Today, I’m super-excited to have the fabulous Yvonne Prinz, author of ALL YOU GET IS ME and THE VINYL PRINCESS, to The Book Swarm. In her bio (on the HarperCollins site HERE), she says that her interest in writing was surpassed only by her interest in music. After years of working in the record business in one way or another, she and her husband founded Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent music store. When she returned to writing, she created the STILL THERE, CLARE series. Then came THE VINYL PRINCESS, a book with a girl who is as music-obsessed as her creator. Most recently, she released ALL YOU GET IS ME into the world (Check out yesterday’s post for my review of this most excellent book. I can’t link because I am computerless, trapped in DisneyWorld with a pack of 8th graders. Eep.).
And you can win ALL YOU GET IS ME, too! Trust me, you want to read this book. Enter today!
1. What character traits do you share or wish you shared with your main character, Roar?
I suppose writers often share a lot of traits with their main characters. Roar and I are both great at noticing the little things, we both love being in love, we both keep our heads in moments of panic. I think Roar is braver than I am, maybe a bit tougher, but the Roar at the beginning of the book is quite different from the Roar at the end of the book. I think I may be the Roar in the middle of the book. I loved how Roar grew and developed into quite an amazing person. Great character development!
2. You’ve said that All You Get Is Me was inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird. Could you explain a bit more about how it inspired you?
The need to stick up for the little guy has always been of vast importance to me. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout’s dad takes on an African American client, which goes against the ideals of the small Alabama town they live in. Scout is ready to stand up for her dad. In All You Get Is Me, Roar’s dad divides a rural California town by taking on a case on behalf of a Mexican Migrant farmworker. Roar reluctantly becomes involved as a witness but soon becomes passionate about it though she knows that it’s not going to do anything for her outsider status.
3. This novel also deals with farming practices and migrant workers. What drew you to this subject?
I’ve always been a supporter of family farms. Years ago, I started getting my produce from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) called Eat Outside The Box. Most of the produce comes from a unique organic farm called Knoll Farms, operated by Rick and Kristi Knoll. Rick is a scientist and the couple’s unorthodox approach to growing things really drew me in. I heard a story at a party (I think that’s where I heard it); Rick was driving his truck, weighed down with vegetables to one market or another and a woman impatiently passed him from behind and slowed down long enough to give him the finger. Rick was almost run off the road. I got a box of bumper stickers made up that that said “Be Patient. I’m growing food to feed your family”. I gave them out to every farmer I could find and I soon saw them on farm trucks all over the place. I know it wasn’t much but it was a small thank you. The farm and the Knolls inspired me to write the book.
You can’t delve into farm culture without seeing the illegal work force who cross the border hoping for work. Since I started the book, I’ve noticed things slowly changing in California. There are some devoted people working hard to get benefits and improve working conditions for undocumented workers. People need to understand that without this workforce, the produce doesn’t get picked. It’s as simple as that. Amen!
4. You’re co-founder of Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent music story. So, I’d love to know what you listen to when writing? Do you create soundtracks for all your novels?
Well, yes. The Vinyl Princess is basically one big soundtrack but near the end, Zach puts one together for Allie and you can get that one on Amazon.com HERE. There’s also a very cool one for All You Get Is Me. Just follow this link HERE.
I don’t always listen to music when I write because I find it so engaging that I’m distracted. I often listen to music when I should be writing, more often than I’d care to admit.
5. What’s your writing routine?
I don’t really have one. I’m always amazed at the authors who sit down and write at a certain time every day and churn out these hefty word counts and have time for a job and for all that social networking and raising kids and walking the dog. I write at a desk but that’s about as structured as it gets. I’ve actually sat down with the intention writing and then had to get in the car to go buy pens. I could not find one pen in my house that worked. Sometimes,when I see people writing away on their computers in coffee shops I feel guilty because all I’m doing is drinking coffee and watching them write.
6. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered since stepping on the writing path?
I’m amazed at how much the YA writing market has grown. Back when I started working on the first book of my middle grade series (Still There, Clare) You could fit the YA section of a bookstore into a phone booth. Now it’s massive. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The good news is that there’s a lot more to choose from but the bad news is that a young reader has to wade through a lot more to get to the good stuff. I’m not sure we need twenty-one vampire books on the shelf. I think we’re getting into a quantity over quality situation. I completely agree–love how there’s so much *more* great YA available than when I was growing up. Though, as you said, not all is quality.
7. What does your ideal writing space look like?
I always picture a roaring fire and weather of some sort out the window, usually snow, or maybe a seaside view in the off-season, so it’s cold. A dog, obviously, curled up in front of the fire, but a super-dog. One that knows how to stoke the fire and make hot cocoa and snacks. I would need a muse, of course, perhaps a frustrated painter who lives next door and stops by frequently to commiserate about how hard it is to create art and then he could sketch in a big chair while I read him a snippet of what I’m working on, which he’ll love, obviously. The room would be lined with big heavy bookcases filled with volumes of works by authors who are dead and that I have no intention of reading but just having them there in the room with me makes me feel successful. My pens would be magnificent and plentiful. Suffice to say, it would look nothing like the real place I write in.
8. Finish this sentence: When I’m not writing, I…
9. What inspires you?
Bus stations, airports, bodies of water, natural disasters, bad childhoods, old people who eat alone, great books, poetry (NOT all of it), art (definitely NOT all of it), addiction, nature, a perfect apricot, children explaining life to me, death (because the prospect of it forces you to live), movies and old movie theaters, old houses, activism, architecture, old rotting boats, live music, recorded music, The things people write on bathroom walls, postcards, and gravestones, rain, and love.
10. Favorite fuel for writing?
Coffee, lots of coffee. ONE glass of wine, not two. Anything you write on two glasses of wine you will delete the next morning, trust me.
11. What’s your biggest distraction when writing?
Hunger is what usually gets me away from my work.
12. Any reading recommendations for 2011?
I just this second finished a book called Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin which tore my heart out. Wow, he really knows how to open a vein. It’s not YA but it’s written from a 15 year-old’s perspective and I would give it to any teenager to read.
ALL YOU GET IS ME Giveaway!
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