Take Five with Holly Schindler, YA Author of A BLUE SO DARK & PLAYING HURT
Dec 11th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Holly Schindler




ENTER TO WIN YOUR CHOICE OF ONE OF HOLLY’S NOVELS by listing which novel you would want in the comments’ section. Tweet and/or post on Facebook for an extra entry each – let me know. Giveaway ends on December 21, 8:00 PM EST

1. From some of the things I read about you, it seems like you sacrificed quite a bit to become a published author, and if it hadn’t been for your family your dreams would not have come true. What’s the journey been like and what do you most want other aspiring authors to take from your experience?

My path to publication was long and winding—took seven and a half years to get the first acceptance! And it also took full-time tunnel vision to really learn the ins and outs of writing a novel (even though I already had a master’s in English). Without the incredible support—financial and emotional—I got from my family, I never would have gotten started. I never would have seen that first acceptance without having all that time to write. (I taught piano and guitar lessons part-time to pay my bills, but because of my family’s support, I didn’t have to seek full-time employment. My full-time job has always been writing.) I won’t lie—four, five, six years into my pursuit, I had my down moments, and I shed a few tears…but I never felt like I should be doing anything else. And in that respect, I don’t feel like I sacrificed at all. Actually, I feel as though the REAL sacrifice would have been to get the full-time job and not pursue writing! (The idea of that’s just so incredibly sad—I know I wouldn’t have been truly happy doing anything but writing.) The thing is, there’s a point in the pursuit of ANY dream when it feels like the dream is kicking your butt a little—it doesn’t matter what the dream is…maybe it’s to own your own business, or to become a surgeon, or breed ostriches. You’ll have days when you look at yourself and wonder what you’re doing. But I learned firsthand that’s the point at which it’s the most important to keep pushing.

2. Both of your novels are realistic fiction. What is the appeal for you to this particular genre and are there any other genres you see yourself writing in the future? What other genres do you enjoy reading?

I’m a fan of all genres—there’s nothing I won’t read: classics, contemporary, poetry, literary, romance. I even took a sci fi course in college, because that was the one section of the library I’d never spent much time in and I thought if I immersed myself in it for a while, I’d want to read more books in that genre. Now, no section of my public library goes unvisited! While my first books are realistic fiction, they do still differ slightly: A BLUE SO DARK is literary, and PLAYING HURT is a romance. And my writing interests are every bit as varied as my reading interests, so stay tuned!

3. As you know, I haven’t read A Blue So Dark, yet. It’s a YA novel that brings to light the difficulties of a teen dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia. From what I understand it’s very different from Playing Hurt, your second novel, which I loved. Playing Hurt is an older YA contemporary/romance novel. The main characters are out of high school and address issues such as death, physical and emotional injuries, identity crisis, choices, love, and sex. What, if any, are some of the similarities between your two novels, and what is it that you hope readers will take away from A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt.

You’re right—on the surface, those two books are absolutely night and day different. But I think the quality I’m most proud of in both of those books is their honesty. I think both are pretty bare—BLUE maybe even more so than PLAYING HURT. I also love that the characters in both books are slightly flawed—they kind of bumble through their struggles—but they ultimately triumph. I think that’s the beautiful thing about YA, though—as a whole, I think what you’ve got are characters who are dealing with adult situations for the first time. Teen characters are in no way seasoned pros when it comes to dealing with the hardships of life. So they’re bound to make a bunch of mistakes. But they do succeed. Revisiting all those “firsts” in life is one of the reasons why writing YA is so much fun.

4. A huge congrats to you for your debut middle grade novel, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, which is coming out in 2012 and is being published by Dial. Please share with us what you can about this new novel.

Thanks for the congrats! THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY is still about a year away from publication. It’s about a young artist, and will feature original cover art—the first of any of my books to have original art! I’m really excited about that…

5. What has been one of the biggest life lessons you personally have learned and how has it helped you to grow as a person?

The absolute biggest lesson I’ve learned is the benefit of persistence. You don’t get anywhere in life if you don’t just dig those heels in and really learn the art of being a bit stubborn. That’s not to say that you should be bullheaded and believe that what you write is always perfect and that you should never revise anything when rejections inevitably come in. What I mean is that you can’t let the rejections make you think it’ll never happen. One rejection of one project is just that—one rejection. And an opportunity to learn and improve. Get to work; revise and submit again. I really believe that the only authors who never get to see their books on the shelves are those who give up.

A BLUE SO DARK: Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talent 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. One of Booklist’s Top 10 Novels for Youth (2010) Silver Medal, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year (Young Adult Fiction) Gold Medal, IPPY Awards (Juvenile / Young Adult Fiction)

PLAYING HURT: 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?

For more information about Holly go to hollyschindler.com  Holly’s blog: hollyschindler.blogspot.com, Twitter: @holly_schindler, and Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor

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