Here is the Winter Blog Blast Tour Schedule. A few of the authors participated in two interviews, but the bloggers involved were all careful to make sure that questions were not duplicated. Also, we have about a half dozen interviews still out there that will hopefully be trickling in this weekend (not that we're going down to the wire or anything....) As they show up, I will add them to the list. And as we did for the SBBT, everyday all the participating blogs will run a short list with links to the interviews that day, so you don't need to worry about missing anything.
Speaking for myself, this has been a lot of fun to do and so very interesting. The authors I exchanged emails with were all fascinating people and I've enjoyed learning more about them. I look forward to seeing what everyone accomplished as well.
Perry Moore at The Ya Ya Yas: "What better allegory for a Vietnam vet than a fallen superhero? What better allegory for growing up gay than a kid who has to hide his superpowers?"
Nick Abadzis at Chasing Ray: "I'm not sure that people, far and wide, young and old, know enough 20th century history at all. I can't speak for here in the USA, but in the UK I worry that history isn't taught in schools enough, not in a way that captures and stimulates the imagination or, at least, the investigative instincts of children. I'm not saying that there aren't imaginative history teachers out there â€“ of course there are â€“ but I worry that the curriculum isn't set up in such a way as to make history, sciences and arts attractive to kids."
Carrie Jones at Hip Writer Mama: "When I was talking to a NY-based agent about another one of my books, he said, 'Carrie, nobody has issues with gay people any more, not even in rural Maine.'
I want so badly for that to be true."
Phyllis Root at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: "Would you be more concerned with health care for all children if you were caring for your croupy grandbaby? . . . I do think that it would fundamentally change government if those for whom we govern were present and needing tending while decisions were being made."
Laura Amy Schlitz at Fuse Number 8: "I'll tell you how I feel about Candlewick Press. I had a friend who found a puppy in the street one New Year's Eve. It was sleeting, and she heard the puppy whimpering, so she scooped it up and took it to a New Year's Eve party. One minute the puppy was outside shivering, and the next minute it was sitting in front of the fire, licking champagne and Beef Wellington off the fingers of the party guests. That's me and Candlewick Press. "
Kerry Madden at lectitans: "There is a timelessness out in the country, and I imagined Truman Capote or Harper Lee in the backseat of some old Ford as kids driving the same back roads in a car full of relatives. When my daughter, Norah, (now 8) and I stayed for a few weeks in the Smoky Mountains, I watched her play, chasing lightning bugs, listening for the family of groundhogs who lived under the cabin...It felt like the rest of the world was so far away, so I tried imagine what it would be like to be a woman raising kids in a mountain holler...I love getting away from my day-to-day adult life."
Tom Sniegoski at Bildungsroman: "Boy, did I get looks when I'd start to talk about dinosaurs, monsters, and superheroes. My mother used to try and bribe me with Hot Wheels cars so I wouldn't like weird stuff. She's say, "I'll buy you this Hot Wheel, but you have to stop talking about Frankenstein." I'd agree, and then that night I'd be talking about the Creature From the Black Lagoon."
Connie Willis at Finding Wonderland: "I love Heinlein's books, but when I read Space Cadet, which is about teenagers going to the space academy so they can be astronauts, again, I was really annoyed at how "gee whiz! isn't this great?" attitude all the characters had. I mean, being an astronaut is a really dangerous job and living on a space station is downright uncomfortable. I mean, you can't take real showers, and there's no room, and I don't even want to think about how unpleasant zero-gravity toilets must be. But everybody in the book was just thrilled to be there, and I decided it might be fun to have somebody who wasn't thrilled be stuck at a space academy."
Lisa Ann Sandell at Chasing Ray: "I didn't set out to write violence. But, as Elaine's world came to life, and the grittiness of military life became more real to me, I began to realize that violence was very much a part of this story."
Perry Moore at Interactive Reader: "My parents taught me two very important things. One, none of us were put on this great earth to ride on the back of the bus, and two, the pen is mightier than the sword. Write Marvel, write DC, tell them what you want!"
