Sonia Gensler, author of the YA novels The Revenant and The Dark Between, visits The Hiding Spot to today to discuss her newest novel, a MG horror novel called Ghostlight. In addition to talking a bit about the inspiration for the novel, her favorite word (which evokes deliciously dark and dreary images), her many (intriguing!) works in progress, and more!
Following the interview, be sure to enter to win a finished copy of Ghostlight!
Ghostlight centers around three kids making a ghost movie in a derelict old house—a house that may actually be haunted. I like to think of the story as The Haunting meets Super 8, as it certainly was inspired by classic and contemporary horror films. From the start I knew it would feature middle grade characters, perhaps because I wanted to focus on family and friendships rather than romance. It was very gratifying to explore these relationships in the context of a mysterious and at times horrifying filmmaking adventure.
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
I am very much a planner. I take scads of notes and outline like crazy—it’s probably part of my tendency to procrastinate, but I really do feel more comfortable facing the terrifying prospect of drafting when I have a roadmap to follow. The map may change along the way, but at least I have a clear sense of where I should go for the next few chapters. After finishing a first draft (which always feels like a MIRACLE), I often do a reverse map of sorts—tracking certain plot/character/theme points throughout the story in order to enhance continuity and flesh out spotty details.What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
Before throwing myself into full-time writing, I was a teacher. I taught writing and literature at the college and secondary level for ten years. Those days were glorious but quite exhausting to an introvert like me. And as testing became more of a priority in the classroom, I found myself yearning to retire to a quiet place to write. I still love to visit classrooms and talk to students. The passionate young writers of my teaching days truly inspired me to take risks and ignore the naysayers—I owe them a lot.If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
“Gothic” is a very favorite word of mine, because I love its history as a category of fiction. I love its complexity as a descriptor of all sorts of dark tales, and how it has spawned various subcategories such as Southern Gothic, Gothic Steampunk, and more. Most of all I love the iconography of classic Gothic—gloomy skies, dark and looming mansions, serpentine passageways, hooded figures in flowing capes, and all that delicious stuff!My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
This is a tough one. There are many books that I have read again and again because I feel safe within them—the works of C.S. Lewis, Edward Eager, and L.M. Montgomery, for instance. The Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy Sayers are also hiding spots for me—every 2-3 years I re-read Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, and Gaudy Night and they never fail to satisfy. Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle is another—and I think I’m about due for a re-read of that one. What a delightful realization!What can readers look forward to next?
There’s nothing firm to report at this time, because I am terribly slow with writing. I will say, however, that I am having enormous fun working on a Gothic historical. (Dark doings in a remote country house, and all that jazz—my favorite sort of thing!) I would also love to write more about Avery Hilliard, for I can think of several more adventures she might have. And somewhere in me is a 1930s romantic caper that really wishes I would get back to it.
About the Author
Sonia Gensler is also the author of the young adult novels The Dark Between and The Revenant. She grew up in a small Tennessee town and spent her early adulthood collecting impractical degrees from various Midwestern universities. A former high school English teacher, she now writes full-time in Oklahoma. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit soniagensler.com.
About the Book
Things that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!
Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.
Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.
As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?
One winner. Open to US only. Ends 10/5/2015.
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Mon, Sept 14
Cracking the Cover
Tues, Sept 15
Ms. Yingling Reads
Wed, Sept 16
Thurs, Sept 17
The Book Smugglers
Fri, Sept 18
Mon, Sept 21
The Hiding Spot
Tues, Sept 22
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The Book Monsters
Fri, Sept 25
Mon, Sept 28
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Tues, Sept 29
Kid Lit Frenzy
Wed, Oct 1
Mother Daughter Book Club