WBBT Interview With Laura Amy Schlitz (School Librarian/Author) – Part Two
(CONTINUED FROM PART ONE)
Fuse #8: I keep asking you about future projects, which is probably a no-no. But have you been inclined to do any more biographies? “The Hero Schliemann” was such a great look at a, shall we say, less than perfect human being. Are you drawn more towards those people who have more than a teaspoon of nastiness in their souls or just people who have good stories?
LAS: There are a couple of other people I’d like to write a biography about—but they are odd ducks, every man Jack of them. As for nasty…Perhaps I’m drawn to slightly nasty people, because I find them easier to understand than the angelic kind.
Fuse #8: Unlike some authors, you actually interact with kids on a day-to-day basis, via your job. How much influence do they have over your work? For example, do you ever try out ideas on them out of curiosity? I know that “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!” came out of sensing a gap in the children’s literary canon. Does that happen often for you?
LAS: My schoolchildren have been a tremendous help to me in my writing. I tell stories, you know—mostly folktales; I often memorize four different stories a week. I tell the stories and I watch the children’s faces. I can see what they find funny or compelling or suspenseful, just as I can see when they get bored or lost. They’ve been teaching me to write for seventeen years.
As for gaps in the collection, I suppose I’m like all librarians—I don’t want there to be any gaps in the collection and I fuss when a child wants something we don’t have. (“Gracious! Why don’t we have any books about natural selection and head lice?”) But even though I fuss, I don’t always want to be the one to close the gap. Some subjects simply don’t interest me (drag racing). Others intrigue me, but I don’t see the story. For example, I love golden retrievers, but I don’t know what to write about them. The story doesn’t tell itself to me.
Fuse #8: Word on the street ("the street" in this case meaning "the interview conducted with you on the Cybil’s Award website last year") has it that you’ve been working on a Victorian Gothic, which sounds exciting. Word also has it that you are currently, “trying to write `a book about a fairy’ that will suit my future wild women of America.” Being that I love the word “fairy” alongside the term “future wild women of America”, may I ask how it’s going?
LAS: I have been working on a Victorian Gothic; I am working on a Victorian Gothic; I shall be working on a Victorian Gothic…I’m up to Chapter 26, but since I don’t know how many chapters there are, I can’t tell you when I’ll finish, or whether it will be published.
As for the fairy book, it’s finished. I’m hoping my future wild women will like it. I tried it out on a class last year, and one child (definitely a future wild woman) said, “Shoot me if there isn’t a sequel!” So I’m hoping for the best.
Be sure, if you get a chance, to visit the other interviews up on the following blogs today:
Perry Moore at The Ya Ya Yas
Nick Abadzis at Chasing Ray
Carrie Jones at Hip Writer Mama
Phyllis Root at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Kerry Madden at lectitans
Tom Sniegoski at Bildungsroman
Connie Willis at Finding Wonderland
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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