Christopher Barzak at Shaken & Stirred: "Certain places are often used as settings over and over. So I wanted to bring a voice from this abandoned corner of working class Ohio to the pages of books. In some ways, I think it may feel anachronistic to some readers, and it is anachronistic in a way, because this area is a place that was left behind. We're still trying to catch the boat to the twenty first century. Hopefully someone will wait till we can get on board."
Autumn Cornwell at The Ya Ya Yas: "Which brings us to another issue, this time spiritual: do you determine the course of your life or does God? Is there even a God? Dum dum dum DUM! Vassar finds herself in a situation where she has nothing else to do but mull this over. Like many of us, she refused to ponder the big questions in life until she was forced into it."
Jon Scieszka at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: "I miss hanging out and growing up with a group of second graders. It is absolutely mind-boggling to see what those little guys learn in a year. I don't miss faculty meetings. It's equally mind-boggling to see what doesn't change in a year."
Gabrielle Zevin at Jen Robinson's Book Page:"I think we "come of age" our whole lives which is why I find it hilarious that we tend to refer to novels about teenagers as "coming of age" novels.
What is Madame Bovary, for example, if not a coming of age novel? There are only two great subjects for books and for life: the first is how to grow up and the second is how to die."
Judy Blume at Not Your Mother's Book Club: "Don't let anyone discourage you. You write because you have to, because of some burning inside you. Nobody writes because it's a cool thing to do. It's too hard. And it never gets any easier. But you'll get better and better at the craft of writing. I don't think I could have survived without writing, or maybe it was the creative work I needed so badly, maybe it could have been any creative outlet. I don't know. What I do know is how glad I am to have found my way."
Erik P. Kraft at Bookshelves of Doom: "I generally don't feel guilty about the stuff I like, no matter how cheesy it may be (see: ABBA, Barry Manilow, Project Runway). I figure if I like something, it has some merit, and if people think it's stupid, they can get bent."
Clare Dunkle at Miss Erin: "As I grew older, I noticed that the pattern of abduction for marriage has come up again and again throughout history: at times, large populations of women were hauled away into enemy camps or countries, where they were expected to settle down and keep the house for their abductor-husbands. This continues to confuse me. How can your enemy and captive wind up being a friendly companion and the mother to your children?"
Lisa Ann Sandell at Interactive Reader: "As Tennyson's curse was the incentive for me to go out there and imagine a better, more plausible, and fuller life for Elaine, I had no wish to curse her myself. And, as for the nature of the curse, I really don't know â€” it's a great question. I can guess that the weaving Elaine is the embodiment of artists everywhere, practicing her craft in loneliness, doomed always to observe the world but never to be in or of it. That makes a lot of sense to meâ€¦especially as a writer who practices her craft in solitude."
Christopher Barzak at Chasing Ray: "What happens when a murder or kidnapping isn't solved, though? The reality is we have to live with it, and carry it around with us. I wanted to write a novel in which that was the case, the thing the reader has to deal with, rather than giving that very satisfying feeling we've grown used to in fiction about murders that we can know everything, can discover everything necessary to bring a perpetrator to light and justice. That's a sort of comfort fantasy of detective fiction, and One for Sorrow isn't a police procedural."
Julie Halpern at The Ya Ya Yas: "I consider Prozac Nation and Girl Interrupted to be 'pity me' depression books. I'm definitely "pity meâ€� about some things, but depression is not one of them. "
Micol Ostow at Shaken & Stirred: "It's a hybrid graphic novel, meaning that it's a traditional novel with graphic panels and spot art interspersed throughout. My brother David is handling the illustrations (and all of the musical references, since that's much more his thing than mine. If it were up to me, the playlists would be largely composed of Madonna remixes)."
Rick Yancey at Hip Writer Mama: "Like I told my son recently while hunting for shark's teeth: The secret is not to find the tooth, but allow the tooth to find you."
Jane Yolen at Fuse Number 8: "Well--she gets on high horse and puts on teacher hat--scifi is said by people who don't like the genre or who's idea of the genre is Star Trek and, as Margaret Atwood so witheringly called it, "Squids in Space." We say sf or science fiction or fabulations or other things. As a genre it's very broad and deep and only some it has squids and space in proximity. (Though I do love the Pastafarians who worship the squid god.) It's a genre that can easily encompass Philip Pullman, Ursula Le Guin, Michael Swanwick, and Jo Walton and Bruce Coville-all favorites of mine."
