1. Where did the idea to write A Blue So Dark come from?
A Blue So Dark follows Aura Ambrose’s struggles to care for her mother, an artist, as she sinks into the darkness of schizophrenia. Fearing that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her own drawing and writing, and her life unravels in the process…
I’m really, REALLY just absolutely fascinated by creativity. In ALL its forms—writing, painting, playing or composing music…I even think a sense of humor shows a person has some creativity—humor, in a way, is a person’s creative slant on the world around them…But I’ve also long been interested in the source of creativity. Why some people can look at the world and hear an entire album’s worth of songs, or imagine ten novels, or see a whole exhibition of paintings…and others? Nothin’.
A Blue So Dark allowed me to explore the idea that creativity and madness are somehow linked. And there’s no denying many of our "great" artists were mentally ill…so Aura’s fears really, in some respects, aren’t completely unfounded.
2. Were there any worries or preoccupations that you had when writing A Blue So Dark?
I wasn’t working through any worries about my own mental health—didn’t have any personal experience with schizophrenia. The mental health aspect of the novel was actually completely fiction.
3. Was being published always an aspiration of yours?
Oooh, yeah. Since—shortly after birth, actually. I’ve just always, always loved books and writing. I remember thinking even when I was in elementary school that someday, I’d go to college, and then I’d write. Period. Thankfully, I have an amazing family that completely supported my love of literature, and gave me much-needed financial backing while I tried to get my writing career off the ground.
4. Have you always written for young adults?
No—actually, I’d ONLY drafted novels for adults, when I started teaching piano and guitar lessons out of my house (as a way to pay a few bills). My students actually inspired me to write for teens!
5. In terms of writing: what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?
I think one of my greatest strengths is my ability to work despite life’s interruptions. (Which is REALLY coming in handy, now that I’m in the midst of renovating my childhood home! I can rip wallpaper off while outlining a new chapter.)
I also put in eight hour days…and I work EVERY day. I think stamina’s an incredibly important part of being a writer. Working on a novel is very much a marathon run. If you start to get completely winded in the first ten minutes, you’ll never see the finish line.
Weakness? I think drafting new material is the hardest part. To me, revision is a much more exciting part of the process. I LOVE to see a book start to take on its final form…
6. Do you have a favorite book? Favorite author?
Actually…no. I have favorite passages, favorite characters. I think each published author has his or her own specialty—some are incredible plotters. Some have a real ear for dialogue. Some write incredibly poetic description. I really think it’s my job to dig out the best that each writer has to offer…recognizing what works in others’ novels helps me become a better writer!
7. What’s your writing process like?
I draft as quickly as possible. Then I start to rewrite…I’ll actually revise a novel SEVERAL times—I’m talking global changes—introducing new characters, or subplots, axing and replacing scenes. THEN I begin the process of “ironing”—of smoothing out the wrinkles, working on small changes, before I submit to an editor. (Of course, though, once a manuscript is accepted for publication, it goes through ANOTHER round of revisions in-house…one of the best things a writer can do is get used to repetitive revision…)
8. If you could have written any one novel which would you choose and why?
Aw, come on…don’t we all wish, in some way, we’d written TWILIGHT? I actually think being able to come up with a concept so far-reaching is an enormous talent—to hone in on a subject that captures SO many readers’ hearts? Really—if that was so easy, we’d all be bestselling authors, right?
9. Three fun facts about you?
I STILL prefer to listen to my music on vinyl.
I’m firmly convinced I’m the biggest coffee junkie on the planet.
I really, honestly think dandelions are beautiful.
10. Are you working on any new projects at the moment? Anything you can share?
In addition to A Blue So Dark I was lucky enough to sell two more novels in ’09!
Playing Hurt (Flux, ’11) follows the flowering of an intense summer romance between two former athletes. Their unlikely love affair has the potential to heal their heartache…but by playing hurt—entering into a romance with already-broken hearts—are they just setting themselves up for the kind of heartache from which they could never recover?
Fifth Avenue Fidos (my first adult novel) will be the first book under the new Blooming Tree imprint Love in Bloom—and is slated for a fall 2011 release.
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. Fifth Avenue Fidos follows a “mutt” from Queens as she reinvents herself as a show dog handler…and maybe even wins herself the heart of a prince along the way!
…And of course I’m hard at work on other projects…I get new ideas popping ALL the time—notebooks filled with them! I’m constantly getting excited and revved about new possibilities…
To find out more about Holly Schindler and her work you can visit both her official website and blog.
Thanks SO much Holly! :)