Interview: Bethany Crandell, YA Author

Crandell.HeadshotBethany Crandell and her husband Terry live in San Diego with their two daughters and a chocolate Labrador who has no consideration for personal space. She writes Young Adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s ‘first’ times are too good not to relive again and again. Bethany eats too much guacamole, thrives on tear-inducing laughter, and is still waiting for Jake Ryan to show up at her door.

Her current project is SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS (Running Press Teens, Spring ’14), a sarcastic, charming, and laugh-out-loud look at what happens when your comfort zone disappears and all that’s left to protect you is the brutal truth.

Cricket Montgomery was born with a golden spoon in her mouth (though Tiffany platinum would have been preferred) and the narcissistic notion that the world revolves around her. After a botched party attempt at the country-club lands her in hot water with her rarely-present father, it’s bye-bye relaxing Hawaiian vacation, hello attitude-adjustment as a summer camp counselor.

As if being left for dead in Western Michigan with limited cell coverage isn’t punishment enough, Cricket’s horror increases when she realizes she’s working at a camp for disabled teens. Thankfully there’s one bright spot in handicapped hell; fellow counselor and Zac Efron lookalike Quinn, who Cricket falls head over heels for. Unfortunately for Cricket, Quinn is the one person who offers her the brutal truth about the kind of person she really is–and not even a platinum spoon can make ‘self-centered, bitch’ taste good.

As wheelchairs, lazy eyes, and slurred speech begin to threaten her sanity, Cricket finds herself relying on the unlikely friendships she makes with the campers, and the strange connection the camp’s director seems to have to her forgotten past.

Keep track of Bethany on her website.

Let’s see how Bethany answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Chips, guacamole, margaritas and a John Hughes movie.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Jeepers!! This not an easy question–the answer changes with my mood. Here’s a quick list: (I’ll never change the station when these come on.)

More by Mathew West. This is my go-to reminder that I am taken care of and loved. First heard in the car.

All I Want by Toad the Wet Sprocket. *sigh* This brings me back to high school. Mostly good memories. I cannot recall where I heard it first.

No One Ever Is To Blame by Howard Jones. This song just ROCKS. The melody, the contradictions…beautiful. First heard in my sister’s bedroom.

Try by P!nk. I just dig this song. It’s tough enough without trying too hard. First heard in my…*gulps* *cringes* mini van!!

Which talent would you most like to have?
Hmm…talents are different than super powers… I wish I could sing. Or, let me clarify that. I wish I could sing WELL.

On what occasion do you lie?

To spare someone’s feelings. And it’s usually not a lie, but a softer version of the truth. I hate making people feel bad.

What is your present state of mind?
Unsettled.

What is your motto?
Just do the best I can today.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Authenticity.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I say RIDICULOUS a lot. And RAD.

Your favorite painting?
A watercolor my daughter did in first grade.

What is your favorite journey?
The one I walk every day. Juggling parenthood, marriage, work, writing. It’s not always easy, but it’s a ride I’d take again and again.

What is your favorite time of day?
Breakfast. Every day it’s the same, and every day it makes me happy. A big bowl of oats with brown sugar and black and blueberries.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
I don’t drink coffee, but I’m sure that Holden Caulfield would be down for a chat over a pint.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Nothing. I’m good to go right now.

Who or what is your first love?
I didn’t recognize this until I was older, but writing is my first love. Looking back, I can see how it was always a part of my life, even if it was structured. I’ve always savored the act of sitting down with a piece of paper, or a keyboard, and just letting go.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Two nights ago. A co-worker and I had an impromptu super bowl party at an unfamiliar house and ended up abandoning it because there was no alcohol. I don’t dare to uncover the true meaning of that dream.

What’s your madeleine?
A memory. As preacher’s kids, my sisters and I were expected to behave a certain way–to fit a certain mold. Well, let’s just say I didn’t comply. I was about six years-old, and we were eating Sunday dinner at the home of a wealthy, but very down-to-earth family. The table was set with fine china and crystal glasses. Since I’d already been scolded for capping my fingertips with black olives, I decided to fish around for ice cubs in my very fancy glass. Our hostess saw this, smiled, and said to my mom, “That one will keep you humble.” I’ve cherished that memory forever and it always takes me back to who I am–ME. I cannot be someone the world expects me or wants me to be. That olive just wouldn’t fit.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Laughter.

Interview: A. Lynden Rolland, YA Author

OBT_eBookA. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, a picturesque town obsessed with boats and blue crabs. As a child she spent much of her free time compiling dramatic stories of tragic characters in a weathered notebook which she still keeps. She is a sports fanatic, a coffee addict, and a lover of Sauvignon Blanc, thunderstorms, and autumn leaves.
amyrollandShe is a former high school English teacher and a mother of two who moonlights as a writing tutor and gymnastics instructor. 
When she isn’t chasing her two vivacious boys or arguing about football with her husband, she can be found hiding behind a laptop at her local bookstore. 

