Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interview with Holly Schindler!!

So, I just wanted to say thank you to the many people who were so
nice yesterday. It was really great of you guys. :)
And now, as a lovely treat, I have an interview to present to you from Holly Schindler! Yay!!!
This is her website. This is her blog. And this is my personal bit.
I was very nervous actually contacting someone about an interview. I mean, the blog is small, and I'm a teenage girl. Why would you care, right? Well, she did it anyway. She was really, really nice over email. I kept feeling like a huge dork--smiley face itis took over my writing skills--but she was great. I never expected such thorough answers!! When A Blue So Dark comes out, I am buying . . . oh, eight or so copies. Of course, the cover alone would have required one . . .

Without further ado. . .

Describe your book in a nutshell, please.

Here’s a quick synopsis of my debut, A BLUE SO DARK: Terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future, sixteen-year-old Aura Ambrose struggles with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.

As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her own imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.

Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process.

…As a side-note, though, I have to say that when Crissa-Jean Chappell (author of TOTAL CONSTANT ORDER) sent a blurb for A BLUE SO DARK, I was really proud that she used the word “funny” to describe the book’s voice. I think that really proves that I managed to fully round-out Aura’s character. I mean, if we see bits of her humor in a book that deals with such a serious subject, then we’re seeing the full picture of Aura’s life…she’s more than just an artist or the daughter of a schizophrenic. She’s her own person.

How did you get the idea?

Oh, I get ideas…more than I know what to do with. It’s truly a disease: What-if-osis. I literally have STACKS of notebooks in my office that are filled with ideas for novels. Really, creativity has always fascinated me. Where do those ideas for novels COME from? What’s the source? And how do you balance creative ideas—allow just enough in to stay productive, but cut off the others when they start to become a distraction?

Essentially, for Aura, creativity and madness are inextricably linked. And there’s no denying that many of our great artists have been mad, so her fears really give readers something to chew on…

Was getting an agent difficult?

I actually sold all three of the books I currently have in development myself. But I think that’s really exciting and encouraging. It just goes to show you really CAN go from slush pile to publication…

Did you ever feel like it wasn’t ever going to happen?

Okay. Here’s the deal: I got my master’s degree in ’01, and I decided to devote myself full-time to my writing. And as three unpublished years turned into four…five…six…SEVEN, I definitely had moments of frustration. At times, I could swear I was wearing a flat spot in my head from banging it against the wall…BUT: I never thought it wasn’t going to happen. I always felt like I was getting just a LITTLE bit closer to publication. Rejections stopped coming quite as quickly…or I’d get rejections indicating what a close call it had been. I also had a few phone calls regarding A BLUE SO DARK before it found it’s final home, so I knew interest in the premise was pretty high…I just had to get that final manuscript in saleable condition.

I have to admit, I did have a few nightmares of being about ninety-seven years old when I got that first acceptance, though…

How strong is an author’s relationship with their editor?

You actually work with several editors as a book is in development…it’s proofed by several different sets of “eyes.” But Brian, the acquisitions editor at Flux, is kind of my main editor…the one who sends me global revision suggestions before any of the proofing is done. I really can’t say enough good things about him. He’s been absolutely fantastic. I completely trust him…COMPLETELY. He sent the revision notes for PLAYING HURT (my sophomore novel, due out from Flux in '11) just before New Year’s. They’re so smart, so right-on…He also worked in publicity at Flux before becoming the acquisitions editor, so I’ve been able to ask him all SORTS of questions about the book development process…and I’ve had plenty. (Sometimes, I feel a little like somebody’s four-year-old with all my questions…) Anyway, I think I speak for all the authors at Flux when I say we’re lucky to have him…

What say did you have in picking your awesomely beautiful cover?

I was asked for some input early on…I showed Brian some covers that I found intriguing, but in the end, the image was chosen and the cover designed by Ellen Dahl at Flux. And I agree—awesomely beautiful. I think I could search images from now until the end of TIME and never find a more appropriate or stunning cover.

How much of an impact has getting a book published had on your everyday life?

Well, since the book isn’t on the shelf yet…not TOO incredibly much…One way it’s changed is that before the acquisition, I didn’t have a thing up online…no website, blog, social networking. So now, a little bit of every day is devoted to online work. (Just before Christmas, I’d contact bloggers, and they were still responding, “Your book sounds cool. Thanks for telling me about it. I’ll have to check it out.” Now, I get messages saying, “I’ve already heard about your book, and am looking forward to reading it,” which makes me want to do the happy dance. Already heard about it! Yay! Word’s getting out…)

How many revisions did you have to go through before the final version?

Ooooh. I lost count. The book had at least four different TITLES before it was acquired, and I did change the title every time significant changes occurred, but I revised in-between title changes, too.

Basically, I was teaching piano and guitar lessons as I was trying to get my writing career off the ground…my students were primarily teens and tweens. And I loved interacting with them…my favorite parts of the lessons were when my students would just talk to me—about their friends, teachers…it just hit me how similar they sounded to the kids I went to school with. So I mined my old high school journals and notebooks…when I saw how similar my OWN teenage voice sounded to my nearly thirty-year-old voice, I was off and running. Drafted that first manuscript in just a couple of months! (I even included a few of the poems I wrote as a teen…but I tweaked them to fit the events of the novel.)

…Of course, as soon as I began to submit that first draft, the rejections started pouring in, and I started rewriting…and rewriting…and rewriting. I penned the first draft late in 2006. The offer from Flux came in January of ’09.

What other stories are you working on?

Two more of my novels have already been acquired: PLAYING HURT, my second YA novel (due out, as I said, from Flux in ’11), follows the flowering of an intense summer romance between two former athletes who have both endured game-related career-ending tragedies. But by playing hurt—entering into a love match with already-broken hearts—are they just setting themselves up for the kind of injury from which they could never recover?

FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS (due out from Blooming Tree Press in ’11) will be my first adult novel, and it’s definitely the lightest book in the bunch. This romantic comedy offers laugh-out-loud humor, quirky, lovable characters, and is a kind of fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land…

What’s the journey been like from writing to almost on the shelves?

I think everybody’s got this preconceived notion that writers are all introverted, shy people…and, okay, I don’t really break that mold. But I’ve learned this year there’s absolutely nothing shy about writing. Once my book was acquired, I had to get out there online and do some preliminary promotions…and it also hit me for the first time this year that writers let the entire world into their heads, in a way that a lot of performing artists don’t. Singers don’t (unless they write their own songs)…actors don’t…But instead of scaring me, as I’ve gotten closer to publication, I find it really exciting. I mean, A BLUE SO DARK is ME, first line to closing sentence…as an introverted person, I’ve certainly never shared so much of myself with so many people. It’s pretty cool, when you think about it…

I also want to let everyone know that I am in LOVE with the book blogging community. And I’m constantly posting updates on my blog: Come on over—or better yet, follow…I absolutely can’t WAIT to see A BLUE SO DARK on the shelves…or in readers’ hands…

Thank you Holly! This was really amazing. It's so cool to me that you've done so much without even an agent, and your books sound amazing. Dogs instead of dragons? That book will be in my hands as soon as it's out.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

(See. Told you. Smily-itis.)
I don't even care.
Thank you again!


Kendrabelle Logan said...

This is so cool!


Maggie said...

(!!!) Exciting (!!!) :D

I really can't wait for this book. Cannot wait.
*happy sigh*

Holly Schindler said...

Thanks for the interview, Sam! It's so exciting to talk to local readers about A BLUE SO DARK!

Hilary Wagner ~ Writer said...


Your questions were great! I officially have this book on my radar now and I LOVE the cover!

xoxo -- Hilary

Sam said...

Kendra: Isn't it?! I was so excited!!
Maggie: I know, me too! We're going to both devour it.
Holly: Thank you so much for doing this. You really didn't have to, and you went above and beyond. I couldn't be more grateful.
Hilary: God, isn't the cover just fantastic? It's so pretty. And thanks about the questions--I was trying to ask stuff I know gets brushed over sometimes. I can't wait for your books either--I've read so many of your excerpts, and it looks so amazing. :)

Jennifer said...

jeez, that's so cool! that book loooks amaaaazing. Ooh, and the website is pretty too. :DDDD
(hah. smiley-itis!)

Anonymous said...


First of all, what a great website. Congratulations and kudos!

Secondly, wear your hillbilly heritage as a badge of honor. There is much good about Midwestern values that will serve you well - of course with the religious crap stripped away.

So keep doing what you are doing. You go girl!

Richard in Colorado

cipherqueen said...

Awesome interview! Kudos to both of you!