Thursday, January 10, 2013

Author: Holly Schindler Interview and Giveaway!

We've got a wonderful young adult author visiting Books à la Mode today. She's the author of Playing Hurt (which I won in a giveaway and will hopefully soon start!) and A Blue So Dark, and blogger extraordinaire. Everyone, help me welcome Holly Schindler!

Welcome to the site, Holly! Would you share a brief introduction with us?

I’ve always been obsessed with books—ever since the days when I had to have a new Little Golden Book every time I went to the supermarket with my mom. When I got my master’s, Mom encouraged me to stay home and give full-time effort to my writing. (Very A Room of One's Own...) A mere (ahem) seven and a half years later, I signed my first book deal, for my debut novel, A Blue So Dark.

I won’t lie—there were times that those unpublished years weighed pretty heavily on me. But now, I wouldn’t trade those hard years in the trenches for anything. Best education in the world, those trenches.

The good things in life never do come easy! Tell us a bit about your books!

I’ve published two YAs: A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt. They’re pretty night-and-day different, as even a quick look at their covers reveal:

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 into 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.

Praise: “Breathtakingly, gut-wrenchingly authentic... A haunting, realistic view of the melding of art, creativity, and mental illness and their collective impact on a young person’s life." — Booklist starred review

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Praise: “Loved Playing Hurt. You find yourself rooting for Chelsea and Clint from the moment they meet. And the writing? Wow. The writing was exceptional, and I must say, I've developed quite the writerly crush on Holly.” — Jennifer L. Armentrout, Author of Young Adult and Adult Urban Fantasy and Romance

How did you choose the titles? 

My mom (who is also my first reader) has actually chosen the official titles of both my published books. She zoned in on Playing Hurt before it was acquired.

When A Blue So Dark was acquired, its working title was The Ocean Floor. My editor at Flux was really lukewarm about it, though, and encouraged me to troll through the manuscript, looking for phrases that would also make good titles. Mom and I both made lists of phrases we liked; my editor instantly fell for A Blue So Dark, which was on one of Mom’s lists.

Aww, how sweet! It's wonderful how supporting your mom is with your career—she's the one who encouraged it in the first place, too. How did you first get published? Tell us your call story.

I submitted my debut, A Blue So Dark, to Flux (a division of Llewellyn Worldwide) shortly after Brian Farrey got his position as acquiring editor. At the time, I was unagented; I submitted straight to Brian. He called to talk about the book shortly before Thanksgiving; after the acquisitions meeting, I was told an offer was coming (but would be delayed by the holidays). I tried to play it cool, but in truth, I was completely tied up in knots over Christmas. The official offer came shortly after the new year...

And two hours after accepting the agreement with Flux, I got a phone call from an agent who had a middle grade I’d written, and wanted to represent me! It was just unreal: for seven and a half years, I’d sought a book deal, sought representation. And suddenly, in one day, I had both!

How exciting! Sounds like a literal dream come true. How much of your real life gets written into your fictional stories?

I never write my books based on things that have happened to me, nor are any of my characters based on people I know. I always figure if I were to write thinly-veiled autobiography, I’d wind up writing the same book over and over. Besides, one of the most exciting parts of writing for me is trying on characters and situations completely unlike my own.
That's a really interesting way to see it, and a fantastic way to keep your ideas fresh as well! What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

They’re one and the same actually: my seemingly endless supply of ideas. I always say I’m a complete idea junkie—there’s just really no thrill quite like that ah-ha! moment. While it’s great to always have something to write, though, it’s really easy to get sidetracked by a new story idea.
Let’s face it—the middles of novels are rough. It’s so enticing to ditch a difficult middle in order to dive into an exciting new project. I’ve had to learn to keep notebooks or files of story ideas; I write down sketches or outlines (so I won’t lose new ideas when they come), then put them away and get back to my current work-in-progress.
I, too, find that the most difficult aspect of writing! The enthusiasm I have for a new story idea exponentially decreases with time... hrmphh! How would you describe your writing style?

It’s pretty literary—even when I’m writing a piece that’s closer to genre fiction (for instance, my second YA is a romance)—I still tend to focus pretty heavily on character.  My writing also tends to be more lyrical, as well.
Sounds like I would devour it... I'm such a glutton for the literary voice! Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you'd known before getting published.

When I was seeking my first publishing deal, I was convinced that the struggle would end once I got that first acceptance. The truth is, a writing career is an unending roller coaster. Snagging that first deal is an enormous accomplishment—but in no way does the struggle end when you sign that first contract. It means that now you’ve got to figure out how to edit under deadline, how to promote your work, how to write another book that will excite your editor...
That's probably the most insightful advice I've heard from any author before! Most people just say to never give up or to write everyday, or whatever. Which is helpful, but I already KNOW that. Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your kids.

In the end, the things you’ll be proudest of are the things that set you apart and make you different.
Share with us your all-time favorite quote.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London
Never heard that one before, but I love it! What's next for you?

I have two books in development: my debut middle-grade, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, is forthcoming from Dial, and my next YA, Feral, is set to release with HarperCollins.
I'm so happy for you!!!! Congrats on the upcoming releases, and the very best of luck to you. I'll keep my eye out for them! Where can you be found on the web?

I administrate two group blogs: Smack Dab in the Middle for MG authors and YA Outside the Lines for YA authors.  I also have a personal author blog and can be found on Facebook and Twitter: @holly_schindler. My website is
Is there anything you'd like to ask of our readers?

They can sign up for my mailing list in order to receive all the latest news straight to their inbox. I’ll be organizing massive blog tours for my releases, and am brainstorming other fun opportunities for bloggers, as well!  If you blog, you don’t want to miss out, but it’s in no way mandatory to have a book blog to be on the list. I look forward to hearing from all of my readers—either through my mailing list or social media. 


Thanks so much for joining us today, ma chérie! Readers, Holly is giving away two AUTOGRAPHED bookplates to two lucky winners. To enter, sign up for Holly's mailing list, then fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 24 January, 2013.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
I am in no way responsible for the prize, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!