Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Author Interview with Ann Redisch Stampler!

It is my great pleasure to share with you an interview with Where It Began author, Ann Redisch Sampler!  Ann was gracious enough to share her answers to some questions I thought her readers would like to know about her and her book.   (See my review of Where It Began here.)

Bio from her Goodreads page: "Where it Began marks the YA debut of Ann Redisch Stampler. She is the author of several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books and an honor book, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann has two adult children and lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband." 

Readergirl: What was different about writing YA opposed to other types of stories you've written?
Ann: When I started Where It Began, I thought that the most clearcut differences between writing novels and writing picture books would be the obvious ones: voice and wrangling all the episodes with reasonable pacing given the sheer length. But it turns out that writing YA is much more emotional for me than writing picture books. I find myself inside the characters, feeling their feelings.

Readergirl: What drew you to the YA market?
Ann: I didn't really sit down and make a decision to write YA. But while I was thinking about writing a novel, Gabby's voice and character just kind of arrived, and her story emerged.


Readergirl: This story is an emotional one to read. How emotional was the experience of writing this book for you?
Ann: It was extremely emotional. I felt, at times, as if I was channeling Gabby, and the issues of feeling absolutely inadequate, obsessive love and betrayal became vivid and immediate for me.

Readergirl: What has been the most challenging aspect of writing and publishing Where It Began?
Ann: The process of rewriting is extremely challenging for me. Also, moving back and forth from past to present can be difficult to navigate. And I'm having exactly the same challenges with the second book, that I just finished revising.

Readergirl: What has been the most rewarding experience since the book was published?
Ann: I find it particularly moving when readers let me know that they've connected with the book, that there's something about it that has particular resonance for them.

Readergirl: Do you have any favorite authors or stories that have inspired you as a writer?
Ann: I hope this doesn't sound stupid or pretentious or some horrible combination of the two, but everything I've ever read has had some impact on me as a writer. I really do believe that you bring everything to the table. (Or in my case, the white couch where I sit and write.)

Readergirl: What would be your advice to aspiring writers?
Ann: I wish I had something new to say here, but in the vast universe of writing advice, here are a few of the bits that have been most useful to me:
  • Read a lot. I know, duh. But read a lot, in and out of your own genre.
  • Jane Yolen's classic admonition, "butt in chair." 
  • Not saying that it can't be head-bangingly frustrating and difficult at times, but make sure you love the process as opposed to being focussed on the notion of how it will feel to have a published book. (It's fine to love the idea of publishing a book, I certainly did, but there are a lot of other avenues for creative expression if the actual process of writing the damn thing doesn't make you happy.) Writing is time-consuming and essentially solitary, and unless you're John Updike -- who supposedly graduated from college, sent his first story off to the New Yorker, and was brilliant ever after -- there's a certain amount of rejection involved. Make sure this works for you. 
  • Even on days when you don't like what you're writing, keep putting words on the page. There will be a sentence, or an idea, or a word, or a rhythm it was worth getting out there. I don't mean this metaphorically, I mean this literally.

Readergirl: Are there any ongoing appearances or book signings you'll be taking part in that your readers might like to know about?
Ann: I'll be signing Where It Began at the American Library Association conference in Anaheim on Sunday, June 24th, from 4:30-5:00, at the Simon & Schuster booth #2600-2601. I'd would love to meet the bloggers and YA book people I only know online!

Also, if anyone is a picture book lover attending BEA, I'm signing my new picture book, The Wooden Sword (Albert Whitman, 2012) in the autographing area from 3:00 - 3:30 on Wednesday, June 6.

Readergirl: Can you give us any hints about your next YA project?
Ann: Happily! It's another contemporary set in Los Angeles, that centers on an intense friendship between two very different girls, and a series of pacts and promises that bind them together through most of high school, until the night when everything falls apart.

And, for readers not in the Billy Nash fan club, finally a boy you don't want to punch in the eye. (Mostly.)

Thank you once again to Ann Stampler for taking time to share her answers with me on this interview!  If you have not yet read Where It Began check it out!!


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