I’m very pleased to have Lisa Schroeder here for an interview! Let me take this opportunity to say that I’m also planning on doing a series of interviews with Class of 2k8 authors as their books come out (if I read and enjoy the books and if the authors are interested, of course). Thanks, Lisa, for being the first! Lisa Schroeder is the author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me, a lovely and haunting love story.
I Heart You, You Haunt Me is a verse novel. Is there a particular reason you decided to tell the story this way?
- I love novels in verse. I think when you have an emotional subject, telling the story in verse is a powerful way to do it.
- I didn’t really plan to write the novel that way. When I sat down and started writing, that’s just how it came out. A couple of pages into it, which are now the very first pages, Ava described what she saw and felt as she walked into the funeral of her boyfriend. That’s emotional stuff, and that’s why the verse works well here. I also think, with the paranormal aspect, the verse creates an atmosphere I couldn’t have created in prose.
What did you find was different about writing a novel in verse as opposed to prose?
- Word choice is even more important in this kind of book. Finding unique ways of describing things is challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Of course I tried to use poetic devices throughout the book, and you aren’t going to do that in a novel with prose. Rhythm and pacing are important in any book, but it’s different in this kind of book. More time is spent reading passages aloud, perhaps, to see how it flows.
- Probably the hardest thing is that I wanted the book to be accessible, so teens would read it and enjoy it. It’s hard to balance the accessibility part with the poetry part. I hope I succeeded.
- There’s a long way to go from wanting to be a writer and actually having your novel on the shelves. Could you tell me a little about your journey to becoming a published author?I started writing and submitting for publication about seven years ago. I began by writing picture books, and went to conferences and studied the craft of books for younger children. Right around my 100th rejection on various stories, one of my picture book stories, BABY CAN’T SLEEP, sold to Sterling. As my children were growing, I began reading mid-grade novels again, sharing in that experience with my oldest son. I remembered how much I loved those books as a kid, and since the picture book market was having a tough time of it, I thought maybe I should try writing a novel. I was scared, but I also figured, what do I have to lose? It was exciting to have a new challenge. That mid-grade novel was the first of three novels I wrote, none of which ever sold. I think of them as my training books. With each one, I learned about writing a novel. I may go back and revisit one of them, and see if some revisions would make it more marketable, but we’ll see.
- When I started writing I HEART YOU, I had a feeling deep inside that this was something different, and was my best work yet. After many years of trying, I got an agent with this book and then she helped me sell it to Simon Pulse.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a published author?
- I love hearing from readers who enjoy my books. It’s so wonderful to have someone tell me that my book touched them in a special way.
- The hardest part is probably juggling everything. I’m glad I have an agent now so she can handle the business side of new books that I write, but the promotion stuff does take a lot of time. I have a day job and a family to care for, so sometimes it can get overwhelming trying to prioritize everything.
Why did you choose to write for teenagers? Do you write for or plan to write for other age groups as well?
- I am one of those writers who love books for all ages. I don’t see myself settling in one age group and staying there. The teen years were some of the happiest and scariest of my life, all at the same time. All of the firsts you experience as a teen – the first dance, the first kiss, the first drive – there’s nothing like it, and I love revisiting that time through my writing.
What was your inspiration for writing I Heart You, You Haunt Me?
- I had a dream about a girl whose boyfriend died, but he loved her so much, he couldn’t leave her behind, and returned as a ghost.
- I think Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT came from a dream, too. Do you think my book will be as successful as hers? :-)
What are you writing now?
I’m working on a novel in verse called LOST WITHOUT YOU. I don’t want to say too much about it, but I can tell you that instead of a ghost, an angel has a brief appearance.
What’s one interesting thing about you that not many people know?
- I love shopping at thrift stores and buy most of my clothes that way. Just recently I found this fabulous pink jacket with the Nordstrom price tags still it!
What are some of your favorite young adult books or authors?
- Oh, so many!!! John Green, Sarah Dessen, Markus Zusak, Maureen Johnson, , Cecil Castellucci , E. Lockhart, Sonya Sones. I could go on. My tastes run on the more literary side, I think.
Is there any question you wish I’d asked you?
How about – If they made I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME into a movie, and they asked you to play the role of Ava’s mother, who would you want to play her father?
John Cusack, all the way!
Thank you for having me here and for your thoughtful questions! I enjoy talking to people who love young adult literature as much as I do!
Thank you, Lisa!