wouldn’t take me up on it, but those who did would often come back to say how much they loved it. It really should be a contender for great American novel.
7) What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if that’s easier.
My five favorite authors are Kingsley Amis, John D. MacDonald, Stephen King, Ira Levin and Barbara Pym. That list will probably change next week.

Interviewing Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake was kind enough to stop by and discuss One Dark Throne (out next year)!
1) What is the Twitter pitch? ONE DARK THRONE: The Quickening is over, and after betrayals, misunderstandings, and revelations, the queens are out for blood.
2) What gift would you like to have? After much thought, I would like to be a naturalist, because I’m pretty casual, manners-wise, and I’m big on animals, and sometimes I get so PISSED waiting for my avocados to be ripe enough to use.

3) Would you be the last queen standing? Maybe. I certainly wouldn’t back off just because my opponent was my sister. Her or me, she’s going down! Unless she was like, going to be such a great queen. Then I might be noble about it. 
And the questions I ask everyone:
4) What 2017 releases are you excited for? This is a total cheat because it doesn’t come out until 2018, but she’s my pal and I will probably get to read it early in 2017, so I’m excited for THE BONELESS MERCIES by April Genevieve Tucholke. Gender-flipped Beowulf. Beo-she-wulf, we called it for awhile. Norse girl mercenaries. Badass.
5) What are you reading now? I’m reading HEARTLESS by the wonderful and amazing Marissa Meyer. Also, Madam Bovary, by the wonderful and amazing(?) Gustave Flaubert
6) If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be? Just one? JUST ONE? Reading for pleasure should just be mandatory. It just should. But I guess…no. I can’t pick one
7) What are your five favorite books? You can pick authors, if that’s easier. I have too many favorites, but here are a few I haven’t mentioned in awhile: WE DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE by Andre Dubus, NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis, IT by Stephen King, VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE by Karen Russell, and MIDWINTERBLOOD by Marcus Sedgwick.

Interviewing Eric Lindstrom

Eric Lindstrom was kind enough to stop by and discuss A Tragic Kind of Wonderful!
1) What’s the Twitter pitch for this novel?
A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful is about a girl grappling with consequences of hiding her bipolar disorder and related heartbreaks in her past.
2) What was the first thing you learned about Mel?
When I first began thinking about Mel, I realized that as much as she was trying to protect herself, she wanted to protect her friends and family just as much. There are a lot of nice people in the world, but I saw that Mel, in her heart, was kinder than most.
3) Can you share the first sentence/paragraph?
My big brother, Nolan, used to say everyone has a superpower. Not a skill you learned, but something you were born with. And it’s not always cool. Some people get perfect pitch or good intuition, while others get something useless like being able to go a long time without blinking. But if you don’t judge, everyone has at least one thing they’re really good at.
And the questions I ask everyone:
4) What are you reading now?
I just finished the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer. They’re middle grade novels, but anyone who feels they’ve graduated to YA only might want to take a look – they are practically perfect in every way!
5) What 2017 releases are you excited for?
I’m particularly looking forward to “Under Rose-Tainted Skies” by Louise Gornall. Also “The Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli.
6) If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?
Well, just like no book should be banned, I think no book should be compulsory – I’ve personally been underwhelmed by books that received overwhelming praise – but of all the books I’ve enjoyed, or learned from, or both, I most highly recommend “The Annotated Alice” where Martin Gardner thoroughly and delightfully annotated both of Lewis Carroll’s wonderful books.
7) What are your five favorite books? You can do authors, if that’s easier.

The first three books of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series by Douglas Adams
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Junie B. Jones series, by Barbara Park

Most books by Dr. Seuss

I’m leaving slot number five open for the future…

Interviewing Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli was nice enough to stop by to discuss The Upside of Unrequited (out in April)!
What is the Twitter pitch for The Upside of Unrequited?

