Ms. Penny Blubaugh is this blog's Author of the Month. She lends answers to questions I sent her through her website. It was so nice of Ms. Blubaugh to answer back. Visit her site and learn of the new book she wrote, Blood and Flowers. Here's hoping it's going to be available in Manila.
Where do you get the idea of merging old tales with new?
I've always loved fairy tales, especially the dark and scary ones. And I've always loved fairy tale retellings because the tales themselves, coming out of the oral tradition, are usually pretty bare bones. They leave a lot of room for interpretation, which makes them fun to play with. I think the Lizard's Tale was the first story that I did in this vein. I enjoyed looking at something as well-known as Cinderella from a new perspective -- and that poor Lizard! He never wanted to be a footman. Talk about being forced into a new persona!
How has writing Serendipity Market changed you as a person, librarian, writer?
It was a seminal book for me because it was *my first book*! The first time my name was on a cover. It was huge. It changed me from a writer who hoped to get published to a writer who was published. But when this happens it gives you a whole new set of things to worry about! At first you just want to get a book done. Then you want to get it published. Then you worry -- will it ever happen again? And then reviews start to come in. There's joy at the good ones, despair at the bad. It's a huge tangle of emotions. This all taught me that rejection cupcakes are always a valid option!
As a librarian the book opened doors for library programs with teens outside of my own space, and I love that.
Who has made the greatest impact on your writing life?
I think my whole MFA at Vermont College was life-altering. Several of my advisors, especially Chris Lynch, Chris Raschka and Ron Koertge were particularly amazing. Ron Koertge and I still chat on a regular basis and whenever I'm writing I hear him saying, "Take it out. You don't need it." Great for cutting out the unnecessary in any piece of writing.
Top 5 recommendations for teens.
I'm going to cheat. Here are 5 for girls, 5 for guys and 5 graphic novels. It's a fluid list -- it changes all the time because there are a whole lot of great books out there. So these are just some I've read or re-read and enjoyed.
Girls: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins; This Thing Called the Future by J. L. Powers; the Maggie Quinn From Hell series by Rosemary Clement-Moore; Star Crossed by Elizabeth Bunce; The Boneshaker by Kate Milford.
Guys: Inexcusable by Chris Lynch; The Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge; Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones; On the Devil's Court by Carl Deuker; Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford.
Graphic Novels: Smile by Raina Telgemeier: The Amazing Screw-On Head by Mike Mignola; Little Lit: Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies by Art Spiegelman; The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks; Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale. (Plus 1 more -- City of Spies by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan.)
Not necessarily the best of the best, not necessarily from the canon of YA lit, just some things I've enjoyed recently.
Thank you Ms. Blubaugh! Looking forward to reading Blood and Flowers.