She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services. Of Breakable Things, her debut novel, will be released by Month9Books in the spring of 2014. Find out more about A. Lynden and her latest project, Color Me Blue on her website.

Let’s see how A. Lynden answers the Proust Questionnaire! 

What is your idea of happiness?
I ask myself this question all the time. I don’t think it’s something you reach; it’s an idea, like the rest of the thoughts that float in and out of your mind. I think you choose to be happy despite what is happening in your life, but it’s easier to adopt such a state of mind when happiness makes itself known during a beautiful day or when something is accomplished. Sometimes it feels far away, but then it will tap me on the shoulder in the form of my children smiling, and I know it’s always there whether I can see it or not.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I typically have a new favorite song each season. I’m very indecisive; although, I’m always inspired by New Age music especially that of Michele McLaughlin. In fact, I’m listening to it now. But for the past year or so, my favorite song has fittingly beenThe Story by Brandi Carlile. Every line in that song coincides so beautifully with my life and who I am now.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Everlasting patience would be nice.

On what occasion do you lie?
Usually only when people are trying to sell me something or my son asks me questions like, Where do babies come from?

What is your present state of mind?
Focused with an undertone of serenity. I’m sitting on the back patio while my one year old sleeps and my four year old plays in the sandbox. It’s almost sixty degrees today, but weather in Maryland is so unpredictable it will probably snow tomorrow.

What is your motto?
“Keep smiling. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.” And: Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. –– Lemony Snicket

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Humor. I love sitting a table and laughing until my insides hurt.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Shut up!” … in response to something hard to believe. I say it way too much, and I sound like such an airhead.

Alice's Evidence by Salvador Dalí; created as an illustration for Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Evidence by Salvador Dalí (created as an illustration for Alice in Wonderland)

Your favorite painting?
Anything by that wonderful wacko, Salvador Dalí.

What is your favorite journey?
Adolescence. That’s why I write about it.

What is your favorite time of day?
Midnight. It’s when I’m the most productive.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Albus Dumbledore. Hands down.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I need to see my children, grown, smiling, successful, and happy.

Who or what is your first love?
Gymnastics was my first love. I began competing at seven, and throughout my childhood I spent most of my evenings at the gym. My best friends were my gym friends, and my summers were spent sweating in a hot warehouse learning new skills and routines. Even the days when I cried in frustration, hurt myself, or puked during conditioning, I still loved it though I hated it, too. Gymnastics made me the person I am today- it made me appreciate the value of hard work and discipline. Anything worth doing is going to take time, energy, dedication, and a few falls. It taught me to land on my feet.

What’s the last dream you remember?
All I remember is a rowboat, a pond, and some math homework. Riddle me that, Freud.

What’s your madeleine?
Emotion. Anything and everything that can invoke emotion. A word, an image, a song, a dance, a poem, a stranger’s smile, a child’s voice. What else do we live for moment to moment other than to be moved by something?

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Temperamental.

Interview: Zoë Marriott, YA Author

ZoeMarriottYA novelist Zoë Marriott lives on the bleak and windy East coast of Britain, in a house crowded with books, cats, and an eccentric sprocker named Finn (also known as the Devil Hound). Her folk and fairytale inspired fantasy novels are critically acclaimed and have been nominated for many awards, even winning a few, including a USBBY Outstanding International Book listing for The Swan Kingdom and a Junior Library Guild Selection and the prestigious Sasakawa Prize for Shadows on the Moon.

In July 2013 The Night Itself, the start of an epic new urban fantasy trilogy called The Name of The Blade will be unleashed onto the world in a tide of Kitsune, Kami and katanas. Zoë is proudly represented by Nancy Miles of the Miles Stott Children’s Literacy Agency.

Visit Zoë on her website and pre-order The Night Itself here!

Let’s see how Zoë answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Freedom. Time. Peace. Space. Solitude. All the things I require in order to work, really. And a large mug of chai latte…

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
The piece of music I listen to over and over and never get tired of (and own about six different versions of) is Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis. This is a piece of sacred music composed in the time of Elizabeth the First. I heard it for the first time about ten years ago, after I told a friend about a book that I was working on (an alternate history Tudor fantasy based on the short, tragic life of Arbella Stewart).