Molly has had unrequited crushes on 26 people (25 of whom aren’t @Lin_Manuel) – but crush number 27 may not be so unrequited. 
Alternate pitch – this gif: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/97/7e/57/977e572286b4ca99f36e0ff283f74a4e.jpg

Personality-wise, which character are you most like?
I am so much of a Molly. I poured a lot of myself into Simon Spier, but this is a whole new level of personal. I let so many of my own thoughts, fears, and preoccupations leak into her inner monologue – but she gets a lot of my joy and humor, too.
That said, when my own sister read the book, she felt like SHE was Molly, and identified me with Molly’s confident, opinionated sister Cassie. Such a reminder of how we show different sides of ourselves in different relationships! 
I love the cover! How much input did you have?
I love it, too! The cover was designed by Sarah Creech, Alison Donalty, and Barbara Fitzsimmons – all part of the ridiculously talented HarperCollins design team. They used artwork from genius artist Chris Bilheimer, who also did the art for the SIMON cover. I’m so thrilled with the result – I think the emoji, in particular, captures so much of Molly’s mix of optimism and anxiety. I love that it’s a little bit fun and irreverent, and I can’t wait to put that little face on all my new swag. 
Interestingly, while the team landed on the SIMON cover almost instantly, it was a longer road with UPSIDE. They were incredibly open to my input on the design, and the process was very collaborative. Initially, there was an effort to include a human figure on the UPSIDE cover (something that would sort of match the headless figure on SIMON) – but this particular story introduced a whole new set of challenges in this space. One of the biggest questions was how to represent Molly’s size and shape. Molly is fat, but in the text, I deliberately avoid specific numbers, measurements, or size details (it’s important to me that fat readers of any size can connect with Molly). A visual representation of Molly’s body on the cover would make this much more concrete than I had intended. 
Additionally, we ran into an issue of whether or not to incorporate Molly’s face in the design. After trying several variations, we found that designs incorporating Molly’s face felt too specific for this story. However, because Molly is a fat/chubby character, my team and I were very aware of the implications of including a human figure without a face. Designs with Molly’s face covered or cropped out brought to mind the dehumanizing portrayals of fat women in so much of our media. This was something my team understood deeply, and they ultimately found a way to represent the story without a human figure. 

And the questions I ask everyone:
What 2017 releases are you looking forward to?
Oh my gosh, there are so many. A few that I’ve read that I absolutely adore:
HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME – Adam Silvera

UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES – Louise Gornall

THE HATE U GIVE – Angie Thomas 

GOODBYE DAYS – Jeff Zentner

SEVEN DAYS OF YOU – Cecilia Vinesse

DEAR MARTIN – Nic Stone

THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE – Mackenzi Lee

AMERICAN STREET – Ibi Zoboi

THE LOVE INTEREST – Cale Dietrich

HOW TO MAKE A WISH – Ashley Herring Blake 

NICE TRY, JANE SINNER – Lianne Oelke 

And a few that I’m dying for: 
WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI – Sandhya Menon

THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE – Benjamin Alire Saenz 

THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS – Lauren Karcz

TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY – Kath Ormsbee

THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON – Katherine Locke

RAMONA BLUE – Julie Murphy

GIRL OUT OF WATER – Laura Silverman

AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE – Shaun David Hutchinson

IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET – Misa Sugiura

FIREWORKS – Katie Cotugno

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END – Adam Silvera 

ALLEGEDLY – Tiffany D. Jackson 

27 HOURS – Tristina Wright 

What are you reading?
Right now, I’m reading Lily Anderson’s hilarious, adorable, super-geeky THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU. 
If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?
I’m cheating and naming three books: Nic Stone’s DEAR MARTIN, Alex Gino’s GEORGE, and Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE. 

What are your five favorite books? You can do authors, if it’s easier.
This one is actually impossible for me, so I’m going to limit the field to make it a little easier. My five favorite authors I haven’t met in person:
-Rainbow Rowell

-JK Rowling

-Jaclyn Moriarty 

-Jenny Han

-Stephen Chbosky