Showing posts with label interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interview. Show all posts

September 03, 2014

Interview with Paint Me a Monster author Janie Baskin

Janie Baskin's acclaimed YA novel, Paint Me a Monster has just been released in softcover!  To commemorate the event, we have a Goodreads Giveaway going on right now (see the bottom of the post), and we interviewed Ms. Baskin about the writing of Paint Me a Monster and about being an author.  Check it out!

Scarlet Voyage: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Janie Baskin: Mrs. Burkham, my third grade teacher, had a class project—to make an anthology about the seasons. Each student needed to submit at least one poem; I submitted a dozen!  I loved poetry and Mother Goose nursery rhymes, and this was my chance to create my own.  After that, writing and drawing were some of my favorite playmates, though I didn’t formally write stories until high school.  Each letter I wrote home from summer camp (and I wrote every day) or a thank you note for a gift, turned out to be a little story. 
               Writing eventually took a back seat to illustrating and making art until my first illustrated book was published. Because I was interested in writing picture books, it seemed a natural progression to learn to write so I could both write and illustrate.

SV:  How did you begin your writing career?

JB: As I mentioned, I was a fine artist and illustrator who loved to write. Both fields require similar characteristics to succeed:  imagination, curiosity, attention to detail, and the willingness to work hard and be patient. After publishing as an illustrator, the challenge to become a skilled writer and author became the next rung to reach. I involved myself in a number of writing organizations, including a community writing program called Off Campus Writer’s  Workshop ( OCWW) and an independent critique group. The workshop introduced us to published authors who shared their expertise, and encouraged participants to write and submit their work for critique. Joining The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators offered an array of opportunities to learn more about writing and the book world.  At one of the OCWW meetings I heard that Vermont College offered an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. It was the only school in the country that offered such a specific degree. I sent in samples of my writing, got accepted and worked like crazy cakes to learn as much as my brain could hold.

SV: What inspired you to write Paint Me A Monster?

JB: Good question. What I had learned about writing is that you just have to write- you have to start somewhere even if that start later takes a turn in a totally different direction. My advisor told me to “write what you know, dig deep and don’t be afraid to get messy.”  I knew how fun and how hard it sometimes was to grow up in my family. I knew about life with a sister and brother, and I knew about going to an all girls’ school where completing homework assignments was like scaling Mt. Everest.

These kernels and my advisor’s push to “ keep digging deeper” inspired “Paint Me A Monster.”

SV: What is the one message you want readers to take away from Paint Me A Monster?

JB: It’s my hope that readers will turn the last page of Paint Me A Monster” with more compassion and understanding than they had when they turned the first page. If I could give my readers anything it would be the message that “you are not alone”, that life isn’t about “doing it yourself “.  It’s a collaborative effort; and because it is, what we think may be unworthy, or unable to change, can transform if we’re not afraid to ask for help.

SV: How did you go about researching and planning for writing Paint Me A Monster?

JB: Much of the book is based on reality and then fictionalized so the need for research was limited. When I came to something that needed to be researched, for example, what it is a high school counselor does, and how he might do it, I’d make a note that this information needed refining. This allowed me to continue writing without worrying about details. It’s easy to procrastinate during the writing process and not always so easy to return to the emotional and mental place a scene may require.

For smaller items like the kind of car that might have been driven in a specific year, research would have been immediate.
Sources for research included: reading the books my protagonist and her peers might have read, consulting with Chambers of Commerce for a variety of cities, speaking with professionals in health related fields, consulting books about issues such as eating disorders, and child abuse, reviewing my teaching and child development text books, and of course from thinking  a lot about personal experiences and sometimes reenacting them.

SV: Where there any particular obstacles you encountered while writing this book?

JB: There were no particular writing obstacles; however, getting the time line accurate was a challenge.  I did think about what effect the story might have on family members. I was concerned that people who know my family might erroneously assign truth to parts of the story.

SV: What is your typical day of writing like?

JB: Before I describe my routine, it’s important to say that much writing is done while I amble about. Perhaps I am taking a walk, driving, or reading for pleasure. I call this purposeful ambling. It’s the time ideas are generated, re-worked, and produce other ideas.
               I have two basic work scenarios. In the first, I wake up early, workout, return home, clean up (sometimes), eat something and write for about three hours. Then I break for lunch, look at e-mail, make calls that can’t wait, then go back to writing for three more hours.

