I am very pleased to welcome author Holly Schindler on the blog!
Holly's debut YA novel A Blue So Dark will hit the shelves in May 2010!
First, can you tell me and the readers something about yourself and about your books?
I’m a lifelong book addict—after wearing out, oh, half a dozen keyboards or so drafting too many manuscripts to count, I FINALLY sold my first novel last winter, to Flux. In the past year, I sold two MORE novels—a second YA and an adult novel. I know--!!!! I’ve been working toward book-length publication ever since I got my master’s degree in ’01, so to go from zero book deals to three in just one year feels crazy-good.
My three novels are all pretty diverse. In A BLUE SO DARK (my debut, due out from Flux in May), Aura Ambrose is terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future. As the novel opens, we find Aura struggling with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay. As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her own imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.
Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process…
PLAYING HURT (due out from Flux in ’11) follows the flowering of an intense summer romance between two former athletes who have both endured game-related career-ending tragedies. But by playing hurt—entering into a love match with already-broken hearts—are they just setting themselves up for the kind of injury from which they could never recover?
FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS (due out from Blooming Tree Press in ’11) will be my first adult novel, and is definitely the lightest book in the bunch. This romantic comedy offers laugh-out-loud humor, quirky, lovable characters, and is a kind of fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land…
When did you know you wanted to write professionally?
Shortly after birth. Seriously—I remember thinking even when I was in elementary school that I would someday go to college, major in English, and then I would write.
What inspired you to write your upcoming book A Blue So Dark? What influences and experiences did you bring into the book?
I remember doing a brainstorming exercise early on in college: “What would you do with a red brick?” I listed all sorts of silly, wild stuff—crush it and use it for blush, put a sundial on it and wear it as a watch. My best friend in the class listed really practical, straightforward things: prop open a door, teach a child the color red. It just fascinates me, how people see the world. One view’s not any better than another (in fact, I’m sure there are quite a few creative souls out there who wish they could be far more practical with, say, their expenses), but I’ve always been fascinated by creativity…why it’s a geyser in some people and a slow drip in others.
In A BLUE SO DARK, I got a chance to explore where creativity might come from. For Aura, art and madness are inextricably linked. And there’s no denying that many of our great artists have been both creative AND mad, so she really gives readers something to chew on…
I also taught piano and guitar lessons and offered private English tutorials while I was drafting my manuscripts—most of my students were teens. I loved interacting with them. My favorite parts of the lessons were when my students would just start talking. About anything—their friends, their teachers, their parents. All of my old experiences came flooding back…I started mining my high school journals and notebooks, and when I realized just how similar my thirty-year-old voice sounded to my own high school voice AND my students’ voices, I was off and running…a few of the poems I wrote as a teen even show up in the book (though they’ve been tweaked to fit the events of the novel).
What do you like most about writing for young adults?
I love YA lit—in a lot of respects, kids’ lit is more inventive, more creative than adult fiction. And YA fiction still respects plot. I think a lot of serious adult fiction looks down its nose at plot, and that drives me batty. If you don’t have a great plot, what’s the point?
If you could be a character from your books for one day, who would it be and why?
I actually think Aura’s more like me than any other character I’ve ever written. I didn’t grow up with a schizophrenic mother—that element’s fiction. But her thoughts, her observations? It all pretty much sounds like me. I kind of feel like I already AM her, in a weird way.
What did you read as a teen? Which authors inspired you the most? And which are your favorite books and authors now?
My reading has always been completely varied. I’ll put down a classic and pick up horror. Put that down and pick up a whodunit. Put that down and pick up a romance…you get the picture. And really, it’s always been my policy to learn something from every book I read. Every published author has something to admire: realistic dialogue, poetic description, or the ability to come up with really great “hooks”—overall concepts that are timely and intriguing.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?
I’ve always been a pretty introverted person. So I really expected to hate the publicity aspect. When A BLUE SO DARK was acquired, I didn’t have anything up online. No social networking, no blog, no website. But I have absolutely LOVED spreading word about the book online. Bloggers have been so incredibly welcoming, and I’ve adored meeting devoted YA fans and bloggers. It’s a blast.
The hardest part of the actual writing process for me is the first draft. Once I’ve got it all down on paper, I feel an enormous sigh of relief escape my chest.
I adore revision, though. I just got the revision notes for my second novel, PLAYING HURT, from my editor at Flux. And I’m having so, so much fun tightening it up.
Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you’d love to accomplish?
I would love to be one of those writers who says, “So now that I’ve just started work on my eightieth novel…” Wouldn’t we all, though, right?
Seriously, though, I really am in this for the long haul. What I hope more than anything is that bloggers, YA fans, and I spend the next several decades becoming great friends!
…I’d also like to add that PLAYING HURT and FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS are very new acquisitions…at this stage, so much could change—titles, release dates, etc. I’m always posting exciting book developments on my blog: hollyschindler.blogspot.com. Feel free to stop by—or better yet, follow—to get the latest news. I always look forward to meeting bloggers and fellow book nuts…
For more about Holly Schindler, visit her site here