Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Author Interview: Adele Griffin

Author Interview: Adele Griffin

Adele Griffin, two-time National Book Award finalist, likes writing YA stories set during summer vacation, a time (as she recalls it) of bad jobs, new friends, and sometimes an intriguing stranger. But as a kid, nothing tempted her more than ghost stories and mysteries. She also loved books about new girls — probably because her own family moved around a lot. What's that advice about writing what you know?!?

These days, Adele only writes at a certain desk! Must be a pretty charmed place because she's written many great books for teens and younger children. Check out our interview with her below and then come meet her at YALLFest!

We’re all excited that you're coming to Charleston for YALLFest! What made you decide to come?

I'm really excited, too! I'm looking forward to seeing my Picture the Dead partner in collaboration crime, Lisa Brown. And there are so many cool authors there, people I know from Goodreads or twitter or joint-promotion stuff. I'm excited to for-real meet them.
                                                                  Picture The Dead
Okay, and I'm also excited for Southern desserts. Brown-sugar walnut ice-cream! Coconut cake! Pecan pie! Bring it!

What got you into writing books for teens?

I landed my first job out of college working as an editorial assistant for Macmillan Children's Books. It was two blocks away from my first NYC mouse-infested apartment. Which I loved. And I was deathly afraid of the subway — I wanted to walk to work. Luckily I loved the job. So that was how I came into it.

How is writing for teens different from writing for younger children?

YA has become fascinating as a no-holds-barred genre. Realistic fiction speaks to such a variety of young people's issues. It's become very visible. In my latest book, Tighter, I've had more adults reading and commenting on the book than I'd ever experienced. And that's been different for me.

We especially love The Julian Game. How have readers responded to the book's message about the risks involved with social networking?
                                                                   The Julian Game
It's been cool. Lots of online opinions on kind of book. I'm intrigued by what an "authentic online identity" really means. And how kids are navigating online media space. Social media can be generationally distancing, but the truth is you can also find out a lot about what today's kid is thinking about, reading, and responding to than ever before. And that's huge; that's so valuable.

How do your books reflect your own experiences as a teenager?

My "new girl" experience is always a part of my books. And best friendship. And my love of being scared. I was the girl who watched The Shining at midnight on Halloween night with my best friend at my grandparents' house in the country. I'm always having fun tapping into those high-pitched shriek-y moments.

Did you get along with your parents?

My mother and I have always been very close. I didn't know my dad very well. And my stepfather came into my life when I was 16. Each of those relationships is unique, and I've fictionalized them all, probably, in my writing.

Who did you look up to?

My grandmother was my school principal. Talk about an authority figure.

                                                                  Where I Want To Be
Are your characters modeled after your own experiences growing up?

Lots of times, yes. But I love writing about really on-the-edge girls. I liked to pretend I was on the edge, but mostly I was in the middle writing about the edge.

Are you especially similar to any one of your characters?

Lexie Livingston in my Vampire Island series is kind of a caricature of myself. Impulsive and dramatic and fretful.

You write so many diverse books. What’s next for you?

This has been my starts-and-stops year. Three manuscripts I got halfway through, then stepped away from. I'm writing a scary book now. It might be too scary for me. But I hope I finish it!

See you at YALLFest!

Yes! See you there, and my thanks to you for these questions!!!!

(Check out some of Adele's other books, including Where I Want to Be, Amandine,  and Dive. Remember to click on any title to reserve it at a CCPL branch!)

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