Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Again, thanks so much for joining us at TeensReadToo.com!

Again, thanks so much for joining us at TeensReadToo.com!

Interview with Melissa Walker

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2010

Interview with Amy Wachspress



www.wozabooks.com

Let’s get some of the typical interview questions out of the way first. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

I have loved writing all my life. I’m not sure I can remember a time when I was not writing. That’s a long way back for me to remember. Once, when I was in fourth grade, I wrote a science fiction short story and read it aloud to the class. One poor girl in my class liked the story so much that she stole it from my desk. I was not that bothered, because I knew I could just write another story. But the teacher tore up the classroom looking for my story and finally found it. The principal was furious and wanted to punish the girl who stole my story; but I thanked the girl for the compliment. I could see she was a devoted fan!

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?

I have been working on several books at once over the past 25 years while I was raising my children. During that time I often sent letters to publishing companies and agents to see if someone would publish my book or find me a publisher. I have a whole file cabinet drawer full of rejection letters. Finally I decided to publish the book myself. My husband and I borrowed some money and started Woza Books. We started the company in June 2006 and by November I had 3,000 copies in print. So far everyone who reads it loves it. I was surprised at how hard it is to get the word out to people so they know about it. I have had a lot of support from my friends and family or I would not have been able to get this far. My advice to someone else would be “be persistent and work hard.”

Tell us a little bit about either your latest or upcoming release. If you could only tell your readers one thing about the story that had to convince us to buy the book, what would it be?

I have only one book out right now. It is The Call to Shakabaz. This is a story about four children and their pesky parrot who travel to the fantasy land of Faracadar on a quest to retrieve the powerful Staff of Shakabaz from the malevolent enchanter Sissrath.

The one thing I would tell you to convince you to buy the book is that it is a rollicking fun ride—I dare you to put the book down! I am working on a sequel right now, but do not have much time to invest in it because one of my adult novels was recently accepted for publication and I am working with my editors to get that one ready to go into production. Plus I have a few other books that I finished that need homes, so I’m sending out letters to publishers about those ones.

What, or who, has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?

There is no one person or thing that has inspired me. I sometimes say that I have learned everything important that I know about life from my children. I have read aloud to them and my stepsons for almost 30 years. A few of my favorite books are A Wrinkle in TimeThe House of Dies DrearEnder’s GameHoles,HomecomingThe BFGThe Ear The Eye and The ArmHalf Magic, the Narnia books, and of course Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling is about as good as it gets. In the dedication to The Call to Shakabaz, I honor the young people who marched to prevent and protest the War on Iraq in 2003. They were definitely an inspiration to me when I wrote The Call to Shakabaz.

Let’s hear about your family, who I’m sure are thrilled to have a published author among them!

I am married and I have three grown up children. Two of them have graduated from college already and the third is in college now. I also have two stepsons, who are in their 30s. I am Jewish and my husband is Black, so my children are multicultural. Our family has a bizarre sense of humor so we laugh a lot. My daughter is a writer, so we have a lot to talk about when it comes to publishing.

Now for some fun facts. What’s your greatest comfort food?

My favorite food is pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. I have been vegetarian for 35 years. I don’t eat anything that walks, flies, or swims. But I adore cheese. I think it’s very important for people to cut way back on eating meat to save the planet from climate change. If you don’t already know that the biggest reason for climate change is the food system, particularly beef and pork production, then you should learn about it. Our lives depend on knowing and changing our habits.

What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?

I shower, make a cup of decaf coffee, and pet my cats. Very boring.

If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?

We don’t have an attic or a basement so you would be surprised at how much I can cram into my closets.

Everyone asks the question about “if you could be a tree, which tree would you be?” so I want to know: If you could be a color, which color would it be, and why?

I would rather answer the tree question. I love trees, as you will see if you read The Call to Shakabaz, in which the trees are an important character. I lived in a forest for 17 years and when we moved closer to the nearest town a few years ago, I planted trees all over my yard. I could never choose my favorite. I love so many of them. Right now I’m especially in love with my Hawaiian Paulownia Trees. They grow really fast. It reminds me of the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors.

As for colors, when you read The Call to Shakabaz you will see how colorful everything is. Some of my favorite colors are bright green (symbolizes life), royal blue (it reminds me of the ocean and the sky), turquoise (because I look really good in turquoise), and burgundy (what a deep rich color).

Who is your favorite cartoon character? Which cartoon character is most like you?

I’m going to cheat and choose an anime character (which is not exactly a cartoon)—Princess Mononoke. I am fierce when it comes to protecting the environment and honoring the spirits of the forest.

If you could beam yourself to anywhere in the world (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), during any time in history, where and when would it be—and why?

That’s a terrific question. There are so many historical events I would have liked to participate in. I would have liked to march with Dr. King during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which ended on December 20, 1956. This month is the 50th anniversary of the successful conclusion of the Boycott. I would also have loved to help organize the Poor People’s March on Washington and to stand on the mall and hear Dr. King give his “I Have a Dream” speech.

So what’s your favorite type of music to listen to? Favorite musical artists? Do you listen to music while you’re writing?