My friend thought an album of Elizabethan music called The Rose and the Osterich Feather might be inspiring for me, and sent it all the way from Tokyo. I listened to it for the first time on a warm summer evening just as the sun was going doing down, casting golden light into my small living room. I felt as if I had experienced something really close to divine. I listened to it over and over for close to an hour, until the light was all gone and everything had gone silvery and cold and still. The book went the way of the Dodo, by the way––but Spem in Alium still brings me to tears each time I listen to it.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play a musical instrument really well. At the time of writing this I can play a recorder, the piano, a violin and a mandolin… all really, really, REALLY badly. I mean, just nauseatingly badly. The average five year old can probably play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star better than I can. No amount of practise seems to help.

On what occasion do you lie?
To make other people feel better. I almost never lie on my own account, but I will perjure my immortal soul to make a sad person smile, even just a little.

What is your present state of mind?
Stressed out. That’s normal for me, though.

What is your motto?
Compassion is the most underrated virtue. Also: Everyone is weird. Everyone. Avoid anyone who tries to convince you that they’re normal, as they’re usually dangerous, and almost always boring.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Empathy.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Absolutely!” I know I do it. I hate it. But the moment someone asks me a question which requires a simple ‘yes’ it just seems to explode from my lips. Then I cringe.

In the Word Wood by David Wyatt

In the Word Wood by David Wyatt

Your favorite painting?
It changes from day to day. At the moment it’s this one, by one of my favourite illustrators, David Wyatt. I actually own a print of this but I don’t have enough money to have it framed at the moment. *Sigh*

What is your favorite journey?
Probably the train journey between Stockport and Manchester. It’s magical. You’re stuck on the train travelling through the most boring, flat, brownish fields and then you go through a long, pitch-dark tunnel, your ears pop, and you emerge into this bleak, wild landscape of gorse-covered hills, dry-stone walls and stone bridges over churning silver becks. Suddenly all the stories in your head come alive and anything is possible.

What is your favorite time of day?
Very early in the morning, when the sun is just coming up. Particularly if I can get out with my dog and go roaming through the nature reserve where I live. A start like that sets me up for the rest of the day.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
This is a tough one, but I’d love to have a proper High Tea with Chrestomanci (and Millie and Michael Saunders and Irene and Cat and Janet and… well, everyone) from Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci Chronicles. Those people have had adventures on almost every world. The stories you’d hear!

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I need to finish this trilogy. I’d be devastated to pop off and leave it unfinished. But I’d like to have a chance to get to the Beauty and the Beast retelling that I have planned, too, because I’m so excited about that. There’s also a romantic sort of story dealing with dragons and archeology that I want to get to. And a piece of science fiction…

Who or what is your first love?
My first love was a boy called Lee. He was in the same primary school class as me and was the only boy who was fast enough to catch me when we ran races. Well, not really. I just let him win because I liked his silvery eyes and black, shaggy hair. But he was better than me at drawing, which is what first gained my respect. He captured my heart by bringing me a Spanish leather purse back from his family holiday abroad, and my attempts to write him love letters, featuring pictograms when I didn’t know how to spell the words, caused hilarity to both our families, but definitely improved my language skills. When I was about nine he moved away to a different area and I was sure my heart was broken for good. But I remember very clearly thinking “Oh, so this is what a broken heart feels like… I should use this in a story one day…” And thus a writer was born.

The_Night_Itself_coverWhat’s the last dream you remember?
I have vivid and disturbing dreams almost every night, so this is last night’s. I was part of some kind of resistance group, hiding in plain sight in a suburban community of wicked, evil creatures who *looked* like humans, but seemed to need to eat infants. Living infants of any kind, human or animal. I was tasked to try and break into these terrible people’s houses in the middle of the night and to steal their food––baby humans, kittens, puppies, mice, monkeys––and smuggle the poor helpless things away. I remember an overwhelming, crushing sense of responsibility twinned with hopelessness, because no matter how many babies I saved there would always be hundreds more being devoured at any moment––and it was inevitable that I was going to get caught, probably sooner rather than later, and then who would do my job?

This theme––helpless, hopeless struggle against overwhelming odds––seems to be a common theme in my dreams. It’s not what I’d call particularly restful…

What’s your madeleine?
The smell of hospitals. Throughout most of my childhood my mother was seriously ill––and when she started to get better my father became even more dangerously sick. I spent large chunks of my formative years huddled, half-crying and half asleep, on hard plastic chairs clutching at someone’s arm––and I’m never sure if the large, unresponsive ‘someone’ is my older sister, or my mother, or father––staring at the ugly splashy patterns on hospital lino floors in the eye-watering yellow strip lighting. Hospital ward after hospital ward, waiting room after waiting room. They all blur together. On a few terrifying occasions, I walked home from my school into a house that smelled of hospitals––a sure sign that an ambulance had been summoned and that someone had been taken away, that it was all beginning again. Brushing by a nurse in the supermarket is still enough to send echoes of helpless, child-like panic and fear through my whole body.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Freedom.