Monday, July 19, 2010

Author Interview: Carol Lynch Williams

Carol Lynch Williams is an absolute delight. I have loved e-mailing with her and seeing her at writer's conferences. She is honestly one of the most inspiring people I know.

For more about her, and writing advice check out her awesome blog with Ann Dee Ellis

Now on to the interview!

1) GLIMPSE is your first book in verse (which I believe you called "not really verse, but broken up sentences"). Why did you choose this format?

CLW: Good question. The truth is, I worked on this book for a long, long, LONG time. Years. I had many editors interested, but they thought the book was too dark. Well, it IS pretty dark. Anyway. One day it just came to me to try the book in the short, choppy line. The main character, Hope, is looking at her world that way--in just glimpses. So maybe if the word on the page looked the way she felt . . . Then i happened to find a publisher who has had success in publishing these kinds of books! I was so lucky!

2) You have mentioned to me how much this book means to you. Can you explain a little bit why this was such an important book for you to write?

CLW: I just read a local review about my book, The Chosen One, where the reviewer said she was so disturbed about the dunking of the baby in ice water that she couldn't appreciate the rest of the book. Then she said something like, "I know kids have it rough. But I don't think they see this kind of stuff." Here's what I think: Kids DO see awful stuff. And they experience it, too. I know of a boy (he knows one of my daughters) who's father came into a fast food restaurant, shot and killed the boy's mother, then kicked her teeth in. I know of another boy who's mother and sisters went missing--and they finally found the car--with their bodies in it--submerged in a river. Foul play was suspected. Already I am getting emails from people saying things like, "I understand what Hope and Lizzie went through." Girls (and women) are already telling me this. Life is hard. And when we hand a book to a kid who may need what you have written (travel the country and meet with kids, you'll see them everywhere), you can feel some relief that you didn't shy away from something. There are tough books out there and there are happy books out there. Kids can pick and choose what they want. I want all the Lizzie's of the world to know they can get free. They can fight and make it. And BTW, that dunking of the baby IS the way some people discipline their kids. The scene ALWAYS gets the mothers. (It doesn't bother younger readers as much, believe it or not!)

3) What is the reason you chose to write YA novels in the first place?

CLW: My books have always been edgy. I have always written upper middle grade, lower YA, with a couple of exceptions. That's the place my real voice is. Right now, I have some dark stories going on in my head, so I'm getting them out. And the books I have ALWAYS liked the best are young adult novels.
4) I have an idea in my head, but I am wondering if there was an era/date for the setting of the book? (Is that even a question? I need an editor.)

CLW: Glimpse is contemporary.
*Note: This is what I thought, I just wondered because some of the reviews I read thought that it might be a bit earlier in time period.

5) The mother in this novel is a hard character to understand. She just seems so, broken. But as a mother myself, I can't imagine behaving the way she did in many instances. What are the mother's feelings/motivations that we don't get to see from Hope's perspective?

CLW: I know you love that baby girl of yours. Aren't you so glad you can't imagine treating anyone the way Hope's mom does? She is a broken, sad, sick woman. As far as her feelings and motivations--she knows what she does is wrong, but I think she feels justified. Really, I don't know why anyone acts the way s/he does. I'm always surprised to hear of horrible people doing horrible things. Are they all sick? Are they evil? What I know is, this kinda stuff happens. A lot. Once is too much, but this happens a LOT.
6) Your book does not shirk from hard topics that can be hard and sad to read about, yet it is empowering at the same time. What do you hope people take from these themes?

CLW: I do hope people 'enjoy' the read as much as they can. I hope they love the language and the unwinding of the story. I hope good moms show their daughters the book and say, "See, we are okay." I hope teachers see kids who are struggling and let them see characters survive. I hope mostly I have told the story in an honest way. And I think I have.

7) What is your favorite book of all time?

CLW: The one you are going to publish.

*Note: Oh Carol! I laughed so hard at this and am completely flattered. Can you see why she is such a great teacher for young authors? Seriously people check her blog!

8) What are you reading right now?

CLW: I just started LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor (A wow! so far!) and I just finished our own Matthew Kirby's novel THE CLOCKWORK THREE (he has some amazing word choices in this book). And I have a pile of books to be read!

9) What are you working on currently?

CLW: I am working on three books. One is my Damned Dystopian. I am making some real progress on it. Something funny has happened as I have wrestled with this novel. I have noticed that if I want to get anything written I need to sit down and write. I'm also working on another book in the short, choppy line. It's the story of a girl who has had something awful happen and now the seams of her life are starting to come undone and she can't hold it together any more. And I am doing a rewrite of a true middle grade novel.

Thank you so much Carol! You know I love you tons, and loved GLIMPSE!


Sara said...

What a great interview. Thanks Carol. :)

Randi said...

that is a great interview good questions good answers!