Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Five Questions: Emily Franklin

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“The book changed all that for them – they left town, stayed safe, and found the strength to keep going.”

Emily Franklin is the author of Last Night at the Circle Cinema and will be one of the speakers at the Boston Teen Author Festival in Cambridge, September 26.

1. What’s the surprising inspiration behind one (your choice) of the characters or stories you’ve created?
LAST NIGHT AT THE CIRCLE CINEMA is set at the real abandoned Circle theatre outside of Boston. It housed a lot of teenage afternoons and evenings, some heartaches and lust-filled lobby visits for unnecessary Sno-Caps. When I wrote this novel, the Circle became a character (and a metaphor).
2. If you could rescue one obscure book and make it more widely known to the world, which book would you choose and why?
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright. It was one of my favorites – set on a farm in Wisconsin circa 1920s with amazing descriptions. Each chapter is its own story that fits with the novel but has a beginning, middle, and end.
3. You can ask one question to any author, living or dead. What would you ask and why?
Emily Danforth, can our characters be friends (or us)? Why: because she’s a great writer and I think our people could have adventures together.
Or Flannery O’connor – will you read aloud to me? Why: Read A Good Man is Hard to Find and you’ll see.
4. What’s the best (or your favorite) feedback you’ve received from a reader?
When Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom came out (nod to its LGBTQ main character), I received a letter from a person who had been contemplating suicide because of their sexual orientation and family and town’s hatred. The book changed all that for them – they left town, stayed safe, and found the strength to keep going.
5. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve received from a teacher?
“Write the story and end it with ‘…but it turned out to be a dream.”
For more information about Emily Franklin and her books:
Visit her online at: http://emilyfranklin.com 

The Five Questions: Becky Albertalli

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Photo courtesy of Decisive Moments Events

Photo courtesy of Decisive Moments Events

“I see a lot of people saying you have to have connections in the industry to get a book deal. Absolutely not true.”

Becky Albertalli is the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and will be a fellow panelist at the Boston Teen Author Festival in Cambridge this September 26.

1. What’s the surprising inspiration behind one (your choice) of the characters or stories you’ve created?

While it’s probably not surprising that I drew upon my high school journals for inspiration, it might surprise readers to know that two scenes in Simon are pulled almost directly from the journals. But I won’t specify which scenes.

2. If you could rescue one obscure book and make it more widely known to the world, which book would you choose and why?

Jaclyn Moriarty’s adult book, I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. I’m not sure if this is obscure in Australia, but I wasn’t able to get it in the US without ordering it from abroad. It’s one of my all-time favorite books.

3. You can ask one question to any author, living or dead. What would you ask and why?

I would ask J.K. Rowling to marry me. I’m guessing this requires no explanation.

4. What’s the best (or your favorite) feedback you’ve received from a reader?

I’ve gotten so much incredible feedback, including letters from several teen readers who came out to their friends and families after reading Simon! But I also love something one of my friends said to me recently: “I’m so glad I loved your book as much as I was going to say I loved it.”

5. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve received from a teacher?

I don’t know that I’ve ever received bad writing advice from a teacher, but I guess I’ve come across questionable advice on writing forums. This one’s more related to publishing than writing, but I see a lot of people saying you have to have connections in the industry to get a book deal. Absolutely not true.

For more information about Becky Albertalli and her books:

Visit her online at: www.beckyalbertalli.com

Join her on Twitter at @beckyalbertalli

The Five Questions: Kekla Magoon

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KeklaMagoon-Hi Res 1

“‘Write what you know’ is the worst advice.”

Fortunately, Kekla Magoon has better advice. She is the author of many novels, including the recently published How it Went Down, and will be one of the excellent authors featured at the Boston Teen Author Festival at the Cambridge Public Library on Saturday, September 26.

1. What’s the surprising inspiration behind one (your choice) of the characters or stories you’ve created?

I wrote about the Black Panthers and Malcolm X, and my stories help to show that these guys were really quite different than what is stereotypically thought about radical black activists. I portray them in a way that is true to the real life inspiration, but may be surprising to some readers, which I love, because it helps broaden people’s understandings of civil rights activism.

2. If you could rescue one obscure book and make it more widely known to the world, which book would you choose and why?

In high school I loved a book called Being of Two Minds, by Pamela F. Service. It’s about two best friends, Connie and Rudy, who share a unique telepathic link. As a lonely teen, I really liked the friendship story there, and the fantasy of being very connected to one special friend who would travel across the world to save you.

3. You can ask one question to any author, living or dead. What would you ask and why?

I would want to talk to Audre Lorde. I’ve always loved her quote: “Your silence will not protect you.” I’d ask her if there was anything about which she remained silent that she regrets.

4. What’s the best (or your favorite) feedback you’ve received from a reader?

A seventh-grader once told me, “I was reading your book and it was time to go to bed, but I didn’t want to stop reading, so I took it into the bathroom, propped it on the mirror, and read it while I brushed my teeth.”

5. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve received from a teacher?

“Write what you know” is the worst advice. If you worry too much about writing based on your experience, you cut off your imagination, and what you write can come out sounding stilted. Your experiences, history, and knowledge are going to inform your writing whether you mean them to or not. Just as fantasy can be the most effective allegory for society, any piece of fiction inherently reflects the thoughts and hopes of its author. The intersection between your imagination and your real self is where the magic of storytelling happens.

