Monday, September 26, 2011

Chatting with Nobel YA author, Bonnie Ferrante

AUTHOR: Bonnie Ferrante
BOOK TITLE: Dawn's End: Poisoned (sequel to Dawn's End)
PUBLISHER: Noble Young Adult

Tell us your latest news?
My latest book, a dark fantasy entitled Dawn's End: Poisoned, will be released August 22. It is a sequel to Dawn's End, published May 31.

When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing for publication in the eighties, but I've written in secret for as long as I can remember. There's some pretty terrible poetry in my old notebooks, blackmail material really.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started to get short stories published in the nineties. A couple were published in a regional anthology. That's the first time I autographed a book.  Pretty heady feeling. Then I wrote a humor column for a newspaper for three years. People recognized me and commented on my work. Now and then I'd enter a gas station or a little shop and see one of my columns pasted on the bulletin board, something that was relevant to the owner. It gave me an inner strut.

What inspired you to write your first book? 
I was working half time, and the job did not entail as much evening work as previously, so I wrote several drafts of my first two books. Then my job changed, and I wasn't able to get back to novel writing for years. Now I've made writing my full time job and earn enough to pay for the occasional dinner out. Thankfully, my husband gets a steady pay check.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In both books, I examine obstacles women have in our lives that prevent us from being happy. Often these impediments are external, but we internalize them and allow them to restrict who we are. We need to recognize and deal with them in order to grow.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
These are fantasy books so the literal experiences are imagined. However, we all have emotional baggage that weighs us down. 

What books have most influenced your life most?
In high school and university I loved Three Musketeers, Brave New World. The Lord of the Rings, Animal Farm, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Island of the Blue Dolphins, In Cold Blood, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Martian Chronicles, The Little Prince, and everything by John Wyndham.  I read "nonfiction" books on Stonehenge, the Bermuda Triangle, the Sasquatch, hauntings, anything weird and unexplainable. I loved DC and Marvel comics, especially superheroes – Wonder Woman rocks! I also went through a phase where I read all the James Bond books… don't judge me.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Terry Brooks was the first author that made me realize that I could write books where fantasy and reality could connect.  It opened up so many possibilities. I could have the best of both worlds.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
I just finished Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series and loved it. I was amazed at the creative take on religion, alternate worlds, souls, consciousness, God, and quantum physics. That's gutsy writing.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Patrick Ness is absolutely gripping. Veronica Roth has come out with a bang with Divergent. Chris Cleave is new to me and his Little Bee novel ripped my heart out.

What are your current projects?
I'm working on my fourth draft of Water and Fire a fantasy about a teenage girl with remarkable powers.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would change everything. I hate reading my published work because I always find things I could improve, but I just have to let it go and more on. Don't look back.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child, I used to create puppet shows for the smaller children in the neighborhood and I would spend hours plotting the stories. That's was probably the beginning. I wrote my first picture book for my older sister's children when I was in university. I've written for myself for as long as I could remember but it was fun to write for an audience. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I have some weird problem with spatial relationships. I'm constantly lost. My husband realized he had better buy me a GPS if he wanted to keep our gasoline bills reasonable. I can't tell you what rooms in my home are below each other. I often write the Sudoku numbers in the wrong box. I can't visualize. So, this causes problems for me when I have to describe setting. I've learned to collect pictures and make sketches for reference when I write. 

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?
If I am stumped in a piece of writing I will reread what I've written and sometimes it restarts me. I may do some research to fuel the juice.  I might write a chapter from another part of the book. If nothing works, I set it aside and work on another piece of writing. I usually have at least two novels on the go, a short story, and an article. If I dodge around, writers block can't catch me.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I am a little compulsive about landscaping. I bought a house five years ago, and whenever it isn't snowing and I have time, money, and energy, I'm usually creating something in my back yard. I spend a ridiculous amount of money on dirt.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author changes. In fact, I don't have a favorite anything. I deeply admire Margaret Atwood's speculative fiction though. She's kind of a goddess to me.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Beginnings are the most difficult. I rewrite them ad nauseam. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
We all have a dark side. Mine is fairly substantial. I learned I can use it to write some pretty creepy stuff.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Practice, read, support other writers, be patient, and learn to accept rejection with grace and hope.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
The two Dawn books can be read independently of each other. Poisoned  is darker and for older young adults.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
Just the new release.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
Jill Noble publisher of Noble Young Adult sent out an internet announcement saying she was starting a new young adult line. I thought, "Hey, Dawn's End would work for this if I finish the bloody thing" and I did and it did.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Facebook – Bonnie Ferrante

Twitter – BonnieFerrante

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