An Interview with Erin Dionne

Hello!

Author InterviewLast week, I reviewed Erin Dionne’s latest release, Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting, and I was impressed with many of the elements that made up such an entertaining middle grade mystery! And so, I was delighted that Erin agreed to answer a few of my questions for her. Her responses tackle everything from developing a story from a male POV to choosing a Boston setting. I particularly like her advice to “read widely,” as I myself am trying to branch out from my typical contemporary YA reads this year. Enjoy!

Interview with Erin Dionne1. Your past four books feature a girl as the main character, yet I was impressed with how realistic Ollie, and his interactions with the rest of the male campers, came across. Did you do anything to prepare and/or practice writing in his voice?

Thank you for saying that! Writing from a male character’s POV was a little nerve-wracking, but I knew Ollie so well from writing the first book, that his voice came naturally. The other campers fell into place fairly easily, too, but I did have my friend’s 13-year-old son read through a draft to catch any inconsistencies. Once I got his stamp of approval, I felt much better! Writing from a boy’s perspective was a nice change of pace.

2. Diversity in middle grade and young adult novels is a huge topic, especially nowadays, but Ollie’s background and heritage was just another aspect of the story that I found effortless, not forced. Did you struggle at all with this part of his character development? 

It’s important to me that my books reflect the world that we live in, and Ollie and his friends are from a large urban environment — so the make-up of the Scout troop reflects that. Ollie’s biracial ethnicity was just part of his character when I envisioned him. As I developed him through both books, I included aspects of his background that were relevant to the story and his growth. I’m glad that you felt he came across well. Was it a struggle? Not really. I did a little extra research to make sure I had the Vietnamese terms I used correct, but the rest came from knowing Ollie’s character and family well.

3. I live near Boston myself, so it was fun to read about places that I recognize throughout the story! What made you choose the Boston Harbor Islands as the setting of the book?

As with Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking, I wanted to use the backdrop of a real mystery for this story. I’ve done a lot of research on Boston history, and there are so many great stories to tell and mysteries to uncover! But when it came time to actually write, I wanted to set the book in a very different environment from the first one. I needed Ollie to be out of the city and away from the technology he relies on. From there, the island/camp setting rose to the surface. And the pirate lore surrounding the Boston Harbor Islands led me to a fun plot.

4. The campers’ game of Gotcha mark some of my favorite scenes in the book {I would love to play myself!}. Do you have a favorite scene or chapter that you enjoyed writing?

The Gotcha scenes were so fun to write! I hope to play Gotcha this fall with some Scouts, actually! When it came to the writing, I *really* enjoyed the scene with Jack in the tree, which I think is the funniest scene I’ve written in any of my books. Also, I loved writing the chase scene at the end of the book. I flew through those last chapters. 

5. Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I think the best thing you can do as a writer is to read. Read widely. If you love mysteries, try fantasy. Read nonfiction. Memoir. Essays. Short stories. The more widely you read, the more ways you learn to tell a story. Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

And thank you to Erin! :) Do check out any of her books next time you’re in a reading rut. The novels are hilarious and engaging, so I have little doubt that you will enjoy them.

Have a terrific Monday!

Bella

Psst. Author picture by Aran Gilmore kindly taken from Erin’s website.

An Interview with Heather Demetrios

Hi!

Interview with Heather DemetriosMy love for the novel, Something Real, is no secret. Ever since I read it in late March {and reviewed it in early April here!}, I have been recommending it to every contemporary YA lover I see :) Anyhoo, I was delighted that the lovely author of the book, Heather Demetrios, agreed to answer a few questions for me! She shared her thought process behind different elements of the story and even provided a quick summary of her upcoming works – can you say yay? Enjoy!

1. In Something Real, there are many relationships between all of the characters, some positive and some negative. Were there some characters that popped up later in the writing process, or were you certain of most of them from the very beginning?

I was certain of all of them from pretty much the beginning. This book was very different from my others in that the whole thing came to me at once. Of course, it took a long time to get it just right and lots of things changed as I went along, but the main characters and plot stayed the same. The character that was the most random and surprising was actually Chloe’s school counselor {who she calls Diane Le Shrink}. She became this quirky lady who I kinda wanted to hang out with more and more. 

