May 1st, 2007

Veronica Mars, Kristen Bell, knowing

Interview: Dia Calhoun

I am a readergirl! Are you?

The May issue of readergirlz is here! This month's spotlighted title is The Phoenix Dance by Dia Calhoun, which was chosen in honor of National Mental Health Month.

Do you love dragons, princesses, mystery, and magic? Are you a creative person? Do you admire a girl who can conquer her own demons? Have you ever felt sad one moment and happy the next? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this is the book for you!

Now let's find out the story behind the story. Dia Calhoun has graciously spoken to me at length about her novels and the inspiration behind them. Here now is the exclusive Bildungsroman interview.

Your experiences have provided the inspiration for many of your books, the majority of which are connected: ARIA OF THE SEA to THE PHOENIX DANCE, WHITE MIDNIGHT to FIREGOLD. Were they born out of necessity or inspiration or both? Had you planned on writing sequels and prequels?

I never envisioned writing sequels or prequels to FIREGOLD and ARIA OF THE SEA when I first began them. However, when I was nearly finished with FIREGOLD -- it took me five years to write as it was my first novel, and I was still learning how to write -- Jonathon's grandmother, Sephonie, had a vision in the firelight. She saw a girl scrubbing the floor, who looked up, frightened by something. That vision never made it into FIREGOLD, but it was the seed for the prequel, WHITE MIDNIGHT. That girl turned out to be Rose Chandler, and one of the chapters opens with her scrubbing the floor and being startled by Mr. Brae, the cruel master of Greengarden for whom Rose works.

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If you would like to chat with Dia, talk about The Phoenix Dance, or discuss mental illness and awareness, please drop by the readergirlz forum. Recent topics include Creative Fire, Highs and Lows, and Treated Badly. You may feel free to start new topics or comment within existing threads. Dia will respond to questions and comments at the forum until the end of May.

Read the May 2007 issue of readergirlz.

Make sure that you bookmark Dia's official website and the readergirlz website.

Lucy Woodward, happy

Interview: Laura Bowers

See that sign that reads BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT . . . fully equipped, inquire within? Stop in the shop. You'll be glad that you came. ( Read my book review. ) I highly recommend this book to teens and adults.

Today, while her debut novel hits bookstores, Laura Bowers visits Bildungsroman. We discuss family, second chances, and the true definition of success . . . as well as rude pigs, good music, and favorite books.

Which came first, the setting or the characters? Had you established the family storyline prior to selecting the beauty shop backdrop?

The setting came first, after I was inspired by a rusted sign that was posted in front of a charming old house. For years, I would pass this sign and wonder what the owner was like. Is she longing to retire? Is she cranky because no one wants to rent her old-fashioned beauty shop? I knew I had a story when I imagined what would happen if a young girl was left on the woman's doorstop and if someone was finally interested in her shop.

Others have likened your story to STEEL MAGNOLIAS, while I see it more like THE GOLDEN GIRLS (and their great-granddaughter). The multi-generational storyline makes this book as enticing to adults as it is to teens. Did you plan for this book to be categorized as teen fiction?

I always saw this as a young adult novel from the start, even though Granny Po and the rest of the Gray Widows are so dynamic. It's Abbey's story and her relationship with her mother that really pulled at my heartstrings and I felt the most compelled to tell. Collapse )

Visit Laura's website, where may read an an excerpt of Beauty Shop for Rent. Afterwards, drop by her LiveJournal and tell her Little Willow sent you!

Veronica Mars, Kristen Bell, knowing

Beauty Shop for Rent ...fully equipped, inquire within by Laura Bowers

Beauty Shop for Rent by Laura Bowers is fully equipped with quirky, memorable characters. Inquire within and you'll find a heartwarming story about a lovable teenage girl, her feisty great-grandmother, and the many people who love them.

The beauty is in the writing. The beauty is in the plotting. The beauty is in all of the characters, especially the protagonist. Readers will root for sweet, savvy Abbey, who is trying desperately not to follow in the tragic footsteps of the three generations of women before her.

As Abbey gives her deliquent mother a second chance - and a third, and a fourth - she runs the risk of losing all she's earned and challenging everything she knows about her family's history.

Step into this BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT for a good, clean read that will tickle your funny bone, massage your mind, and warm your heart. Highly recommended for teens and adults.

Behind the Scenes: Read my interview with the author, Laura Bowers.

Recommended Reading: If you loved Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti, then you will love Beauty Shop for Rent by Laura Bowers. If you read Beauty Shop first, follow it up with sweet Honey.

Show the Love: Please vote for this review!

Best Books of April 2007

April 2007: 42 books read

Picture Books
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Duck, Duck, Goose by Tad Hills

Fun Juvenile Fiction
Zibby Payne and the Drama Trauma by Alison Bell
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
True Talents by David Lubar

Notable Teen Fiction
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Beauty Shop for Rent by Laura Bowers
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
Total Constant Order by Crissa-Jean Chappell
Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell
Peace is a Four-Letter Word by Janet Nichols Lynch
The Taker by J.M. Steele
The Phoenix Dance by Dia Calhoun