Holly Schindler is the author of the YA novels A Blue So Dark, Playing Hurt, and the upcoming Feral. Her newest novel, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is her middle grade debut.
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Alternately, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY started out as a picture book, actually. In that first draft, Auggie didn’t even have a name—we were just looking through her eyes as she described her Grampa Gus, a trash hauler who became a folk artist. But the editors who saw the earliest version of that book all said the concept of folk art was just too advanced for the picture book audience. The editors also indicated they felt the writing was strong; I was encouraged to turn the book into a middle grade novel. Turning a 1,000-word story into a roughly 45,000-word novel wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. The story was relatively small when it was a picture book—it was simply a description of Gus and his work. To make it a novel, I had to invent secondary characters and subplots and figure out how the concept of folk art could become a series of events that built to a rising climax.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
Even though the book started out as a picture book, the original title was very similar. The first title was THE JUNK-TION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY. (It was actually the title it was acquired under at Penguin.) It referred to a nickname Auggie’s house gets after decorating the yard and home with her own original folk art. Penguin’s concern was that “Junk-tion” was tricky because it wasn’t an actual word, and only had meaning once you’d read the book. We played with several different titles, but my editor, Nancy Conescu, missed the sound of the original title. In the end, we opted to change the spelling of “Junk-tion.”
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Many people dream of their ideal jobs while working somewhere less desirable to make ends meet, never realizing what great experience those jobs of necessity are for their future. What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
Honestly, I work really hard at learning from each book I read. EVERY author has their own talent, whether it’s realistic dialogue or fantastic plot twists or humor…I know how much work it is to sell a book, and I know how much work goes into a book once it’s acquired. I ask myself why an agent wanted to rep the book, why an editor wanted to work on the book for eighteen months or so. And I let each author teach me a thing or two as I read his or her work…
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?I was really lucky; my mom encouraged me to stay home to devote full-time attention to my writing as soon as I graduated with my master’s. But even though I didn’t have to seek full-time employment, I still wanted to pay my bills…So I started teaching music out of the house. It was the perfect setup: I’d write all morning and into the early afternoon. When kids got out of school, I started teaching lessons.I was shocked, though, at how similar those kids were to the kids I’d known in school! They actually inspired me to try my hand at writing juvenile work (I’d only written adult work before that). I never would have written for kids had I not taught those lessons. (That just goes to show you how important it is to continue to have new experiences—you never know how it’s going to find its way into your work.
YES. So much of the writing life is filled with “no”s—rejections from editors and agents, less-than-glowing online reviews, libraries that don’t feature your work, bookstores that turn you down for events…YES becomes a musical word! (You also wind up appreciating the positive people and events in your life with an intensity that you might not have, had you not heard all those “no”s!)
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Writing certainly is a fabulous escape—you’re in complete control of the world on your page, which never happens in real life. And music—I’m a total music junkie; it’s my favorite “reset” button…