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Monday, January 4, 2010

Interview with Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn

Welcome to today's stop on Lisa Schroeder Blog Tour for CHASING BROOKLYN! Lisa Schroeder is the author of numerous books for kids and teens. Her first novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was a 2009 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Her highly anticipated novel, CHASING BROOKLYN will be in stores tomorrow, January 5th. It is a story about two teens, Brooklyn and Nico, the ghosts who are haunting them, and how they must learn to let each other in, or not one soul will be able to rest. Lisa stopped by to talk with us about CHASING BROOKLYN. Let's get started!

Your third novel for teens, CHASING BROOKLYN is a novel in which you explore issues of loss, romance and ghosts. It is also set out in verse format, which is a common theme in your novels. Can you share with us a teaser from Chasing Brooklyn or give us some fresh insight into the characters of Brooklyn and Nico?

Sure! Here is a short excerpt:

Tues., Jan 10th – Nico

To say it’s difficult

being the son left behind,

especially when the one who died was the favorite,

is like saying running makes me happy.

Running doesn’t just make me happy.
Running keeps me alive.

When I’m running,

the blood pumping through my veins,

the tunes playing in my ears,

the muscles tightening on the inclines,

the problems of the world disappear.

It’s just me, the sidewalk, and God.

When I leave the sidewalk

and walk into my house,

it all changes.


Almost impossible.

CHASING BROOKLYN is told from the alternating points of view of Nico and Brooklyn, two people who have lost loved ones and fear they are now being haunted. Can you discuss with us the challenges of this writing style and how the decision to do so came about?

I think writing a dual narrative can really add a lot of depth to the book. The problem is that it’s hard! You suddenly have two character ARCs to worry about instead of one, so it’s a little bit like writing two books at the same time.

As far as how I decided to do it that way, I actually had only had one point of view at first, but a ways into it, I decided two made more sense and sort of started over and added in a boy’s voice. I think it came about when I realized there would be two ghosts haunting in this book, and it made sense to hear from each character about what that experience was like. It also made sense because people deal with grief differently, and I wanted to really show the differences through the stories of the two characters.

Revisions were challenging, but I’m really pleased with how the book turned out, so although there were times I second guessed the decision, I’m really glad I persevered.

What type of research did you do to prepare for writing CHASING BROOKLYN? Was there anything particularly shocking or extremely interesting that gave you pause for reflection in the course of your examinations?

The two main characters decide to train for a sprint triathlon, so I had to do some research around that. I work with someone who does a couple of these races a year, so it wasn’t new to me. But I needed to find out some details, like how people train for them, some lingo that might come up when talking about such a race – stuff like that. The only thing particularly shocking to me is that people are able to be so dedicated to train for a race like that. For an instant, I thought, I should try it! I should do a sprint triathlon! Then the cookies called to me, and I decided maybe it’s not my thing after all.

What is one message you would like teens to take away from your book and possibly apply to their lives?

To be honest, I don’t really want my books to be message-driven, because that’s probably the surest way to turn teens off from a book. Ultimately, my goal is to tell a great story – one that touches your heart, makes you think a little, and of course, makes you hungry for another good story.

But I guess it would be nice if after someone’s turned the last page, she has a new appreciation of how precious life is. And perhaps realizes we shouldn’t take for granted those people in our lives who are important to us. Each day really is a gift, and we must try to make the most of each day we’re given. That’d be a nice takeaway, I think.

On your website you talk about how you enjoy going to schools to talk with kids and get them excited about reading and writing. Can you talk some more about your experiences with speaking events and share a special memory or two?

I haven’t done as many as I’d like to, mostly because I work a day job and don’t have the time to market myself and get myself out there. But I have done a few, and the one that really stands out in my mind is a writing retreat for eighth graders I attended. This fabulous school in Portland has teachers select the best writers and they’re nominated, so to speak, for this retreat. The thirty or so kids who attend are there because they want to be there.

We had a fun afternoon where I led them through some writing exercises, taking a break to walk on the beach for some inspiration, and then doing some painting later as well. It was just so fun to hang with them, talk about books they love, and hear and see their creative minds at work.

You have two other novels geared toward teens, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and FAR FROM YOU which both deal with issues of death and ghosts. What type of feedback do you receive from readers regarding the issues in your novels? Has there been anything which someone shared that particularly resonated with you?

A lot of kids write to me letting me know that my books have helped them to appreciate their loved ones more. I think it’s easy to take people for granted, and my books perhaps remind us that you never know what might happen tomorrow. So today, be thankful for those close to you.

I’ve had a few people let me know that after losing someone, my books have helped them. One young man said, “Your book helped me feel a little less alone in the world.”

I think when we write, we often hope that’s what will happen. So that comment is one that has stayed with me.

Next year you have a picture book, a mid-grade novel, and a YA novel all being released. Can you tell us more about these upcoming projects?

I actually started out writing picture books, and the one being released next year is one I sold like five years ago! It took awhile to find the right illustrator, and then once we found her (Lisa McCue) it took another little while for her to get this book into her schedule. But I’m very excited about how it’s turned out – it’s called LITTLE CHIMP’S BIG DAY and is about a small chimp who gets separated from his mother and we see him having all kinds of adventures in the jungle without her.

IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES is the name of my mid-grade novel that will be coming out in March, and I’m really excited about it. Although I love YA novels, I have a special place in my heart for mid-grades. My fondest memories of books growing up are during those mid-grade years, so I’m just REALLY happy I get to have a book out for that age group. The cover is cute and pink and it has CUPCAKES on it!! It’s about a girl, Isabel, who has never been out of her home state of Oregon and dreams of traveling the world. When she finds out there’s a baking contest and the finalists get to travel to New York, she knows she has to enter. But of course, nothing is easy, and her mother, who is opening a cupcake shop, has a different idea as to the kind of recipe Isabel should enter. It’s a book about family, friendship, and dreams – my favorite kind!

And of course, there’s CHASING BROOKLYN, which is a companion novel to I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, and is another ghostly tale.

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to do the interview. Tomorrow Lisa will be visiting The Story Siren, so be sure and stop by!


Restless souls and empty hearts

Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

Lisa lives with her family in Oregon. You can visit her on the web at lisaschroederbooks.com.



Tales of Whimsy said...

Oh my! This sounds wonderful. I'm off to add it to my TBR list. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Unknown said...

I second what JuJu said. This book sounds great, I hadn't heard of it before! Thanks for a fabulous interview!

misskallie2000 said...

I had not heard of this book but It really sounds like a great read.
Great review..

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Excellent interview--both the questions and the answers. I love Lisa's response about messages and how she would like her books to bring new appreciation for how precious life is.