The wonderful Erin Entrada Kelly is at The Hiding Spot today to talk about her newest novel, Hello, Universe, respectful and honest representation, her process, and more!
I loved each of the main characters (Virgil, Valencia, and Kaori), but was especially charmed by one of the adult characters: Virgil’s grandmother. Can you share a bit about your inspiration for her character and her role in the story?
Sometimes parents can’t see their children for who they really are. Parents are preoccupied with other things – wanting what’s best for their kids, providing for them, protecting them as best they can. Lola is able to see Virgil just as he is. She is also the family storyteller, which is important in the book.Valencia is an independent, nature-loving girl and is deaf. I found your descriptions of the ways in which she experiences the world as a deaf individual to be very revealing and well done. Did you conduct research to ensure that her deafness was accurately represented?
Absolutely. When we write outside of our experiences, it’s our duty to make sure we conduct exhaustive research to make sure our representation is respectful and honest.Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
Before I started writing, I contacted the American Society for Deaf Children and was immediately connected to Gina Oliva, author of Alone in the Mainstream, and a well-known Deaf advocate. Gina and I became good friends. I also took an American Sign Language class through a local advocacy group, and the manuscript went through several reads with professors at Gallaudet University. And I read books—lots of them.
I gather thoughts and ideas in my head for a long time before I start writing. Once I have something I can work with, I write it down in a notebook. I write outlines—usually several—and then tackle the first draft. This all happens in a notebook first. I always start at the beginning and go from there. My outline inevitably changes as my characters take me in new directions.Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.
• Underdogs. I find people generally inspiring, but I have a soft spot for underdogs.My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
• Trees. I love trees.
• Children. They’re so much better than adults.
Wuthering Heights is my favorite book for escape. I love visiting the moors.What can readers look forward to next?
My next book should be released next year! Stay tuned.
More About the Book
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends -- at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
Buy a copy of Hello, Universe using the links below: