Interrogation—Maria Alexander

Who: Maria Alexander

What: Maria Alexander is a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning and Anthony Award-nominated author of both YA and adult fiction. She’s also a student of Japanese swordsmanship. She lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats, a Jewish Christmas caroler, and a purse called Trog.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Congrats on your recent Bram Stoker Award! Can you tell us a little about SNOWED?

SNOWED is a YA paranormal mystery about the teen skeptic Charity Jones who discovers she should not only believe in certain Christmas myths, but she should be afraid of them.

What went into creating Charity Jones?

Charity is today’s teen. Because of her racial background, her family’s dysfunction, and her intellectual gifts, she’s got a lot to deal with. But throw in the complicated business of online life and the resulting information overload, and teens today have way more to process today than I did when I was in high school.

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Interrogation—Hector Acosta

Who: Hector Acosta

What: He was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States, his time living on the border left an impression on him, and much of his writing revolves around that area and its people. In his free time he enjoys watching wrestling and satisfying a crippling Lego addiction. HARDWAY is his debut novella.

Where: New York

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Congrats on the release of HARDWAY. What’s the story behind this story?

I had the basic concept—kids steal a wrestler’s championship belt and things escalate—banging around my head for a while, with the first draft being a 5k piece for a crime writing contest. By the time I finished it, I found myself having more to say, and that was right around the time that Shotgun Honey opened up for submissions, so I decided to go back to the story and see what I could produce without a word count restriction.

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Interrogation: Frank Portman

PORTMAN 1Who: Frank Portman (a.k.a. Dr. Frank)

What: The singer/songwriter/guitarist of the Bay Area punk band Mr. T Experience and the author of three young adult novels including most recently KING DORK APPROXIMATELY, a sequel to the coming of age cult classic KING DORK.

Where: San Francisco

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

You published your debut novel, KING DORK, in 2006. What made you want to write a Young Adult novel at that time? Do you think you will ever write a non-YA novel?

In 2004 my band released it’s final/most recent album and attempted to tour on it and promote it in the usual way, not realizing that in the time since the last time we’d done that the world’s music consumers had all gotten together and decided not to buy records anymore.  The tour disintegrated at the end as they always do, leaving me at a loose end and running out of ideas now that recording another essentially valueless album and touring to promote its valuelessness was out of the question despite it being pretty much the only thing I knew how to do.  Writing a YA novel was suggested to me by an agent who was a fan of my songs and who thought the sensibility in them could work in fiction.  I had nothing but time so I gave it a shot.

King_Dork_coverThere’s a lot of arguing over “what is YA” these days (similar to the “what is punk?” trope that used to bedevil me way back when.)  Teen fiction is certainly where I feel most comfortable, and is a logical place to go from rock and roll, which is teenage music if it’s anything.  As a frame for fiction, exploring the teenage self coming of age has a quite a bit going for it, as I am certainly not the first person to note.  And this tradition is a long and great one that I’m pleased to be a part of.  That said, what makes a book YA is that it is marketed that way.  I’m fortunate that this marketing has worked so well for my books, but even in a different marketing category I’d write them the same way.  Which is a roundabout way of saying, I guess, that I don’t see the great gulf between YA and “non-YA” that the question assumes.

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