Saturday, May 28, 2011

Holly Schindler Interview

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I could read. I’m really serious—I was writing stories on my own by the time I was in the first grade. In the same way that some kids are just natural athletes, or natural pianists or natural speakers, I was just kind of a natural writer. It always FIT, in a way nothing else ever did.

2. How did the idea of A BLUE SO DARK come to you?
As A BLUE SO DARK opens, we find fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

…There wasn’t really an ah-ha! moment with this one. I just remember it coming to me in pieces, over the course of a couple of weeks. And I remember being in the YA non-fiction section of my library, reading everything I could on schizophrenia (I wanted to find out how schizophrenia had already been presented factually to a teenage audience). Once I had the idea in my head, I sat down to write.

The first draft of this book wrote extremely quickly—in about two months! I just really went for it, not censoring much of anything I put down. (I even took my glasses off to write the first draft—if I couldn’t SEE what I’d just written, I couldn’t second-guess it!) The book had to be revised globally about four times over the next couple of years (and the final draft was about 20,000 words longer than the first). But I think my no-holds-barred, uncensored first draft is responsible for Aura’s brutally honest voice.

3. Many authors have different publishing experiences. How was yours? Hard? Easy?

Hard, hard, hard. Concrete hard. I got my master’s in 2001. And because writing had always been this all-encompassing thing for me, my family let me stay at home and devote full-time effort to getting a writing career off the ground.

I figured that it’d take a year, year and a half to write a novel, and I’d sell it, and I’d be off and running. After all, I’d excelled in all things involving creative writing all through school. I was bound to be a writer. Right?

But the first deal didn’t come easy. I lost count of how many manuscripts I wrote and submitted over the course of seven and a half years. I inked the deal for A BLUE SO DARK in early 2009…

Hard as it was, and as many tears as were shed, I wouldn’t trade those years in the trenches for ANYTHING. No degree can teach you the same thing as years of struggle and hard work…

4. If you hadn’t become a writer, what would you have become?

Probably a literature professor. When I started college, the plan was to get a PhD in lit. After I got my master’s, though, I had to step away from school. All I wanted to do was WRITE. But the PhD’s definitely on the bucket list…

5. Will there be more books after A BLUE SO DARK? What should we expect?

PLAYING HURT is set to be released March 1, 2011! PLAYING HURT centers on two former athletes: Chelsea Keyes, a basketball star whose promising career has been catastrophically snipped short by a horrific accident on the court, and Clint Morgan, an ex-hockey player who gave up his much-loved sport following his own game-related tragedy.

Chelsea meets Clint (who’s working as a resort fishing guide) soon after arriving with her family for a summer vacation in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota. Sparks fly, igniting the pages, even though Chelsea has a boyfriend back home in Missouri…and even though Clint has sworn never to put himself in the position to be hurt emotionally again.

Their unlikely romance has the potential to heal their heartache and force Chelsea and Clint to realize just how timidly they’ve been living…but by playing hurt—entering into a romance with already-broken hearts—are they just setting themselves up for the kind of injury from which they could never recover?

…I also REALLY love working in different genres and styles. As soon as I finish a book in one style, I need to work in something else…which is what’s so fantastic about YA! It incorporates SOOO many different genres!

6. Can you relate to any of your characters that your have written? Are they based on real people?

The voice of Aura is really closest to the voice that just rattles around in my own head. But my characters are never based on real people. They’re always complete fiction.

A lot of my readers seem to WANT the characters in A BLUE SO DARK to be real people…I’ve often been asked if I grew up with a schizophrenic mother! (I didn’t—but Mom and I both laugh about the question…she was a psych major in college!)

Really, though, my characters don’t live anywhere but in my mind…And I can’t wait to introduce the world to my next cast of characters, which I’ll be able to do next March, when PLAYING HURT is released!

…I’d also like to invite everyone over to my blog ( to check out the official cover art of PLAYING HURT…I’ll be posting updates on PLAYING HURT as the novel nears publication, AND I’ve started a FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE at my blog—you send the prompts, I write the fiction. The writer of the best prompt gets a prize in time for the holidays!

Thanks so much for the wonderful interview Holly!

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