Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with author Holly Schindler

Today, my guest is children's author, Holly Schindler, talking about her latest YA book, PLAYING HURT.

1). Please tell me how long you’ve been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

How long have I been writing? Since shortly after birth. Really. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories. But I was a painfully shy kid, too, and sometimes, I think I started writing as a way to have a “voice.” Writing is so ingrained in who I am, I can’t quite imagine doing anything else…

I decided to give my writing full-time effort once I obtained my master’s degree in ’01…This was only possible because of incredible, incredible financial support from my family. A mere (aheam) nine years later, I released my debut YA novel, A BLUE SO DARK, with Flux. When the starred review came from Booklist, I swore the wait had been more than worth it.

2). Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

Full-time. Usually, I do a little social networking first thing in the morning, then move to my current project…“Current project” can mean anything from a nonfiction article to rewrites requested by my editor or agent, or drafting a completely new novel. The evenings are primarily reserved for working up blog posts and organizing promotional materials for my latest release.
Writing is truly a 24/7 job. Cardiologists don’t keep any longer hours than writers.

3). What influences your writing?

Everything I see, hear, taste, feel, hate, love, regret, and proud of, pine for…Life, sweet and sour, influences my writing.

4). Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?

My latest book, PLAYING HURT, is my second YA…and it’s also my first romance. A BLUE SO DARK, a literary YA, was my first published novel, and was released by Flux in 10. My first middle grade novel will release from Dial in 2012.

5). Why did you choose to write a children’s story?

I was writing strictly adult work when I started teaching piano and guitar lessons from home to pay my bills…Long story short, working with young people inspired me to try my hand at writing for kids!

6). What was the process of creating this book from the first idea of the final published book?

I wrote the first draft of PLAYING HURT before I wrote BLUE, actually…The book was originally a straight love story, told entirely from Chelsea ’s perspective. The subplot regarding sports didn’t exist in the first draft—and neither did Clint’s viewpoint! The final draft features two alternating POVs: Chelsea’s and Clint’s. Though Clint’s voice was a late addition, I really can’t imagine the book without him.

7). What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
That’s a tough one. As a struggling writer, I really didn’t want to go the route of self-publishing. Now, though, with e-publishing, it seems as though the world of self-publishing doesn’t quite have the same negative stigma…In a way, anyone with a blog actually participates in e-publishing.

I do still think that authors benefit from being published by a house. Even if it’s a small house. And I’m not talking about publicity—about having help getting your name out there. I mean that I think having a traditional publisher behind you does still give you credibility as an author.
That having been said, though, I do have a Kindle, and have read self-published work on it. I don’t discount the power of self-publishing or e-publishing. I do think e-books are a force to be reckoned with…

8). What is your marketing strategy?

I devote a great deal of effort to marketing my books online. I’m on all the major social networking sites, and blog five days a week at http:www.hollyschindler.blogspot.com—about developments in my career, but also on the publishing industry and the writing life. You can find vlog posts and tips on submission and writing on my blog, as well as interviews or conversations with some of my fellow authors.

I also market my books by participating in blog tours and making myself available for Skype visits.

Bloggers have been absolutely invaluable to me. They’ve championed my work and spread word of my books—I get really misty-eyed when I think about my incredible bloggers.

9). What are your thoughts about children’s writers needing an agent or not needing one?

I sold my debut and sophomore novel both on my own. So the slush pile really isn’t a hopeless dead zone! But my agent sold the MG to Dial. Having gone both routes, I now completely understand the benefits of representation, and would never want to do it on my own again. But my experiences prove that obtaining an agent isn’t the only way to break in. I elaborated on this topic, in a recent blog post. You can read the post here: http://hollyschindler.blogspot.com/2011/02/breaking-in-is-agent-must.html

10). Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

My website (http://www.hollyschindler.com) has links to all my social websites!

11). Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?

Get thee to a library / bookstore. You CANNOT write children’s literature based on what you read as a child or teen. You’ve GOT to know what’s out there now. If you write based on what you read when you were younger, I guarantee the rejection letters will tell you your work sounds old-fashioned…even if you were a teen as little as ten years ago!

12). Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

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?


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.

*A BLUE SO DARK received a starred review in Booklist and was named one of Booklist’s Top 10 First Novel for Youth in 2010.


  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing them!

  2. GHB - thank you for stopping by. Glad you found the tips useful.

  3. Penny, that is very nice interview with Holly Schindler. I just read an article on Holly in the SCBWI Bulliten Jan/Feb issue - yes, I know I'm behind in my reading, however, her article advice was insightful and lead me to blog surfing where I found you both!I am new to blogging and have spent much time checking out your and Holly's blog lists. Interesting.

  4. Diane, so glad you found us. It's always great to "see" and hear from someone new. Hope you have a chance to stop by again.