~ In Crazy Beautiful, one of the main characters Lucius has hooks instead of hands. One questions I'm sure a few of us are wondering is, why hooks? (LOVE the idea, but just curious.)
Because in his world they make him visually unique. In his school, Lucius is the only one who has hooks, making others' perception of him be that he's like no one else.
~ Aurora, your heroine, is sensitive to Lucius' feelings throughout the book, while the rest of her classmates either treat him badly or avoid him entirely. This is a good example of how people who are different can be treated in schools/ society today. Do you have any thoughts on why that might be a standered reaction in schools today?
I don't think it's always an evil thing, but humans can't help but notice the physical appearance of others: skin color, size, gender, disabilities. They're all salient features and humans immediately assume certain things about others based on those first physical impressions. It's what we do with that information after the first impression that counts. Do we react as Aurora does, with a generosity of spirit? Or do we let ourselves be guided by fear based on rumors, as almost everyone else in the book does? It would be Utopia if people were always judged by their actions and not by their looks, but it's impossible to ignore that the first thing we encounter is another person's looks.
~ Aurora is also very close with her father in the book since her mothers death, and Lucius in his own way has had to deal with loss as well, so it definitely seems to be a central theme of the book. Is there an experience/s in your life that you used to help you get into to mode of writing from these character's perspectives, dealing with all that?
I'm not my characters, meaning I've never been as intriguingly complex as Lucius or as purely good as Aurora, but like most human beings I've suffered my share of losses: pets, friends, relatives, relationships. Elizabeth Bishop has a great poem called "One Art" about losing tings in which she claims to have lost a continent once. I don't think I've ever lost a whole continent! But I've certainly lost plenty.
~ During my reading of the books I had a hard time visualising Lucius doing a lot of the everyday things he had learned how to do with his hooks for some reason. Do you have a clear mental picture of what it's like for Lucius going through everyday tasks with hooks?
You know, it's not necessarily a bad thing that you had a hard time visualizing those things. I think the challenge of a character like Lucius is that it takes work to picture what he must go through just to accomplish the simple tasks you and I take for granted. It's a little easier for me to form those mental pictures since I used to shoot pool with a guy who had hooks for hands - very different situation than Lucius in that he'd lost his hands in a train accident. He was one of the best pool shooters I ever shot with, which is where Lucius gets his authentially mad skills at the game. I also have strong visuals of seeing my friend do basic things like put on a jacket, hoist a glass of beer and light his own cigarettes with a small lighter. At least Lucius is smart enough not to smoke.
~ While Aurora's problems have brought her closer to her father, Lucius' problems seems to have pulled his family apart altogether. Do you think it was just the difference of situation that made things work out that way or something else?
I think it absolutely comes down to circumstance. Aurora and her father suffered a natural loss, even if it was brought about by disease. Lucius's loss, on the other hand, without getting into spoilers, is the fault of his own actions. And not only did Lucius lose his hands but his family also lost their house and felt the need to move to a new town. So while Aurora and her father may blame the unkind Fates for the loss of Mrs. Belle, Lucius and his family pretty much focus all their blame on Lucius.
~ Let's talk the first story you ever wrote; did you ever finish/ give up on it? Try/ plan to publish it? Show it to anyone else?
If you mean the first short story I remember writing, that would be something I wrote when I was 12. My English teacher read it to the class three days running and it was the first time it occurred to me that people might be interested in what I wrote. If you mean my first novel, that was in 1994 and was a comedic mystery. I did try to get it published, and even had an agent for it, but alas and alack, that one has yet to see the published light of day.
~ The first time you thought seriously about becoming a writer you were....:
Twelve, then thirty-two.
~ Describe your writing process in 3 words:
Write, write, write. I'm compulsive that way.
~ Finish this sentence, "Aspiring writers should...":
Read, read, read - you can't be a good writer if you're not a good reader.
~ "Before I wanted to be a writer......."-- You wanted to be....?
A psychologist or a vocalist, but my family laughed when I suggested the latter, so I went for the former.
~ Has there ever been a point in your writing where you got seriously stuck and considered quiting?
I've never gotten stuck on the writing and the writing has never made me want to quit - I love that part! - but the publishing aspect can sometimes get a person down. It took me eight years to get published and I'm glad now that I never quit.
~ Does music Influence your writing?
Almost never. I wrote the adult novel VERTIGO while listening to the original soundtrack from The Piano but mostly I labor in silence. Well, except for 3-4pm on weekdays when I turn General Hospital on in the background.
~ What are your favorite books of '09 so far/ to come?
My favorite YA novels of what I've read so far this year are: Freeze Frame, Heidi Ayarbe; Impossible, Nancy Werlin; What I Saw & How I Lied, Judy Blundell; Graceling, Kristin Cashore, Evermore, Alyson Noel; Fade. Lisa McMann; Dust of 100 Dogs; A.S. King, Right Behind You, Gail Giles. I'm look forward to any books coming out by my sisters over at Teen Fiction Cafe - http://teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com/ - and many more.
~ What's next for you?
A lot! In addition to CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, which comes out in September, I have four more books coming out in 2010:
THE EDUCATION OF BET in spring 2010, about a 16-year-old girl in Victorian England who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education.
The next two books in THE SISTERS 8 series for young readers which I write with my novelist husband Greg Logsted - www.greglogsted.com - and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie: MARCIA'S MADNESS (April) and PETAL'S PROBLEMS (Sept).
THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER in fall 2010, about a Victorian girl whose life is changed forever when she learns her society mother has an identical twin who was raised in a workhouse.
Thanks so much for having me!
Thank YOU Lauren!
And on to the contest, I'll be giving away my ARC of Crazy Beautiful to a USA entrant who comments on this post! I'll be pulling them out of a bag (hat, stirafoam cup, something!) so enter as many times as you want!
And if you get a friend to enter I'll take on an extra 2 entries for you. Sound fun?! I'll be posting a winner next Sunday with my In My Mailbox post, so you have until Saterday to enter. Enter awaaayyyy!