Anyone who's been reading my blog a while, or following me on Twitter, will know that Sarah Skilton's Bruised is one of my favourites of the year. You can imagine my excitement when I lined up an interview with her!
1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
I hope teenagers of both genders will pick it up, because first and foremost it’s a book for them. I also picture adults enjoying it. I know several young adult authors in Los Angeles, and in the Lucky 13s (a group of 2013 debut childrens’ authors) so it makes me smile to imagine us all picking up each others’ novels at bookstores.
2. Imogen is probably my favourite narrator of the year so far - who's the best narrator you've ever read about?
Thank you! I adore Francie Nolan, the young protagonist of Betty Smith’s classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, though her story is technically told in 3rd person omniscient. It takes place in the early 1900s, but I believe Brooklyn is a universal coming-of-age tale any generation can relate to.
More recently, and to more accurately answer your question about narrative voice, I was riveted by the twisted husband-and-wife narrators of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl; both characters are sharp and clear and fresh.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is one I've been meaning to read for ages, while Gone Girl looks great as well.
3. Another really strong part of Bruised for me was Imogen's family, and the difficult relationships she had with her brother and father, especially the way they changed over the course of the novel. Who are your favourite fictional family?
As a kid, I adored the family in the Animal Inn series by Virginia Vail. There was 13-year-old Val, her little brother Teddy, their father the town vet, and their Mennonite housekeeper. They were a loving, adventurous, and fair family--and I was jealous of Val for getting to be around so many dogs and cats at her dad’s clinic.
4. I loved the discussion guide for Bruised on your website - really thought-provoking! Are you hoping that Bruised will be studied in schools?
Sometimes having books chosen for you by a teacher can take away the fun of reading, but other times it opens your eyes to books you might never have discovered otherwise. I’d be over the moon if kids studied it in schools, or perhaps for a summer book club. As a proud nerd, I actually loved the books I studied in school, particularly John Knowles’ A Separate Peace.
5. Which YA author would you most like your husband to saw in half? (I should point out to my readers that your husband is Los Angeles magician Joe Skilton, before they get the wrong idea!)
Ha! This sounds like a trick question…I plead the fifth. ;)
6. Bruised, published here just a few months ago, is your first novel. Is being a published author living up to your expectations, and is there anything you DON'T like about it?
For the most part it’s been dream-like. One moment I’ll remember forever was attending the ALA (American Library Association) conference in Seattle this past January. My incredibly supportive publisher, Amulet Books, arranged for me to sign my ARCs and participate in several presentations. I loved spending time with the talented people at Amulet, and as a bonus, my mother, a former librarian, came along for the trip as well. It was very special for me to share the experience with her.
As for downsides, I have to be careful about looking at rankings and reviews online because if I fall down the Internet rabbit hole, it’s difficult to climb back out. My computer is a force for good and also a force for evil time suckery that takes me away from working on my new novels.
I know what you mean about time suckery! I've been meaning to schedule this for about a week and keep getting distracted by Twitter...
7. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what's the soundtrack to Bruised?
I love this question!
I listen to music if I already know what my scene needs, or if I’m revising. For rough drafts or if I’m uncertain about the direction of a scene, I prefer silence. I did write down a soundtrack for the Bruised, though, and you’re the first person I’ve told!
Here it is. And if you’re familiar with the songs/lyrics, you’ll understand how they relate to the plot:
“Kiss with a Fist” by Florence and the Machine
“Tower of Learning” by Rufus Wainwright
“Stupid Girl” by Garbage
“Flux” by Bloc Party
“Blackbird” (Sarah Maclachlin cover)
“We Use to Wait” by Arcade Fire
“Happy Birthday to Me” by Cracker
“Just a Girl” by No Doubt
“I Can't Sleep Tonight” by The La's
That's an awesome soundtrack! I love Stupid Girl, Kiss With A Fist, Blackbird and Just A Girl, and will have to check out some of the rest.
8. If you could ask any other author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?
I would ask the brilliant Tana French why In the Woods has such a frustrating lack of closure at the end for both main plots! (Can you tell this haunts me?)
9. You mention on your website that you were a big X-Men fan in high school. Are you still a comics reader? Anything you'd particularly recommend, if so?
I don’t read comics much anymore, but I did enjoy Buffy Season Eight in comics form, and I’m starting to really appreciate graphic novels such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Hope Larson’s Mercury and Chiggers.
I've been rereading Buffy Season Eight, which I didn't get too far with originally due to time constraints, and am enjoying it at the moment. Glad you liked it!
10. What's next for Sarah Skilton?
My next YA book, HIGH AND DRY, comes out Spring 2014 through Amulet Books. It’s a desert-set mystery about a high school soccer player, a boy this time, who’s framed for a stranger's near-fatal overdose, blackmailed into uncovering a missing flash drive, and pressured to throw the big game, all while trying to win back the girl of his dreams.
Sounds fab! Amulet are a great publisher - looking forward to reading it.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Sarah!
Bio: Sarah is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a fact that came in handy while writing her martial arts-themed debut YA novel, BRUISED. She and her husband, a magician, live in Southern California with their toddler son.