The second scenario occurs when a brainstorm happens while I’m sleeping. I get up, write it down, and because I am so excited, often go into my studio and flesh out the concept. I write until there is no more to say at the time. Then I get up and start the day.

SV: What is your favorite YA book?

JB: The Once and Future King by T.H. White.  I first read this book when I was a freshman in high school and can still visualize Merlin, Wart (Arthur), Guenivere and the other unique characters in their full glory. This couldn’t happen if the writing and tale had not been so enchanting. The idea of growing younger and turning into a fish or bird in order to learn a lesson still astounds me. I still wish I could have Arthur’s experiences and a Merlin-like mentor.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Paint Me a Monster by Janie Baskin

Paint Me a Monster

by Janie Baskin

Giveaway ends September 21, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

August 11, 2014

Interview with author of The Briny Deep Mysteries trilogy

The new sci-fi/mystery trilogy, The Briny Deep Mysteries, is coming out September 1st, and it's going to be filled with twists and exciting turns that will keep middle graders reading!  To learn more about the writing of this exciting trilogy, we sat down with author Jennifer Torres:

Enslow Publishers: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Jennifer Torres: Since I was very young, I’ve always loved getting lost in a good book. Reading really fueled my imagination. I especially loved to read mysteries and stories about fantastical places. As I got older the idea of creating my own magical lands through writing was so exciting I just had to pursue it.

Enslow: How did you begin your writing career?

Torres: I began writing in journals as a child. My friends and I would also write scripts and plays and then share them with each other to review – and sometimes to act out.  After finishing school, I became a newspaper reporter and columnist. Over the years I worked as freelance journalist, writing for local and national magazines and newspapers. I’ve also written seven non-fiction children’s books, but THE BRINY DEEP MYSTERIES is my debut into middle grade fiction – and truly the kind of writing I’ve always wanted to do. 

Enslow: What inspired you to write “The Briny Deep” trilogy?

Torres: All the books I read growing up captured my imagination with incredible, edge of your seat stories that often involved secret passageways, doorways to other lands, or a compelling mystery seemingly beyond explanation. When I created the town of Briny Deep, I wanted to construct a place that had never existed before, populate it with a cast of amazing characters, and weave a spellbinding mystery that would engage and captivate readers in the same way I was as a child.

Enslow: Where there any particular obstacles you encountered while writing this book?

Torres: My ten year old was a bit of an obstacle because she wanted to use my laptop all the time to play her computer games. I tried to stick to an early morning schedule of writing – way before she woke up, so I didn’t have to wrestle her for it.

Enslow: When do you write best?

Torres: During the week, I like to get up early while it’s still dark outside and everyone else in the family is asleep. I brew a big cup of coffee and try to get a few hours of writing in. I feel most creative in the morning. But I also love to write when it’s raining outside or a storm is brewing. It really sets the mood for me.

Enslow:  If you weren’t a writer, what might you be doing instead?

Torres: I would be a detective or a private investigator.  I grew up wanting to solve mysteries. My childhood friend and I even opened our own “detective agency” – her dad built it for us in her backyard and we kept “files” on everyone in the neighborhood.

Enslow: What is your favorite children’s book?

Torres: I have so many books that I loved when I was growing up. My top three books would have to be; The Phantom Tollbooth, Harriet the Spy (she kept notes on everyone in her neighborhood too,) and A Wrinkle in Time.  Middle Grade books are my very favorite genre. The kind of books with secret passageways, time portals, and hidden paths to magical lands are the best.

Enslow: What kind of experience do you hope your readers have with “The Briny Deep” trilogy?

Torres: I want them to go on a thrilling ride, filled with fun twists and turns through the town of Briny Deep. As they read the series they should feel like they are on an adventure – and a quest for answers that keeps them excitedly reading until the wee hours of the morning, and leaves them with a true awareness of how much magic and wonder can be found inside a book.

Look for The Disappearing, The Return, and The Battle on, or with your favorite bookseller.