YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for May 13, 2009

Interview with Julie Schumacher

Today we have the lovely Julie Schumacher here to share with us about her writing and some fandom facts. She has written several novels and her latest one, Black Box was released in August 2008.

Julie Schumacher grew up in Delaware and is the fifth of five daughters. Maybe because she was the youngest she became very skilled at stretching the truth at an early age. She has written two books for adults: The Body Is Water, a PEN/Hemingway finalist and ALA Notable Book of the Year, and An Explanation for Chaos, a collection of short stories. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and in Prize Stories: The O.Henry Awards anthologies.

Grass Angel was her first novel for younger readers, followed in the spring of 2005 by a second middle-grade novel, The Chain Letter. She is a Professor of English at the University of Minnesota/Twin Cities, and in her spare time plays tennis and lacrosse. She lives with her husband and two daughters in St. Paul.

How did you get the idea of writing Black Box?
I started writing Black Box because a number of people I knew were battling depression, and I started to ask myself what I or anyone else could possibly do to help them. I was struck by my own helplessness: that’s where the book — and Elena — began.

What is the best thing that has happened to you since you became a writer?

The best thing that happens to a writer is finding a publisher and a readership. There are other lovely and wonderful things that have happened to me — but that’s the best thing that has happened to me as a writer.

Where do you usually write?
I move around. For a while I’ll manage to write at home, but then suddenly the magic of my desk seems to expire and I need to find another spot. Sometimes a coffee shop will work for a while, sometimes a library. Sometimes I need to have absolute solitude and silence; at other times I need to have the chatter of strangers’ conversations in the background.

You have written several books. Which one was the hardest to write?
That’s hard to say. Does “hardest” mean “took the longest” or “took the most out of you”? I wrote Black Box fairly quickly, but writing it felt very difficult. My first novel took me about six years, but it didn’t feel quite so hard (or maybe that’s just nostalgia talking).

Was it a difficult process getting your first book published?
Getting a first book published is almost always difficult. You have to steel yourself for rejection. My first novel was rejected dozens of times. If you believe in your project, though, you don’t give up.

Are you currently working on anything?
Yes. Several things. One for young adults, one or two for adults. (I don’t see such a great difference between the two readerships, most of the time.)

What was the craziest thing you ever done while in high school?

I think I must have blocked that out of my memory. Once you become a parent to teenagers, your own high school years are erased from your mind.

What is one country you really want to visit?

What is your favorite beverage?

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I used to want to fly. I used to dream I could fly. But now I have a fear of heights, so I think I’d settle for a super-human memory, so I could memorize all the books I’ve read and loved.

Thanks Julie! Best of luck with your future novels. =D Details on how to win a lovely copy of Black Box will be posted on the site late tonight/tomorrow.

Gallagher Girl Chapter 14 book discussion

There might be spoilers! Be warned.

  1. Do you think wearing the painful black boots were worth it (as they give Cammie height) or is it not worth the pain?
  2. Guess why Cammie was speechless when she saw Josh? Too handsome? Wasn’t expecting him?
  3. Why do you think there was awkward silence? Do you think the reason Cammie is quiet is because she doesn’t want to reveal too much or accidentally talk in another language? What about Josh?
  4. Who do you think is more shy? Cammie or Josh?
  5. Why do you think Cammie blurted out Solomon? Do you think she has been thinking about him so it’s the first thing that came to her mind?
  6. Why do you think Macey knows so much about boys? Do you think she is the type of boy-crazy kind of girl?

On Tuesday Cecilia posted Chapter 13. On Friday Reyna will be posting the discussion for Chapter 15 and Katie with Chapter 16 on Saturday.