Today I’m happy to welcome Holly Schindler author of A Blue so Dark to Bart’s Bookshelf. Holly’s here to talk about her upcoming Young Adult novel.
A Blue so Dark is the authors debut novel, even so she’s already had another two novels accepted for publication, but rather than get ahead of ourselves lets let Holly tell us about herself and her book(s)!
Bart’sBooks: Hi there, Holly, welcome to Bart’s Bookshelf, can you tell us a little about yourself and your new novel, A Blue so Dark?
Holly Schindler: I’m an incurable book addict who decided, after obtaining a master’s degree, to devote myself full-time to my writing. Nearly eight years and half a dozen or so worn-out computer keyboards later, I sold my first book, a YA novel, to Flux.
In A Blue so Dark (due out May 1, published by Flux Books), Aura Ambrose is terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future. As the novel opens, we find Aura struggling 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…
Bart’sBooks: What inspired you to write A Blue so Dark?
Holly Schindler: I have a disease: metaphor-itis. Once I get started, I can string more metaphors together in a draft than I really know what to do with. It gets kind of goofy sometimes—three, four metaphors piled on top of each other to describe the smallest turn of events. I’ve also got What-if-osis. As in: what if I put these two characters together, or what if “x” happened to this person, or what if…I get ideas for novels all the time. I literally have STACKS of notebooks full of ideas for novels in my office.
…Creativity has always fascinated me. Where do ideas for novels and metaphors COME from? What’s the source? 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 she really gives readers something to chew on…
Bart’sBooks: Were there any fun surprises while writing the book? Plot deviations? Misbehaving characters? You know, the ones that decide they know better than the author what should happen next…
Holly Schindler: Once inspiration struck, I drafted the novel quickly—in just two months! I cleaned the text up and began to submit. But the number one critique I was getting from editors was that the book was too internal. So I had to insert scenes, put Aura out in the world to interact with characters other than her mother. Give her a life beyond being her mother’s caregiver and even beyond her art.
Aura became, as I rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote, a friend, a granddaughter, a student. She had a crush, fears, and a sense of humor. I don’t know that she misbehaved so much as she became clearer. It was kind of like going to the optometrist—first you can’t see a thing when you put your face against that giant black gadget and look at the eye chart, but after a few different lenses drop into place in front of your eyes, the details start to pop. The world comes into focus. That was what it was like fleshing out Aura’s character. (See what I mean about those metaphors?)
Bart’sBooks: Who, apart from Aura, is your favourite character? Tell us a little about them.
Holly Schindler: I’ve got a real soft spot for Aura’s grandmother. She’s a tough one—a real straight-shooter, no b.s. And she’s got kind of a wild history herself—I find her every bit if not more interesting than Aura’s mother. Yeah, I’d have coffee with Aura’s grandmother. Definitely.
Bart’sBooks: What was your reaction to seeing the cover for the first time?
Holly Schindler: Goose bumps. Deep gasp. Tingly scalp. The more I look at it, the more I love it. I honestly can’t imagine another image that more accurately depicts the emotional content of A Blue so Dark.
Bart’sBooks: You mention on your website about your constant note-taking, what other writing habits / processes do you have?
Holly Schindler: There’s something about a notebook and a pen. SO much kinder than a blinking cursor—especially when dealing with a rough draft. When drafting my novels, I have a tendency to flesh out characters, write passages, outlines, etc. on notebooks, in longhand, before I sit at my computer. Then I feel like I’m not starting from absolute ground zero.
Revisions are so MUCH more fun. And I’m not talking the cut-and-paste a few paragraphs kind of revision. I mean global revision, where chapters get axed, new characters invented, subplots invented. THAT’S the most exciting stage of writing a novel, because that’s when a book really starts to take shape.
Bart’sBooks: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time (besides writing and reading, of course)?
Holly Schindler: I’m a music junkie. I’ve loved metal to bluegrass and just about everything in-between. And I really don’t know what, in this world, is more thrilling than a well-crafted three-minute pop song. I’m exactly the same way I was as a teen about music. I find something I like, and I’m obsessed, playing the same tunes until everybody on my street knows the words.
Bart’sBooks: I understand you have another couple of books in the works, would you like to tell us about them?
Holly Schindler: You bet! Playing Hurt, my second YA novel (due out 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 (also due out in ’11) will be my first adult novel, and is 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…
Bart’sBooks: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your work?
Holly Schindler: While much of A Blue so Dark is finalized, Playing Hurt and Fifth Avenue Fidos are very much works in progress. Because they’re so new in development, anything can change—titles, release dates, and neither has a cover yet. I post exciting book developments all the time at my blog: hollyschindler.blogspot.com. I’ve adored getting a chance to know and interact with my followers, and always look forward to meeting new bloggers and YA fans!