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Interview with Middle Grade & Young Adult author Krista Van Dolzer

Krista Van Dolzer is a stay-at-home mom by day and a children’s author by naptime. If someone had told her back in high school that she’d get a degree in math or English, she would have guessed English, no question, so of course she holds degrees in Mathematics Education and Economics from Brigham Young University. She lives with her husband and three kids in Mesquite, Nevada, and enjoys watching college football and researching her ancestors. She is the author of a forthcoming-but-as-yet-untitled debut (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015) and the forthcoming DUEL/DUET (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Fall 2015).

VanDolzerKrista

For what age audience do you write?

I write both middle grade and young adult across several genres. My debut is historical science fiction, and DUEL/DUET is contemporary. Both of those are MG, but my latest is YA contemporary, so I’m kind of all over the place:)

Henry: We would expect no less from someone who cannot decide between English and Mathematics. ☺

Tell us about your latest book.

My debut hasn’t come out yet–it doesn’t even have a title–but it should come out sometime toward the beginning of next year. I have a longer summary on my blog, but suffice it to say that it’s about a twelve-year-old girl who, through a series of scientific shenanigans, ends up meeting and befriending a Japanese boy. Since the story is set in small-town America in the 1950s, their friendship ruffles quite a few feathers.

Henry: How about “Small-town Scientific Sausage Shenanigans” as the title? You’re welcome.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

That we’re all different, that those differences should never be used as a reason to treat one another unkindly, and that pork links are capable of bringing people together (unless, of course, they’re vegetarian).

Henry: Indeed, pork links remind us to stop the senseless violence against plant life.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Every aspect? Is that an acceptable answer? The truth is, I struggle with something new every time I sit down to write. (Lately, I’ve been having a tough time with line editing, but if you ask me next week, I’m sure I’ll have a different answer.) I know that’s kind of cliché, but it’s true.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Stop listening to advice. Writing is such a personal thing, and the only person who can teach you how to write is you. You have to read, of course–in fact, I daresay you have to read more than you write, at least at first–but aside from that, you just have to stick your butt in that chair and figure things out for yourself.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I don’t eat, drink, or listen to music when I write, ever. I think most writers would find all three of those strange.

Henry: What about pork links!?

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

It’s not really a superpower, but I’d love to borrow Hermione’s Time-Turner sometime.

Henry: Being able to slow or stop time is the most popular response to that question by authors.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

As my introduction mentioned, I really like watching college football (and tennis!) and researching my ancestors. I’m a budding genealogist, so I like digging through old census records for fun. (For the record, the 1900 United States Census is my all-time fave).

Henry: Genealogy is fun. I found relatives we didn’t know about and uncovered family relationships with mayors, presidents, Ralph Lauren, and Madeleine L’Engle.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“Loving wife, mom, and friend.” Boring, I know, but those are the only things that really matter, right?

Henry: Agreed. But there’s no law that says you cannot have a pork link also engraved on the tombstone.

Where can readers find your work?

It was a trick question! Krista’s books aren’t out (yet!), but if you keep an eye on her blog and Twitter feed, you’ll be the first to know once they are!

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with Middle Grade & Young Adult author @KristaVanDolzer at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-EK via @Nimpentoad


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Interview with Christine Kohler, YA author of ‘No Surrender Soldier’

Christine Kohler is a graduate of the University of Hawaii. The characters and premise for NO SURRENDER SOLDIER grew out of her experiences living in Japan and Guam. Kohler was a political reporter and foreign correspondent for the Pacific Daily News, a Gannett paper covering the West Pacific.

KohlerChristine

Tell us about your latest book.

NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is a historic YA-crossover novel published by Merit Press (Adams Media/F+W Media). It takes place during the Vietnam War, 1972, on Guam. A 15-year-old Chamorro boy, Kiko, discovers that his mother was raped by a Japanese soldier during WWII. What he doesn’t know is that a WWII Japanese soldier is hiding in the jungle behind his house. The story is told in two points of views between the Chamorro teen and the WWII soldier. NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is based on a true event and soldier in history who hid on Guam for 28 years rather than surrender or commit suicide.

What aspect of world-building do you find most challenging?

The biggest challenge is in revision, deciding what to cut and where to weave, so the descriptions, settings, and historical and cultural background don’t overwhelm or get in the way of the story. There’s nothing worse for a reader than background or info drops stopping the action and plot from moving forward.

What memorable experience would you have not had if you hadn’t been a writer?

Flying into Johnston Atoll with a gas mask and hypodermic needle and antidote to tour the first incineration of WWII chemical weapons brought out of East Germany when the wall was torn down. Flying in a hot air balloon. Interviewing politicians, sheiks, human shields, negotiators, and refugees, plus a lot of regular folks with interesting life stories.

Henry: Ah, but have you ever interviewed a sheik in a hot air balloon? You know they frown on hypodermic needles near hot air balloons. ☺

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Study your craft. Write the story and don’t worry about whether it will sell. Revise deeply. Submit. Shrug off rejections. Persevere.

Henry: So true. Improve, be resolute, be indefatigable.

Do you have a favorite quote?

This is one I often quote: “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Gene Fowler

However, this one best applies to how I wrote my novel NO SURRENDER SOLDIER:
“For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain [and] the noise of battle.” – John Cheever

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I’d invite Herman Melville, Chaim Potok, and Graham Greene to dinner and listen to them discuss writing. I love how they layer their plots with history, politics, religion, and even sexual connotations.

Henry: I still have a children’s version of Moby Dick from when I was a young kid. I drew a sperm whale on the title page. I no longer draw in my books, which is just a little bid sad.

Per Wikipedia, “Chaim Potok (1929 – 2002) was an American Jewish author and rabbi. Potok is most famous for his first book The Chosen, a 1967 novel which was listed on The New York Times’ best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies.”

“Henry Graham Greene (1904 – 1991) was an English writer, playwright and literary critic. His works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene was noted for his ability to combine serious literary acclaim with widespread popularity. Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially the four major Catholic novels: Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair. Several works such as The Confidential Agent, The Third Man, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana and The Human Factor also show an avid interest in the workings of international politics and espionage.”

What would you like the epitaph to read on your tombstone?

She never missed a deadline.

Henry: Well, I hope you’re late for that deadline. ☺

Where can readers find your work?

Any bookstore or library. If not in stock, ask them to order my books.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.