The Book Pixie: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Holly Schindler: I’m a writer who has been, well, writing since, oh—shortly after birth. After college, I decided to nix the idea of a full-time job in favor of pursuing a writing career. It didn’t come easy—or quick! Had to wear out about six different computer keyboards and work for more than seven years to get the first yes. But it did come...I am thrilled, thrilled, THRILLED to be releasing my debut novel, A BLUE SO DARK, with Flux on May 1!
TBP: Please give us a brief description of your book.
HS: Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been 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 in 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.
TBP: What inspired the idea for A BLUE SO DARK?
HS: I have a disease: metaphor-itis. I swear, once I get started, it gets kinda goofy—three, four metaphors stacked up to describe one event or emotion...As I revise a manuscript, I have to really work to trim those metaphors back.
But where, exactly, do all those metaphors come from? Why does creativity pour out of some and only trickle in slow drips out of others? In A BLUE SO DARK, I got a chance to explore some ideas about where creativity might spring from. In Aura’s mind, art and madness are inextricably linked...and there’s not denying that quite a few of our great artists have been both creative and mad at the same time. So she really gives readers something to chew on…
TBP: How did you come up with the title A BLUE SO DARK? (Great title, btw!)
HS: When the book was acquired, the title was actually THE OCEAN FLOOR. But my editor at Flux was a little lukewarm about it. I trolled the manuscript several times, searching for a phrase that would make a good title. I shot my editor several, but when I shot him A BLUE SO DARK, I immediately got a, “That’s it!” kind of email. Success! (Yeah I definitely prefer the title 'A BLUE SO DARK'. :P)
TBP: How long did it take you to write A BLUE SO DARK?
HS: The first draft was written in late 2006, in a real creative burst—just took a couple of months! But when I cleaned it up and began to submit, I started to hear from editors that it was just too internal. So...I started to rewrite. And rewrite. And submit again. And rewrite. But I wasn’t discouraged, because I felt like I was constantly getting closer. The rejections weren’t coming as quickly; I was having near-misses. The official offer from Flux came in early 2009.
TBP: What song do you think goes best with A BLUE SO DARK?
HS: Probably Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” If you don’t know the song, google the lyrics. You’ll see what I mean...
TBP: Was there any research involved in writing your book? If so, how much and what kind?
HS: Yeah, I had to look into schizophrenia a little. Symptoms, behaviors, treatments. But what I really tried to do was absorb that and then turn to working on my book—I wanted my characters to drive the novel, not clinical descriptions of a mental illness.
TBP: Do you have a favorite scene or line from A BLUE SO DARK that you could share with us?
HS: I really like the way the prologue sets the book up...and mermaids (which first appear in the prologue) serve as a symbol through the rest of the book...
TBP: What are you currently working on at the moment?
HS: In addition to A BLUE SO DARK, I was also lucky enough to sell two more novels last year! PLAYING HURT, a YA romance, is due out from Flux in ’11. And my first novel for adults, a romantic comedy tentatively titled FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS, is due out from Blooming Tree Press in ’11 as well.
PLAYING HURT follows the flowering of an intense summer romance between two former athletes who have both endured their own game-related career-ending tragedies. Their unlikely love story has the potential to make them realize just how timidly they’ve both 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?
Laugh-out-loud humor and quirky, lovable characters fill the pages of FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS, a modern-day fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land...A heartwarming Cinderella story in which a “mutt” from Queens reinvents herself as a dog show handler and finds herself hobnobbing with the pedigreed blue bloods in New York City... (OMG, 2011?! Seriously? I'm definitely living to read those books as they both sound so awesome.)
TBP: If today was your last day, how would you spend it and why?
HS: Honestly? I’d write. Listen to good music, drink good coffee. Read some fantastic books by my fellow YA writers. I’m just thrilled to be in such great company…
TBP: What is one of your favorite memories from when you were a kid?
HS: Writing stories at my child-sized rolltop desk…
TBP: Anything else you’d like to add?
HS: Just that I am in this for the long haul. I’m looking forward to spending the next several decades getting to know bloggers and YA fans alike! You can get in contact with me through my website: hollyschindler.com, and my blog: hollyschindler.blogspot.com.
Well I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Holly Schindler through the interview; I know I sure did. Stay tuned because later this week you will have more opportunites to get to know her more through a guest post and a sneak peek into A BLUE SO DARK.