TBF is getting so close that I’m posting two interviews today so that I can fit them all in before the Festival arrives! Here’s my interview with the awesome Coe Booth …
C: I’ve read that you worked with teens in crisis after college and that this job had some role in inspiring you to write “Tyrell.” What do you feel that books like “Tyrell” and “Kendra,” books about teens in tough situations, can give to their readers?
CB: The teens I worked with were living in chaotic homes with parents who were often addicted to alcohol or drugs, where domestic violence and child abuse were common. Working with them made me see the reality of what a lot of teens face every day and just how resilient most of them are. I wrote “Tyrell” and “Kendra” because I hoped teens would be able to see themselves in these novels, that they would feel an emotional connection to the characters, whether or not they are living in a similar situation. While I want to provide a glimpse into a world a lot of people are not familiar with, my goal is to make my books relatable to everyone.
C: What was your journey to becoming a published author like?
CB: Well, considering I wrote my first novel in second grade, this journey has been very long -- long and winding! Even though I always wanted to write, it took me a long time (and a couple of careers!) to take myself seriously. And when I did, I decided to go back to school for an MFA in creative writing. I began writing “Tyrell” in that program, and I was fortunate to have David Levithan as my thesis advisor. He helped me finish it and then later acquired it for Scholastic. After that, everything seemed to happen so fast!
C: If you weren’t an author, what would you be? (Feel free to answer with your alternative dream job or your backup plan!)
CB: My dream job would still involve writing. Yes, I’ve always secretly wanted to write for the soap operas! How much fun would that be? But if I had to choose a non-writing alternative job, I would probably be doing what I did before I got published, teaching English and psychology at a college. I really loved teaching, and it’s something I really miss.
C: What books are on your list of “Top 5 Favorite Books Ever?”
CB: Oh, it’s so hard to pick just five! But if I must, I’ll choose the books I seem to read over and over. And they are (in no particular order): “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, “The Sound And The Fury” by William Faulkner, “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, “Of Mice And Men” by John Steinbeck, and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig.
C: What authors are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
CB: I’m already friends with a lot of the authors who are coming, and (of course) I’m looking forward to seeing them again. But I can’t wait to meet some of the authors I’m only friends with on Facebook and Twitter even though I feel like I know them so well already. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
You’re right, Coe – it’s definitely going to be a fun day! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these interview questions for us … we loved reading the answers.