I can’t listen to music while I’m writing. I need silence to concentrate. But my husband is a disc jockey on the radio and he plays R&B, Soul, Jazz, Blues, and Gospel. I love all that music. I also have a passion for old folk music, like The Weavers and Woody Guthrie. That shows you how old I am. I especially like political music with a message. Of contemporary artists, I like Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky. The first album I bought was The Beatles’ Abbey Road! I’m pretty old, huh?

Do you have any favorite T.V. shows? Movies you watch over and over again? What was the last movie you saw at the theater?

I don’t watch much TV. I have better things to do. Except for football. I do watch a lot of football. After LOST finished on TV, I started watching it from the beginning and got hooked, so I’ve seen every episode on Netflix. I learned a lot from the writers for that show. One of my favorite movies is Galaxy Quest. I could watch that movie a million times and it would still crack me up. Tony Salhoub is a riot—his expression when he starts kissing the alien is priceless. I don’t go to the movie theater anymore because it’s so expensive. I wait for everything to come out on DVD.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?

Figure out what you love to do that you are good at and pursue it with a passion.

One last question. What stories can we look forward to from you in the future?

I’m working on a sequel to The Call to Shakabaz, in which the whales are in danger of being killed off and aliens have invaded Faracadar. It will be a lot of fun and more complicated than the first book. So stay tuned.

Again, thanks so much for joining us at TeensReadToo.com!

Interview with Jordan Sonnenblick



www.jordansonnenblick.com

Let’s get some of the typical interview questions out of the way first. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

I always, always knew. Even before I could read or write, I wanted to be just like my maternal grandfather, who had written several books. Actually, he wrote high-school science textbooks, so I didn’t follow in his exact footsteps, but nonetheless, he was my inspiration. Later on, he also became the basis for the character of Solomon Lewis in my novel Notes from the Midnight Driver.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?

It was bumpy! My first book, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, was originally published by a teeny-tiny literary press, which proceeded to go out of business three days after the book came out. I spent a summer in total despair, but then through a bizarre series of coincidences, the mom of an editor at Scholastic bought a copy at my local bookstore, which was the only bookstore in the world that still carried it. She sent it to her daughter, and voila! Incidentally, I try really hard to support local indie bookstores, because if The Moravian Bookshop in Bethlehem, PA hadn’t supported me, I wouldn’t be giving this interview right now.

Tell us a little bit about either your latest or upcoming release. If you could only tell your readers one thing about the story that had to convince us to buy the book, what would it be?

My newest teen book, After Ever After, is a companion novel toDrums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. You should buy it because my mom liked it. Or at least, she told me she did.

What, or who, has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?

Real teenagers. I have never been able to write a book unless it was inspired by something goofy, bizarre, and/or tragic that happened to a real teen in my life.

Let’s hear about your family, who I’m sure are thrilled to have a published author among them!

You’d be surprised, actually. My 9-year-old daughter just told me the other day, “Everyone at school always says how lucky I am that my dad’s an author, but I tell them it’s actually pretty boring. You just sit around and type!”

Now for some fun facts. What’s your greatest comfort food?

Beef stew. Any kind of stew, really.

What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?

Bathroom. Coffee. Go online to check the Yankees score.

If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?

I dunno ... maybe the assortment of gory, dismembered corpses?

If not, then I’d think it would be the unique combination of my guitar collection and my piles of unfiled school-visit paperwork, press clippings, promotional materials, and assorted other author-junk.

Everyone asks the question about “if you could be a tree, which tree would you be?” so I want to know: If you could be a color, which color would it be, and why?

Blue. Because blue always comforts me.

Who is your favorite cartoon character?

The lady who makes the superhero costumes in The Incredibles.

Which cartoon character is most like you?

I’d like to say it’s some mighty superhero, but probably, I’m a cross between Charlie Brown and Bart Simpson.

If you could beam yourself to anywhere in the world (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), during any time in history, where and when would it be—and why?

Wherever my kids are. Because they’re my kids!

Hopefully, they would be in London at the time -- London is my favorite city in the world.

So what’s your favorite type of music to listen to? Favorite musical artists? Do you listen to music while you’re writing?

I listen to tons of different stuff, but my fave group is the Beatles. When I write, I choose some specific genre of instrumental music for each book, and don’t listen to anything else until the first draft is done. That way, all I have to do is crank up that music on iTunes, and I am instantly in writing mode. It’s kind of like hypnotizing myself.

Do you have any favorite T.V. shows? Movies you watch over and over again? What was the last movie you saw at the theater?

I don’t watch much TV, other than sports -- because my 12-year-old son is the absolute ruler of the remote control. As for movies, I am a huge fan of anything Pixar. The last movie I saw in the theater was The Karate Kid, which I loved.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?

Whatever else you do or don’t do, BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL not to make any babies until you and your partner are fully ready to raise and support a child together. Seriously, that’s the absolute biggest biggie.

One last question. What stories can we look forward to from you in the future?

My next teen novel, Shooting Eagles, will be published in 2012. It’s about a star high-school athlete who gets injured, can’t play anymore, and has to figure out a way to jump-start his life again.

Again, thanks so much for joining us at TeensReadToo.com!