November 7th, 2007

Lucy Woodward, happy

Interview: Maureen Johnson

Books. Intelligent humor. The Westing Game. The Great Gatsby. Freedom of speech. Cary Grant. Shiny objects. These are a few of Maureen Johnson's favorite things.

I share these interests. I also share Maureen's books with friends and customers on days that end in Y. When I had the opportunity to interview her, I took it. I ran with it. I jumped at the chance.

Then I stopped running and jumping, walked back home, wrapped my questions up into an oddly-shaped package, stuck a bow on top, and presented it to Maureen.

You've known since you were little that you wanted to be a writer. What was your first completed manuscript/novel as an adult?

Well, I wrote two books for practice. One was for a friend. The other lives in a drawer. They aren't for publication. They really were just exercises for me to try things out. I put myself through a kind of self-imposed writing boot camp when I graduated college, writing four to ten hours a day, usually when I was supposed to be doing something else. Like work.

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Many thanks to Maureen Johnson for talking with me.

This interview has been approved by Free Monkey.

Related Posts:
Author Spotlight: Maureen Johnson
The Bermudez Triangle: Too Cool for School?
Book Review: Girl at Sea
Book Review: Suite Scarlett
Free Monkey World Tour: Girl Meets Monkey
Free Monkey World Tour: Take Your Monkey to Work Day


Today's WBBT Schedule
Lisa Ann Sandell at Interactive Reader
Christopher Barzak at Chasing Ray
Julie Halpern at The Ya Ya Yas
Micol Ostow at Shaken & Stirred
Rick Yancey at Hip Writer Mama
Jane Yolen at Fuse Number 8
Shannon Hale at Bookshelves of Doom
Maureen Johnson at Bildungsroman
David Lubar at Writing & Ruminating
Sherman Alexie at Finding Wonderland

Lucy Woodward, happy

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

What do you find at sea? Fortune!

While I've never been at sea, I did have the good fortune to read Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson prior to its release. I immediately added it to my Best Books of 2007 list.

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Ready Now? Read It.

Landlubbers and sea lovers alike will enjoy taking a trip with this Girl At Sea. Maureen Johnson once again successfully blends comedy and drama to create an intriguing, realistic story.

The Girl in question is Clio, who wears her heart and her scars on her sleeve. When she was eleven years old, she and her father created a board game called Dive! that took off.

A few years later, so did her father.

Fast forward five years. Now a high school junior, Clio was gearing up to work at a cool art supply store when her father contacts her. He wants her to come with him on a ten-week trip to the Mediterranean, but he won't tell her exactly where or why they're going.

Reluctantly, she goes along, only to discover they aren't alone. She must bunk with a sassy Swedish-English girl named Elsa whose mother is assisting Clio's father with his research. Her father's best friend Martin and a college boy named Aidan are also on board. As Clio's travels take her farther from home, they may or may not bring her closer to her father - and to herself.

Clio is a remarkable character. She's artsy. She's feisty. She's cool, but she doesn't know it. (That may just make her cooler.) She knows what she likes but isn't quite sure what she wants. She has a boldness about her, yet she's not really impulsive. Clio has a backbone, and even when she's vulnerable, she fights to stand on her own two feet. Her unique streak is a mile wide and she's got a knack for witty comebacks. I absolutely love her voice. Johnson's distinctive writing style really makes Clio shine.

Undeniably entertaining, Girl at Sea will not only please Maureen Johnson's loyal readers but should also be appreciated by anyone searching for a witty narrative and a memorable journey.

Highly Quotable

I used white Post-It flags to mark my favorite passages in this book. They include but are not limited to:

Her audience was enjoying her story. Her misery did at least make for good conversation. - Page 88

"It's your turn to tell a story," she said. "We're the girls. This is our room. We get to say who has to tell the stories." - Elsa to Aidan, after Clio shares a story, Page 90

It was absolute knowledge of a variety she had never encountered before. - Page 184

Being given a shiny key is a temptation. Keys open things. - Page 207

Here was another occasion today when life seriously deviated from the movies. - Page 293


When I interviewed the author, she described Girl at Sea as "the first YA archeological mystery-screwball comedy." I couldn't have said it better myself. (FYI: I am a huge fan of the archeological screwball comedy film Bringing Up Baby, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, George, and Nissa.)

Related Posts:
My interview with Maureen Johnson
The Bermudez Triangle: Too Cool for School?
Free Monkey World Tour: Girl Meets Monkey
Free Monkey World Tour: Take Your Monkey to Work Day