Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day 8 - Shelley Hrdlitschka

Day 8. I hope that, over these two weeks, some of you discover a book or two that interests you, that you wish you'd known about when it came out, or that you wish you'd had when you were in high school. Or books that you'll be suggesting to someone who's in high school. ;)

Shelley Hrdlitschka currently lives in North Vancouver, BC. She discovered her love for children's literature as a teacher. This gave her the idea of writing her own books. All nine of her books for teens have been published by Orca Book Publishers. When not writing, she can be found hiking, snowshoeing, practicing yoga, or volunteering at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. Previously published novels include Sister Wife, Sun Signs, and . Her most recent YA novel, Allegra, came out just this past April. You can find her at her blog and also on Twitter (@SHrdlitschka). :)

Q: Since it's an event featuring Canadian authors, I figured I'd ask all the authors who chose the Q&A to say how they would count as a Canadian author, be it they were born here, lived here, or moved here. So, how Canadian are you?

A: I was born and raised in Canada, to Canadian parents and my grandparents were also Canadian. That’s pretty darn Canadian, eh?

Q: Do you have any kind of set writing schedule or process? Have you found you can write anywhere, or only in certain places at certain times of day?

A: On a perfect day I will rise early and get right to work writing. I will try to resist reading the newspaper or checking email or playing Words With Friends. Three or four hours of work is usually all I can manage, and then I have my afternoons to deal with correspondence and everything else. However, life is not perfect and often I have appointments or other things that need my attention in the morning so then I attempt to write in the afternoon or evening, but I am not as productive at those times. I usually write at my kitchen table as I have a nice view of my deck and all the birds at my birdfeeders. I have tried writing in coffee shops and enjoy the experience, but I’m still more productive at home, alone, and my dog appreciates my company.

Q: Your most recent book, Allegra, comes out in early April. Can you describe it? What inspired it? Was it a specific person or idea?

A: Allegra is about a Grade 12 student (named Allegra) who has just started attending a Fine and Performing Arts School. She is socially awkward but very talented, both as a dancer and a music composer. Not fitting in with the other kids she spends more and more time working on her music composition, and the young, passionate (and naïve) male teacher finds he can’t resist working on it with her as he admires her talent. Her feelings for him become inappropriate and she believes he also has feelings for her. Everything falls apart for both of them when she acknowledges her feelings to him.

I was inspired to write it as I like to explore those ‘grey’ areas in life. A relationship between a student and her teacher is clearly wrong, but I wanted to know… how does it happen? Why would a student or a teacher develop these kind of inappropriate feelings, and are they always inappropriate? Could there be exceptions? I got the idea from reading about teachers who have been caught in these kinds of relationships and I wanted to know how they evolved. I don’t believe that the majority of teachers have sinister motives, they just get caught up in something that is difficult to resist.

Q: Sister Wife has the feel of an important and very emotional book. How important was it to write this book? Why more than one perspective of the community? Why not just have Celeste's point of view?

A: I felt very compelled to write Sister Wife. I was reading about Bountiful (the polygamist community in BC) every day in the newspaper and wondered what it would be like to be one of those teen girls. I had three teen girls of my own at the time and could not imagine telling them who they had to marry, especially if it was an older man who was already married! I wrote the story from 3 different points of view as I felt it was important to try to understand how other people can believe such different things. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs however I do have objections with the adults in these communities when they don’t educate the children to understand that they have choices. If these girls decided to practice polygamy after fully understanding that there were different ways to live, that would be a completely different story. Again, I wanted to examine those ‘grey’ areas. (I wrote a post about that on my blog today.)

Q: Was it difficult to research polygamist communities for Sister Wife?

A: I did not actually visit a polygamist community before writing Sister Wife as I knew I would not be welcome there. However, I did read the accounts of many women who had lived in one of those communities and had escaped.

Q: Comparatively, how different or difficult was the research for Sun Signs?

A: No, the research for Sun Signs was not difficult, but I did have one of my daughters read the manuscript to make sure I got all the email jargon right. I also had fun researching astrology.

Q: After Allegra, what's next? Are you currently working on a new book?

A: I am working on what I am calling a ‘companion book’ to one of my earlier titles, Dancing Naked. At the end of Dancing Naked a baby is born to a 16 year old girl. For years I have been getting requests from teens to write a sequel to Dancing Naked, and although I don’t want to call this a sequel, the baby is now a teenager herself and struggling with the death of her adoptive mother. She is wondering about her birth mom, the girl from Dancing Naked. My new book (still untitled) is reintroducing some of the characters from Dancing Naked, but it will stand on its own. Dancing Naked has been, by far, my most successful book so I hope that by revisiting some of the themes I can write something that is thought-provoking to a whole new generation of teens.

Q: Do you have a favourite part of BC? Like, for example, those rare sunny days in the spring. Or is it a favourite part of Canada outside of BC?

A: I love being on the North Shore Mountains (of Vancouver). I am not a skier (anymore) or a boarder, but when I am snow shoeing, hiking or working as a volunteer at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife I feel like I am in a different world, so far away from the city. The air feels different, yet I know that the big city and all its amenities is just a short distance away.

Many thanks to Shelley for dropping by and taking part. You can go check out all of her books now! :)

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