Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview with a Renaissance Woman!

Writing Song of the Day: "Go Girl" by Ciara (check it on on our Rock With Us tab)

Do you have that person that you meet and you're just like: "Man! I really want to be her/him!" Well, me and Pam met a few of those people during our eventful weekend at the James River Writers Conference. Besides meeting the ever so awesome-tastic Lauren Oliver...we were able to be in the graces of author extraordinaire Jacqueline Woodson. Don't worry, I'm not going to spend this entire post telling you how awesome she is. I'm going to give you a summarized version of the hour long interview that I witnessed.

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of middle grade and young adult novels, picture books, poetry, and she divulged that she is now writing a stage play. Don't you want to grow up and be just like her??? Some of her most famous YA titles are After Tupac and D Foster, and Miracle's Boys (made into a mini-series on the N network and an episode was even directed by Spike Lee!). Her award winning MG books consist of Feathers and Peace Locomotion. Woodson has won numerous awards for many of her novels, including the National Book Award, the Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Award, and the Newberry Honor Medal. Click here to see a full description of the awards she has won (too many to name!)

From the extraordinary Woodson, I learned a few things. Like to hear it? Hear it goes!

The difference between MG and YA: MG- more exploration and interest in the external world, YA- internal and relationships are extremely important- characters are usually more selfish. Everything is immediate and urgent with MG, and with YA while things are still urgent you have more time to deal with the issue.

An example that she gave from her own books shows this difference:

MG- Feathers: the opening is more concrete (a new boy comes into class and the protagonist notices)

YA- Behind You: the opening is more abstract (the beginning sequence doesn't provide anything grounded or tangible)

Dating Your Material: Woodson tries to leave out technology, name brands, fashion (just say black slacks instead of a certain style), slang, informal language etc. because she feels it dates her material. It will make her novels irrelevant in the future. Woodson says to create deep and complicated characters and you will have no problem with your book always resonating with the youth.

On Writing Fantasy: Woodson feels it is too hard and she doesn't understand it. She likes to borrow from friends and family to write about this world. She is all about realistic fiction.
Diverse Characters: She started only writing from the female, African American POV- but realized that she could do more with her imaginary characters. She delved into writing from a white, female POV first and then moved into male POV...she even wrote a book with no major female characters at all (Miracle's Boys) and eventually wrote a transgendered character. (Did we say we freakin' HEART her???).

On Revising: Woodson shared that she revised one of her novels 50 TIMES! Yes, 5-0 times. She says that if she is reading out loud, she sometimes still revises and changes her sentences around. She likes to read out loud to edit and gives her manuscripts to three different people to read. Woodson also still takes creative writing courses if it is being taught by someone she respects as a writer.

On New Projects: Woodson always works on more than one books at a time (YAY! Now I don't feel so ADHD when it comes to my writing) and if nothing comes to her, she reads to get inspiration.

So, you've now read this post about Renaissance woman, and award winning author Jacqueline Woodson...

If you do not want to write your WIP, revise your manuscript, or read some books, you are not a true YA writer/reader/lover! Visit Ms. Woodson's site and check out all of her cool-rificness ;)

Tell us are you all fangirl/boy over an author that you read about/seen in an interview?


KO said...

Ahh, I feel like I am not worthy! She is such a renaissance woman.
I once saw David Sedaris and David Rakoff read from their books together and it was so amazing. They didn't talk about writing, just read stories, but it was magical.
Jennifer Weiner is coming to my school soon, and I'm thinking about going... but not sure. I haven't read her, so I'm not sure.

Amie Kaufman said...

I can see why you were so impressed! I fangirl madly over Laurel Snyder, a MG author whose style I love. (She replied to my tweet! Be still, my beating heart!)

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Gah! I WISH I'd gone to this con! It sounds amazing, and it was driving distance... I just totally missed that it was happening until during, sigh.

This is a great post, thanks for sharing what you learned!