Shannon Hale at Bookshelves of Doom: "I swear my husband has a fear of bad milk. He freaks out if I accidentally leave it out on the counter for an hour. What's the worst that could happen? Unintentional buttermilk? Please, catastrophic annihilation of all human life is much more dreadful. And likely."
Maureen Johnson at Bildungsroman: "For example, for permanent upgrades on Virgin Atlantic, I might consider publicly extolling the acting skills of David Hasselhoff. "The Hoff's got it," I would say, sipping a fruity drink while reclining on my flat bed seat. 'He's the new Brando. And yes, I will have that manicure.'"
David Lubar at Writing & Ruminating: "I think titles for novels are hugely important. A perfect title is clear, interesting, and layered with depth. It shouldn't be puzzling when spoken. It should also not bring up eighty similar hits when you search for it online. After Hidden Talents came out, I discovered that was the title for a Judith Krantz novel. When I was waiting for Dunk to come out, I was terrified that Walter Dean Myers would come out with a book with that title first."
Sherman Alexie at Finding Wonderland: "My strongest tribes are book nerds and basketball players, and those tribes are as racially, culturally, economically, and spiritually diverse. And, like Arnold, I also belong to a hundred other tribes, based on the things I love to read, watch, do. Ever since 9/11, I have worked hard to be very public about my multi-tribal identity. I think fundamentalism is the mistaken belief that one belongs to only one tribe; I am the opposite of that."
David Mack at Chasing Ray: "The Kabuki volumes have always had children's literature as a theme that runs through them. The first volume is a retelling of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Each of the characters in the story matches to a character in Carroll's world and each corresponds to a piece on the chess board."
Paul Volponi at The Ya Ya Yas: "I think my message to teens is that what they write is very important because it's real and from the source. I value what teens write. It doesn't matter to me if there are mistakes in it. I don't want to give it a grade. I wish kids would value there own writing and thoughts more than anyone's on radio, TV, or a library shelf. We're all part of the chain, and the things teens say and write are very important and worthy."
Elizabeth Knox at Shaken & Stirred: "I should say that while I'm wringing my hands about my planned horror novel or epic fantasy with zombies my tasteful husband is always encouraging me to write whatever I want to write."
Ellen Emerson White at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy: "It's very sad that so many starlet types in the public eye (especially a Lindsay Lohan, who is actually talented) are crashing and burning, but sometimes, I think they're so addicted to the fame and attention, that they're embracing the constant coverage and exposure, despite the fact that it mostly makes them look ridiculous. Even Andy Warhol might be flummoxed by today's media climate.
That said, I have to wonder where all of their parents are. A rich and famous teenager is still a teenager. It would be nice to see them get a little sensible, adult supervision."
Jack Gantos at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: "The Jack Henry stories are based on my life. I kept journals when I was young and wrote down the odds and ends of my days. I never threw my journals away, or lost them, and years later I pulled them off my shelf and reread them. Then I plucked out all the incidents and themes and characters and emotions which seemed to define my life and rewrote them."
David Levithan at Not Your Mother's Book Club: "I love not being in total control of the story and the characters, and having to take it one chapter at a time. The challenge, of course, is finding someone who shares your writing wavelength; with me and Rachel [Cohn], there was as much writing between the lines (hints and clues, dares and kudos) as there was in the lines itself. Sometimes we got what was between the linesâ€¦ and other times we went off on our own tangents. Every time Rachel and I talk about our books, we find out something new about what the other person wrote."
Micol Ostow at Bildungsroman: "And the very best thing about grad school is how much I get to READ. As an editor, you're always drowning in manuscripts. But for school, I'm required to submit a monthly bibliography. So I'm finally getting to spend time curled up on the sofa with great YA. How is that "work?" But it is!"
Laura Amy Schlitz at Miss Erin: "I can think of three things I really love about being a writer (and a great many things I don't, but you didn't ask me that.) I love it when the story tells itself to me. I love it when the finished book comes out and I get to hold it in my hands. And I love it when a child reads my book and says, "That was the best book!â€� and I hear the italics around the word 'best'."
Kerry Madden at Hip Writer Mama: "I guess I want my own front porch. When I was stung by yellow jackets last summer in North Carolina, I was in pain but trying to mask it, and the woman at the Stop & Go who sold me Benedryl said, "Bless your heart." I almost burst into tears."
Sherman Alexie at Interactive Reader: "The simplest answer is this: the two funniest groups of people I've ever been around are Indians and Jews. And so there must be some inherent connection between genocide and humor. I haven't spent a lot of time around other genocided peoples, but I assume they're funny, too."
Loree Griffin Burns at Chasing Ray: "At some point during that interview I asked him how many containers fall off of cargo ships each year, and his answer shocked me: between one thousand and ten thousand. Ten thousand! That was the moment I began to wonder how much trash was actually in the ocean, and the direction of my research changed dramatically."
Lily Archer at The Ya Ya Yas: "Even though being forced to deal with a (bad) step-parent is really, really hard (and ideally none of us would have to go through it), it is kind of an incredible learning experience. You will be way smarter and more mature and able to deal with crazy people than your friends with the super-functional-happy married parents."
Rick Riordan at Jen Robinson's Book Page: "I was a very reluctant reader until I hit middle school. I remember other kids being excited about reading incentive programs in elementary school, like 'read twenty books and get a gold sticker!' That just left me cold. I liked comic books and looking at photos in nonfiction books, but the idea of reading a novel was just too daunting. I would get bored easily. Nothing grabbed me. In middle school, I discovered the Lord of the Rings, and that was the first thing that I read for pleasure, but I couldn't find anything else as good."
Gabrielle Zevin at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: "The question I was asking was, how do you live in the world when it's filled with so much loss? So, when people ask me why I chose to write about the afterlife, I tell them, the reason we tell stories about the next life is because we're trying to make sense of this one."
Dia Calhoun at lectitans: "All I can say is I think that the more intensely personal and particular you become in your writing, the more universal you become. The universal is found through the particular. Fantasy, because it so often speaks through archetypes, shoots to the heart of what is universal. Take dealing with fear, for example. Fantasy can conjure up the vast and powerful darkness lurking in all of us through such particulars as magic objects, evil wizards, dread powers, and horrible landscapes. All of these are doorways to the subconscious mind where the deepest fear--and the deepest understanding--lurks. Fantasy brings the inner world out into the light, where we can then examine it with understanding and compassion, and then gain new insight into ourselves and our world."
Shannon Hale at Miss Erin: "Acting is all about character creation. I think it was wonderful preparation. But it takes so much time and energy, auditions are nightmares, and I just don't have a lifestyle compatible to theater hours anymore."
Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple at Shaken & Stirred: "Being a working musician for twenty years has made everything about writing easier. A literary agent I knew who was also in a punk band, once said, 'Why do authors complain about bad reviews? When I get a bad review it's in the form of a beer bottle thrown at my head.'"
Alan Gratz at Interactive Reader: "That said, (ahem) the voice I developed for Horatio was a deliberate homage to noir fiction, particularly Raymond Chandler. I know teenagers don't really talk like that and act like that. My intention was never to write an "authenticâ€� teenage voice for Horatio. Horatio talks and acts like I wished I had when I was a teen. He always has the right snarky comment at the right time, and he always knows what to do when the blank verse hits the fan. In my defense I called Something Rotten "aspirational fiction,â€� because we all aspire to be that cool, even though we know it's impossible. Horatio is as impossible as Philip Marlowe, or James Bond, or Veronica Mars. Could any teen ever be as cool and smart and confident as Veronica Mars? We only wish."
Lisa Yee at Hip Writer Mama: "I learned that the emotions boys have are not all that different than girls'-- it's just that the way they communicate is different. Boys tend to hold things in. Girls talk them out. Of course that all changes when we become adults . . . NOT!!!!"
Blake Nelson at The Ya Ya Yas: "My characters are sort of clueless or obsessed in some way about something. So I guess my advice is don't think about girls that much. Do what you love and the girls will find you."