For more information about Kekla Magoon and her books:

Visit her online at: keklamagoon.com
Follow her on Twitter: @KeklaMagoon

The Five Questions: Kendall Kulper

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Kulper

“I would sit in the cafeteria writing page after page, and kids would line up down the table, reading every page as I wrote it.”

On Saturday, September 26th, Kendall Kulper will one of the terrific YA authors speaking, reading and engaging at the Boston Teen Author Festival at the Cambridge Public Library. Consider this a preview on her point-of-view:

1. What’s the surprising inspiration behind one (your choice) of the characters or stories you’ve created?

Well, my second novel DRIFT & DAGGER basically came about because I fell in love with a throwaway character in my first novel, SALT & STORM. I needed a slightly-nefarious Han-Solo-like ship captain, so I created this character, gave him a handful of lines, and figured that was it. But I kept thinking about him—his name, his story, where he fit into the world—and when my editor asked if I might be interested in writing another book in SALT & STORM’s world, I immediately thought about this character.

I never would have thought I’d write a whole book about this guy, but I absolutely loved exploring the world through his eyes!

2. If you could rescue one obscure book and make it more widely known to the world, which book would you choose and why?

I have a special place in my heart for a YA I read when I was a kid, a book called CELINE by Brock Cole. It’s about a teen girl who’s an artist, and she has such a fascinating, visual, funny, vulnerable perspective on her world. I read this book until the spine split apart, and I still think about it constantly. It’s such a quiet book, but it’s stayed with me my whole life, and I can see kids of all ages and generations falling in love with it.

3. You can ask one question to any author, living or dead. What would you ask and why?

Everyone’s going to say J.K. Rowling, but J.K. Rowling! She is just such a fascinating person, writer, thinker. I am so consistently impressed with her talent, of course, but also with how she approaches fans, media, criticism, setback. I would ask her what she’s learned and how she’s grown by publishing books anonymously and her thoughts on building audiences and readership in an increasingly-competitive publishing world.

4. What’s the best (or your favorite) feedback you’ve received from a reader?

Oh man. My favorite feedback might be some of the earliest. When I was a kid in elementary school, I used to write sort of serialized horror-style stories (I was a big R.L. Stine fan). Every day after school, I would sit in the cafeteria writing page after page, and kids would line up down the table, reading every page as I wrote it. I can still remember how cool it was to see people reading—and loving—what I had written. Kids would track me down in the halls to find out how the story would end. It was the first time I saw readers connecting with my stories, and it was such a thrill. I think I’ve basically been chasing that high my whole career…

5. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve received from a teacher?

Well, I’ve been extremely lucky to have had great teachers, so thankfully this is a really hard question to answer! I will say that I sometimes got pressure from writing instructors that writing YA literature was not writing Real Literature. YA writers weren’t actual writers, and the idea was that anyone could just dash off a Twilight in their spare time and make a million dollars (to which I say: go ahead. Do it. I’ll wait.).

So even though I was interested in YA stories, I was encouraged to write more along the lines of “adult” fiction. I dutifully put aside my YA and tried it—and it made me miserable. I was writing stuff that felt dreary and dull and it sucked all the fun out of writing for a very long time. Finally I realized that hey, those writing classes might have been wrong about this, and I should just be writing what made me happy. It all worked out, but I wish I hadn’t wasted a few years trying to be the writer I’m not.

For more information about Kendall Kulper and her books:

Visit her online at: http://kendallkulper.com
Follow her on Twitter: @Kendall_Kulper

The Five Questions: Jen Brooks

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Ringler Associates

“Jane Austen: Would you please give me some feedback on my manuscript?”

Jen Brooks is the author of In A World Just Right and will be reading with me (and many other wonderful authors) at the Boston Teen Author Festival on Saturday, September 26th at the Cambridge Public Library. Here’s her take on The Five Questions:

1. What’s the surprising inspiration behind one (your choice) of the characters or stories you’ve created?

I don’t think it’s surprising to find that most things about Jonathan and Kylie, my main characters, are similar to me. Anyone who knows me personally has found reason to smile at the details I’ve chosen to include . . . like my love of chicken burritos. That said, much of the inspiration for the characters and setting comes from my time spent teaching.

2. If you could rescue one obscure book and make it more widely known to the world, which book would you choose and why?

I’m going to cheat and pick a book that is far from obscure, but I think deserves as much attention as it can get: Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays. It’s a fabulous time-travel, save-the-world story, with characters to make your heart beat faster and who have to make choices I would never want to have to make.

3. You can ask one question to any author, living or dead. What would you ask and why?

Jane Austen: Would you please give me some feedback on my manuscript? ☺

4. What’s the best (or your favorite) feedback you’ve received from a reader?

My “favorite” feedback has come from many readers. There is nothing as affirming as having a reader really get what my book is trying to say, really see Jonathan as a person not to be judged for the mistakes he makes, but empathized with for the things he has to face. Readers moved so much by Jonathan’s story that they admit crying are my special favorites.

5. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve received from a teacher?

Ha! I don’t remember ever specifically receiving bad writing advice. I’ve always considered my writing teachers as excellent. However, I do know that there are things I learned in school (like using “creative” dialogue tags instead of the invisible “said”) that I had to unlearn in graduate school.

For more information about Jen Brooks and her books:

Visit her online at: www.jenbrookswriter.com
Join her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jen-Brooks/204436282955580

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