2. Every time I read a chapter of Something Real, I had to remind myself it was a debut novel! What did you learn along the way of getting your first book published? 

Everything! It was all new. I think the biggest surprise was how slow publishing is. It take about a year and a half from the time you sell your novel until the time it’s published, so you get pretty anxious and people keep asking you when it’s coming out. It’s so exciting, though, to see all the different stages. 

3. Throughout the novel, there are things {i.e. blog posts, tweets, scripts, etc.} added to further develop the plot. How did you decide what item/format to use and where in the story to put them?

This was one of my favorite parts of the novel – I had so much fun working on the interpolations. I tried to put each segment in places where we, the reader, would want to be curious what society was thinking or saying about Chloe. Because she doesn’t let herself read tabloids or anything like that, she doesn’t really know what the world is saying about her. 

4. Picking a favorite character would be way too hard, but do you have a favorite scene in Something Real that you loved writing?

The red T-shirt scene, hands down. :) I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil it for readers!

5. Finally, can you describe any of your books you’re working on currently and when they may come out? 

My next book is the first in a jinni fantasy trilogy and comes out on October 7th. It’s called EXQUISITE CAPTIVE. You can read an interview I did about it in Huffpost here, which also has a the cover reveal. My website has an excerpt, as well. In Winter 2015, I have another realistic YA coming out called I’LL MEET YOU THERE. This is what I’ve been calling the book of my heart – it’s a love story about a young Marine who loses his leg in Afghanistan and comes home to work at a small roadside motel with a girl he went to high school with.

Don’t Exquisite Captive and I’ll Meet You There both sound amazing?! I can’t wait to read them myself. And, as if you need any more convincing, be sure to check out Something Real; it truly is one of my favorite reads of the year thus far!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Bella

An Interview with K.A. Barson

Hi!

Kelly-Barson-InterviewIt has been over two months since my last author interview. TWO whole months. I figured it was about time that I shared another one! :) A couple of weeks ago, I read the outstanding novel, 45 Pounds {More or Less} by K.A. {or Kelly!} Barson, so I was so very happy that the author agreed to answer my questions. She had some really interesting answers; I particularly loved her advice for aspiring authors when they hit writer’s block. Anyhoo, enjoy!

1. What made you want to write 45 Pounds?

I really wanted to write about a girl who struggled with her weight, but someone who struggled more internally than externally–someone who worried about what people thought, even those who really weren’t judging her the way she thought, but in reality, had their own issues.

2. Do you feel like you can connect with the characters you wrote about, and if so, how?

Yes! I, too, have struggled with weight my whole life, and I, too, have imagined what people were thinking, even when they weren’t judging me. Like Ann, I’ve also had friends come and go.

3. How did you start to develop each character’s personality?

Because I’d written so many revisions, each time the story changed, I got to know my characters more and more. The plot may have changed a lot, but the characters just deepened. I also do character interviews. I ask weird questions, things that may never make it to the manuscript, but help me to know them better.

4. Ann has an interesting first job selling pretzels! Do you have any funny job stories?

I do. Since I’d worked in the credit department before my kids were born, I decided one day to open my own collection agency. I worked and studied and got licensed and all set up. I even got customers. However, I was a colossal failure. I talked to people too much and empathized with their stories too much. You can demand money from people who you get to know personally. I finally realized that I liked people and their stories more than money, so I became a writer.

5. And, finally, what are your tips for getting past writer’s block?

Take a break and take a walk. Read. Take a shower. Clean out your sock drawer. Do something mindless. Unbeknownst to you, your mind is still working on the story. In no time, you’ll be unstuck. I also find that I get stuck when I’m going in the wrong direction. Sometimes if I back up and regroup, I can find where my story took a wrong turn. Once I get back to where it went wrong, I can figure out where it should be going. Then I’m off and running again. 

A huge thank you to Kelly! And be sure to check out 45 Pounds – it is such a good read!

Have a wonderful Thursday! :)