And we’re back after a brief hiatus with a brand new feature called “What’s the 5-1-1?” In this new interview feature we will alternate between authors and librarians and technology visionaries asking them five somewhat serious questions, followed by one nice and frivolous fun question, and then giving the subject the chance to shoot a question back at this interviewer and/or his students!
I chose to begin with author Skylar Dorset for several reasons. First of all as I will share in a moment, my mechanism of connecting of her book was a bit unusual for me, while secondly as we are both Boston area college graduates and I was planning a trip to Boston shortly, it just seemed kismet. Of course the fact that Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, noted publisher of many excellent volumes including hers was exceptionally nice in connecting us did not hurt.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a middle school library media specialist who absolutely loves books! I have been involved with Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award committee for nearly 10 years, currently serving as a scout and future selections coordinator and in that capacity I am always discovering amazing reads. This book however I can squarely tie into one recommender, my 8 year old son!
While my son does love to read, this was a little bit mature for his tastes. However one day I was wandering with him through our favorite local Barnes and Nobles bookstore in Carrollwood, and just browsing the shelves in the Young Adult section. I see him stop and just stare at one shelf. When I go over to see what has his attention, he grabs a copy of “The Girl Who Never Was”, Skylar’s debut, and thrusts it in my face. “Daddy, you should read this next!”
I read the back and see the word “faerie”, not usually my wheelhouse, but he is insistent. Something tells me I should at least give it the 50 page test.
Suffice it to say I finished the whole book and eagerly awaited the sequel. I will be coming back to you next Friday with a review of the series, but here without further ado is the very first episode of the 5-1-1!
Question 1: As a Boston University graduate, the T was a very important part of my life. What gave you the idea of giving the T such an important role in your story?
Skylar: The fact that when I was living in Boston, I spent so much of my life on it! I used to use the Green Line to commute into work every day (I later moved to a place on the Red Line, but as anyone who has lived in Boston knows, it’s the Green Line experiences that really stick with you the most…) [I would definitely agree Skylar!] and I would frequently be stuck underground thinking, “…WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?” And then I would get out my BlackBerry (I know, that’s how long ago this all was) and I would start typing stories to myself. Because I did so much typing while stuck on the subway, the subway really entwined itself with the story!
Question 2: As a newer novelist, do you feel like you have found a niche writing this type of book, or do you think you will spread your wings and try something very different next time? What would be your dream type of book to create?
Skylar: I do like writing young adult and writing fantasy. I’ve had a great time working on young adult fantasy stuff and I’m still working on young adult fantasy stuff now. But I don’t know that I will write young adult fantasy for the rest of my life. I’ve written adult stuff in the past, and I just finished up my first middle grade novel, actually. And, believe it or not, this was my first attempt at writing fantasy. In the past I’d written more realistic fiction.
I would love to try my hand at magical realism at some point. Just…coming up with a world where nobody even blinks at goblins on the T, instead of being shocked by it. That sort of thing. [As someone who lived 4 years on the Green Line, I think that world may already exist, Skylar:)]
Question 3: Your book is one of a few which did not contain a romantic triangle in the main characters. Was there ever any pressure to add that kind of a story-line or did you feel support in your choice?
Skylar: No, no pressure at all. I felt very supported in where I wanted the story to go and how I wanted it to develop. I really didn’t want a triangle, because I felt like I could tell a story with conflict that came from within the couple, and I think I accomplished that! [No argument here!]
Question 4: In these days of social media, how important do you see outreach to teachers, librarians and readers from the author? Is yours driven by your own tastes, or do you feel like this is something necessary to survive in these social-media saturated times?
Skylar: I think it is super-important, if only because I remember how awed I was the couple of times I met an author, and what an impression it made on me. I think it’s important to make personal connections, to be able to exchange words with people and sometimes look them in the eye and just have conversations.
That said, I think social media is amazing because now you can go and connect with your favorite author even if your favorite author is never going to come within a thousand miles of you. And I get to chat easily with readers from around the world. I love that, I feel like it’s given me so much more contact than I could ever have hoped to have before social media.
So it’s all a delicate balance!
Question 5: Cliched as it may sound, what advice do you give to beginning authors toying with their first novel, or with an interest in writing for a middle grade or young adult audience?
Skylar: My advice is just as clichéd, I think, which is to write what you love. If you love it, the love will leak through onto the page and we’ll all feel it. Your writing should make you happy!
Question 6 [AKA the Bonus Question]: Would you rather be trapped on the Red or Green T-line for a couple hours ride in real life, and why?
Skylar: Ha! This is a good question, but I’ll go with the Red Line because it has fewer stops so I’m less likely to be motion-sick during the whole experience! [True and you might even get a comfortable seat as opposed to subway-surfing the Green!]
Question 7 from Skylar [The Tables are Turned… uh oh!]: Tomorrow you wake up with a superpower. What do you want it to be and why?
Newhouse: This was a terrific question and I spent almost a week considering my answer. I first got the question right in the midst of dealing with the loss of a grandparent which may have colored my response. All the usual suspects came to mind, flight [Nyah. Motion sickness would probably ensue!]; invisibility [Nope! I’d probably be drafted into the service of national security, so not for me!]; the power to end death [Sadly this would cause more problems than it would end.]; all kinds of cool powers… none was working for me just now.
Then I thought about one of my favorite shows Doctor Who… yes! I would like the power to travel instantly anywhere in time and space! I imagined the idea of meeting the historical figures who had changed our society and even bringing students on a field trip or bringing them into our time. I would love the power of the Tardis. Closer to home the notion that I could introduce my children to my departed grandparents… wow! Of course there would need to be the added imperative that whatever was changed would not affect our timeline… hello Butterfly Effect!
So there it is, magical powers genie, please grant me the power to travel with people safely and instantly in time and space without changing my own timeline. Piece of cake!
Hopefully you enjoyed this edition of the 5-1-1! Please leave comments below or contact me if you have questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions or want to be a spotlight guest on a future edition! Thank you to Kathryn Lynch, publicist at Sourcebooks, and of course to the amazing Skylar Dorset! The duology of The Girl Who Never Was and The Boy with the Hidden Name will be reviewed next Friday, along with a few other reading suggestions, and assorted tidbits!
Have a wonderful week! This is Newhouse the Librarian signing off!
(images courtesy of Wikipedia and Sourcebooks)