TBF 2010 is so close I can taste it. I’m freaking out the slightest bit because I still have some books to finish before the Festival arrives. Left on my list? Coe Booth, Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges, Marissa Doyle, James Kennedy, A.S. King, Daniel Kirk, and Alisa Libby. How will I do it? That, readers, is a wonderful question. The best answer I have so far is that I will probably not sleep for at least four days leading up to the Festival …
Anyway, have no fear because (a) I WILL complete my reading list and (b) today I have an interview with Sarah Ockler to share with you!
C:“Twenty Boy Summer” is your first published novel. Is it the first novel that you ever wrote?
SO: Well, I wrote a knock-off of the movie E.T. when I was six, but that one didn't go beyond the first grade class, where I was invited to read it to everyone at the school library. :-) So yes, Twenty Boy Summer is the first actual novel I wrote. I don't have any secret novels collecting dust under my bed, but I do have a lot of atrocious early drafts of TBS that will never ever see the light of day!
C: Did you always know that you wanted to be an author? When did you know that you wanted to write for teens (and teens at heart!)?
SO: I started writing stories and poems back when I was still losing teeth and wearing tank tops without a bra. As for wanting to be an author, sure, that was always the dream – but it was just that. A dream like becoming a princess without royal ties or an astronaut without NASA training. Still, I couldn't help but write, and several years after college, I finally did something about it – I signed up for a personal essay class with Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. The instructor thought one of my pieces -- a story about some "trouble" my BFF and I got into when we were 15 -- had a strong young adult voice and asked if I'd ever thought about writing YA. At that point, I hadn't, but it sounded fun so I signed up for the YA class the following semester. There, I was introduced to the works of Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderon, Deb Caletti, and other contemporary YA authors, and from that very first class, it was like the sunlight beamed down on me (yeah, with the chorus of angels and everything), like, heyyyyyy! This is it! This is what you're supposed to be doing with your life! I didn’t think it was possible to become a "real" author until I was in the midst of completing TWENTY BOY SUMMER, and my husband helped me see the truth: that I am a writer, and that becoming an author is my dream, and the only one who can stop me from achieving it is me. Once I got to that point, I dropped the MBA I was working on, focused on finishing the book, and then the universe kind of lined up for me. It was such a whirlwind.... sometimes I still wonder if I'm dreaming! :-)
C: I’m always interested in the relationships between characters and their parallels to authors’ “real lives.” Is Anna’s relationship with Frankie and Matt based on a relationship that you have or have had with friends?
SO: Not specifically, but if I had ten bucks for every friend who insists the story is about her or her brother or him or someone else we know, I could retire. Seriously. :-) But... while the relationships in Twenty Boy Summer don't parallel any in my own life, when I'm writing, I do draw on certain *elements* of relationships from my life. For me, that's what makes writing authentic. When authors truly remember what it was like with our own teen best friends, first loves, those ups and downs, that summer vacation second chance, those fights and makeups, all that emotion... that shines through the characters and makes them real. I guess I should take it as a good sign that so many people from my past think it's about them! :-)
C: What five books are on your list of “Favorite Books Ever?”
SO: "Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger, "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, "Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta, "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, and "The Diary of Anais Nin" by Anais Nin.
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
SO: This question is pretty close to impossible to answer because there are so many wonderful authors attending, and I can't wait to meet all of them! But if I have to pick just one... Laurie Halse Anderson. SPEAK was one of the first YA books I read when I started exploring the idea of writing for teens in that YA class at Lighthouse, and it always stayed with me. I hope to thank her in person.
Thanks so much for the great answers, Sarah! Only 17 more days until we all get to meet you in person!