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Interview: Holly Schindler

February 8th, 2014 (07:00 am)
happy

Current Mood: happy
Current Song: All This Time (The Pick-Me-Up Song) by Maria Mena

Holly Schindler's road to publication wasn't smooth. It took seven and a half years to sell her first book. She wrote the first draft of her first middle grade novel, THE JUNCTION OF LUCKY AND SUNSHINE, in 2005, after she hit what she calls "kind of a rough patch" in her pursuit of publication. "I had to ask myself what I was doing - if I was really going to keep at it," she told me.

Readers are glad that she did. Her first published work, the YA novel A Blue So Dark, was released in 2010. Then came another YA release, Playing Hurt. Holly describes her latest release, The Junction of Lucky and Sunshine, as a young girl’s journey toward becoming a folk artist: "Throughout the book, she has to stand up for her art. In some ways, I think the book is me making my own stand for my art, saying I wasn't going to back down from snagging a writing career."

She goes on to say: "And what words better describe a full-time writing gig than 'Lucky' and 'Sunshine?'"

In honor of her new book, which has been described as Beasts of the Southern Wild meets Because of Winn Dixie, Holly has set out on a blog tour. Lucky for me, she's stopping here at Bildungsroman today. Join us as we talk about writing, happiness, and - as Pam Beesly-Halpert of The Office would say - the beauty in ordinary things.

Little Willow: Just the title of the book makes me grin. What are some of your favorite words, words that make you smile when you hear them or say them?

Holly Schindler: Some of my favorite aspects of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY are the “Auggie-isms,” or turns of phrases that run throughout the book. Auggie has a unique, poetic view of the world, and that becomes clear in her language. I talk about it in this vlog.

The main characters of your book are Auggie and her Grampa Gus. How did you pick their names? Is it easy or difficult for you to name your characters?

There's actually a connection between Auggie's and Gus's names - I'd hate to spoil it for readers by saying exactly what it is. It's an aspect of the book that made me chuckle every time I reread it. I don't labor over my characters' names [now] quite as much as I did in the beginning of my career. I think that early on in their careers, many authors try to honor their completely unique main character with a unique-sounding name. Really, though, it’s not the name that makes a reader connect with a character - it's who that character is. But that’s how it is in real life, too, when you make a new friend!

Have you ever made a sculpture out of recycled materials, like Auggie and Gus do?

No sculptures, but I’ve been going to auctions since I was a little girl - first with my folks, and these days, with my brother, an antiques dealer. I've always loved the one-of-a-kind items that can be found in farm auctions -- stools made out of Coke crates, dresser boxes made out of barn wood, feedsack dresses. But as an antiques dealer, my brother often has to reinvent items he buys at auction that turn out to be less than he hoped, in order to turn a profit. Together, we've restrung broken jewelry, used yellowed book pages to create a door wreath, even turned a broken mandolin into wall art. I also love going to flea markets to find out how shop owners have reinvented broken items. One of my favorite recent finds is a necklace made out of an old salt shaker. I love the creativity it takes to reinvent old items.

I know you enjoy music, as I do, but do you like wind chimes?

Of course! Just as long as they're not near me when I'm trying to sleep. Music revs me rather than relaxes me, so I sometimes find it hard to sleep to the radio - I think wind chimes have the same effect!

You've written both drama and comedy, for kids and teens, stories about youth in very different situations. What, if anything, do you feel is the connective tissue or common thread(s) between your books?

I'd have to say realism. Whether it's a tragedy, a light moment, a love story, or a mystery, all my books are realistic fiction. That's not to say I don't love to read a good fantasy - or that I would never delve into that genre. But so far, they've all been realistic.

What can you tell me about your next novel, Feral?

Feral, my third YA novel, will be released by HarperCollins later this year. This will be my first psychological thriller. (Note: Holly invites anyone who wants to be a part of her next blog tour to email her at writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com)

Who or what helps you the most during revisions?

My mom's always been my first reader - and she reads along with me during mad-dash rewrite deadlines, which really keeps the whole process on track.

When you were little, you liked to write comments in the books you read. If you were to pick up a reader's well-worn copy of a book you wrote, what would you hope to find scribbled in the margins?

First, I'd just love the fact that the book was well-worn. But I'd also love to find passages that were marked just because the reader liked them. That's one of my favorite things to do on Goodreads - check out the passages and quotes that readers pulled from my books as favorite lines.

Holly also wanted to share this with readers:

I recently created a site specifically for young readers: Holly Schindler's Middles. I'm especially excited about this site. I adored getting to interact with the YA readership online - usually through Twitter or Facebook, but I had to create a site where I could interact with the MG readership. I'm devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves!

You can also visit Holly at hollyschindler.com

Check out THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY Trailer on YouTube.

The next stop on the tour will be My Favorite Pastime tomorrow, Sunday, February 9th.

I first interviewed Holly Schindler in 2010. The interview was included in the back of her book A Blue So Dark as a bonus feature. Click here to read the full-length interview!