Friday, June 18, 2010

Caroline Hickey talks to us about dogs, blogs and high school!

Today we are very excited to bring you our interview with local author Caroline Hickey. The Metro D.C. area is home to some amazing talents in YA literature and Ms. Hickey is one of them. She is the author of Isabelle's Boyfriend (which we've featured on this blog before) and Cassie was Here. She is one of those authors who really knows how to transport her readers into the awkward, hilarious, epically angsty world of teenagers. She's also one of the authors of the excellent YA blog "The Longstockings" which you may remember from this post . We had the lucky opportunity to ask her questions about her high school experience, her writing process and her Bichon Frise!

-- Would you mind giving us a quick synopsis of "Isabelle's Boyfriend?"
The book is about what love is REALLY like when you’re fifteen. That means it’s messy, awkward, frustrating, embarrassing, and ultimately does not end in happily ever after. A lot of young adult books portray relationships that I think are way more mature than the ones most teenagers actually have.

-- One of the things that I really liked about "Isabelle's Boyfriend" is that it dealt with some of the real problems in high school, the ones that seem really small looking back on them, but at the time seemed HUGE and like the end of the world (basically). To get all those details right, did you call on high school experience, research, or did you totally pull them from your imagination?
Lots of imagination mixed in with some experiences my friends and I had in high school. PS – I was not the boyfriend stealer!

-- Were you at all like Lila, Isabelle or Taryn in high school?
I had a little bit of all three in me. Mostly Taryn, but I could be an Isabelle on my not so nice days.

-- Have you ever had a Bichon Frise?
Yep, her name was Sophie and she was my childhood dog. We had her for almost 14 years and she’s buried under a tree in my parents’ front yard.

-- In our TAB high school group they've talked about how they find it easy to identify with awkward situations in novels and it can be almost painful to read them; is it any easier to write them?
No, they’re very difficult to write, because I love my characters and I hate putting them in horrible, humiliating situations. Also, I have draw on my own personal experiences of humiliation to be able to write those scenes, and I’d really rather forget them!

--Which character in "Isabelle's Boyfriend" was your favorite to write?
Camille the dog. Also, Pete, because he’s the boy that maybe isn’t so exciting to girls when they’re 15, but will grow up to be a good guy.

-- We've talked about your blog, "The Longstockings" here before. It brings together you, Coe Booth, Daphne Grab, Lisa Greenwald, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. Why did you guys all decide to do a group blog instead of having individual ones?
It’s much easier! We take turns writing for the blog and sharing our experiences as working authors with our readers. We’ve been a writing group together for many years so it’s easy for us to work together online, and it also keeps us all close even though we’re not all in the same city anymore.

-- What is your favorite subject to blog about?

The hard parts of writing. It’s such a solitary profession and you have to be your own constant cheerleader, even when the going gets tough, so it helps me to vent about it online.

-- Is it very different writing for the blog than writing for a book? Is it weird, as an author of books, to talk directly to your audience?

It is very different, but it’s refreshing to be able to blog my own thoughts rather than write through the voice of my characters.

-- Can you give us any hints as to what you are working on now?
I have two books in the works that I hope will be out very soon! One is teen and one is middle grade.

-- Do you have a favorite spot to write in? 

I love to write at the café in my local indie bookstore, Politics and Prose.

-- When you're writing, do you talk with teens or show them your drafts? 

I definitely talk to/observe teens, but I don’t show them my drafts. The only people who see those are my writing group, my agent, and my editor.

-- What has been the most exciting part about having your first book published? 

My first book was Cassie Was Here in 2007, and I’d say the best part was walking into a bookstore and seeing it on the shelf.

-- Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to become a writer?
There wasn’t one particular moment, no. It was an accumulation of years of being a devoted reader and a dabbling writer, and finally one day I just decided to see if I could make it happen.

-- Do you have any advice to give to our teens who enjoy writing or who might want to become an author one day?
READ READ READ and WRITE WRITE WRITE. You’ll never succeed unless you do both tirelessly.

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