There is beauty all around us. I enjoy finding it in little things and unexpected places. So does author E.M. Crane, as evidenced by her debut novel, Skin Deep, and the following interview.
Did you set out to write a story about a friendship bridging the generation gap?
Not really, but it did turn out that way. I did set out to involve adults as interactive people, not just one-dimensional authority figures or missing persons. I think that's something that young adult readers are curious about -- the art of having relationships that aren't just age-peer relationships. For some it comes quite easily, and for others not so much.
The other thing I really set out to do was write a story about beauty. Beauty today is so entwined with media and money, that it seems to have lost its simplicity and elegance. Why isn't beauty a concept that can be owned and experienced by anyone and everyone? It's not just about people you see in magazines or movies. That's a very limited, and limiting, scope. To me, the most uninteresting form of beauty is the makeup-trendy-hair-and-clothes kind. But that's the kind I see all around me. I see incredible beauty in ordinary objects and events and people. It's so subtle, but taking the time to see that kind of beauty feels like you've participated in it. Nature. Expression. Architecture. Science. Fill in your own blank, don't wait for People magazine to do it for you. And if human physical beauty interests you, that's OK too. But recognize that's not the only kind. Explore the options of beauty. Somewhere in that personal exploration is the key to finding your life's passion. At least, that's how I see it. :)
Andrea Anderson was her name in all the drafts. I knew from the beginning, somehow, that I could do something with the repetition of the first three letters. I could use her name as a simple portent of something more to come: And And.
Which character's name came to you the most readily?
All of the names that came to me in draft one stayed through to the final revision -- the only person who didn't seem to have a name was Andrea's mother. She still doesn't.
Rumor has it that your husband's art is similar to Honora's art, and that there once was a sweet little (big) doggie named Zena. Who, then, inspired Andrea?
My husband is indeed an artist; Zena was indeed a 170 pound drooling Saint Bernard with a perfect monk's cap on her forehead. Andrea? She's probably a mix of myself, my friends, people I've met, people I've never met, and people I hope to meet someday.
Andrea often refers to events as Act 1, Act 2, etcetera. What prompted the theatre metaphors?
The theatre metaphors are in the beginning, when Andrea is in the audience of life, watching everyone else's life go by. Rarely is she given an opportunity to be anything more than a spectator. Then there is a reference to the Final Act, when Andrea thinks about her homeroom teacher killing himself. After that, Andrea's theatre references fade away -- basically because she's not a spectator anymore. She's living life. And the reader becomes the spectator of Andrea's life.
Do you have a garden of your own? What are your favorite flowers?
I do have gardens: a straight-up one for vegetables, and a second garden with herbs. I love pineapple mint and lavender. I'm not a fan of perfectly-ordered gardens; the more unkempt, the more rapturous.
When did you first learn of the Delacorte Award? When did you submit your manuscript, and how can readers submit theirs?
I learned about the Delacorte Award through internet research; I submitted it in December of 2005 and received word in spring 2006. There's information about the Delacorte and the Dell Yearling awards at http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/writingcontests/ and it includes all the submission guidelines. It's a great foot-in-the-door opportunity. I felt like I unwrapped the chocolate bar and found the golden ticket into Random House.
How are your works-in-progress progressing?
I'm earlobe deep in revisions for book three, and book two is with my editor. Both are contemporary YA. Ideas are brewing for book four, but I'm trying to ignore them so I can get through the editorial processes with the others.
What are your ten favorite novels?
In no particular order:
Fiddlehead by Ayn Rand
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Danny and the Dinosaur by Sid Hoff
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll