Friday, December 3, 2010

Author Interview: Risa Green

Yesterday I reviewed Risa Green's first YA novel, The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball.  Today Risa Green, author of Notes from the Underbelly and Tales from the Crib, has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions:

GJR:  As a successful author of fiction for adults, what made you decide to venture into YA?

RG: Even though my first book, Notes From the Underbelly, was an adult book, there was a teenaged character named Tick who was definitely my favorite character to write. I used to work as a high school counselor, so I feel like I’ve got a better understanding of teenagers than most thirty-something moms out there. So when it came time to write something new, I kept going back to Tick, and then I decided to just go for it and write a YA book. But given my background, I guess it was a pretty natural transition.

GJR:  Did the book-to-TV process with Notes from the Underbelly change your writing process at all? Do you approach things differently?

RG:  I don’t think that the book-to-TV experience with Notes changed my process at all. Notes happened to be a very episodic book; it was originally written as a series of essays which I then turned into a novel, and so because of that it just lent itself to a television series. But I don’t ever set out to write anything with the thought that oh, I should try to write it to become a movie or a TV show. I think that there’s something organic about writing a book, and sometimes books have a mind of their own and go in directions you don’t always anticipate as an author. If you try too hard to make it into something else, I think the quality of the book would suffer, and it would feel contrived. And honestly, it doesn’t even matter what I write, because between the TV writers and the producers and the network executives, it all gets changed so much that you can hardly even tell it was ever my book to begin with!

GJR:  What was the inspiration for making the focal point of the magic in the story a pink crystal ball?

RG:  The inspiration for the pink crystal ball actually came from my daughter. We were fooling around with a certain toy that rhymes with Tragic Great Call (follow me here), asking it questions about whether all of these amazing things would happen to us, and the toy kept giving us Yes answers. My daughter (who is eight) said, wouldn’t it be funny if all of these things really happened? And I had kind of an “ah-ha” moment, like, hey, that would make a really cool concept for a book!

GJR:  The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball is beautifully poised to become a series. When should we expect book two?

RG:  My hope is for this to become a series, but Sourcebooks, my publisher, hasn’t yet committed to that. So if you want to see another one, please email them and let them know!

GJR:  Will the pink crystal ball society expand with new members? Or is that too much information to give?

RG:  Maybe. Maybe not.

GJR:  Do you plan on going back to adult fiction between or after your YA series?

RG:  I will never rule out adult fiction. I have ideas for books all the time, and some of them are better suited to YA, while others would be considered adult. Right now I’d like to concentrate on YA for a while, but I definitely have a few adult novels festering in the back of my head.

GJR:  Who are your favorite authors to read? Why?

RG:  It’s funny, but when I read adult books, I tend to gravitate towards older male writers. I like Phillip Roth, Nick Hornby, Richard Ford, John Updike, and Wallace Stegner, to name a few. They all seem to write about men in some sort of mid-life crisis, though I’m not exactly sure why I’m drawn to that genre. I must have been a middle-aged man in a past life or something. But I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately, and I’ve really enjoyed some of Meg Cabot’s books, and I like Sarah Dessen a lot, too.

GJR:  What are you currently reading?

RG:  I’m currently reading Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. It won the Newbery Medal in 2006, and it’s unlike any YA book I’ve read. I’m also reading The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr.

GJR:  What author’s have influenced you?

RG:  In my YA writing, there’s no question that Judy Blume was my biggest influence. When I was a kid, there was just nobody else doing what she did, and it was really liberating to read about girls just like me, who had the same kinds of problems that I had. I was also very much influenced by The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (also a Newbery winner!). I was ten when I read it, and it was the first mystery book that I ever read, although it was really more of a puzzle than a mystery. I can still remember the exact moment when I figured it all out. I was very inspired by that book when I was writing The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball. I absolutely had it in mind when I came up with the clues that Erin’s aunt Kooky leaves her.

GJR:  What is your question for the pink crystal ball?

RG:  My question for the ball is, of course, will I sell lots of books!  :)

We want to thank Ms. Green for visiting with us.  Be sure to stop by later today for a chance to win The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball.



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