Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Author Update: Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn is an award-winning young adult author. Her books include: Breathing Underwater (HarperCollins, 2001); Breaking Point (HarperCollins, 2002); Nothing To Lose by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins, 2004); and Fade To Black (HarperCollins, 2005). Alex is a former attorney who lives in a suburb of Miami.

We last visited Alex in 2003 when she shared the Story Behind the Story of Breaking Point and the Story Behind The Story of Breathing Underwater. (Note: my site is being redesigned in fall 2005, so if these links don't work, simply check the site guide and/or search engine).

What is new in your writing life since we last chatted?

Since we last chatted, I've published two new books, Nothing to Lose and Fade to Black. Nothing to Lose is about Michael, who runs away with the carnival to escape his mother's abusive marriage, then returns a year later to find himself involved in a murder trial. It was chosen a Booklist Top-10 Youth Mystery and is new in paperback. Fade to Black, my newest, is about a hate crime against an HIV-positive student, told in three viewpoints, victim, witness, and suspect. You can find discussion guides for both at my website, www.alexflinn.com.

Do you have a new/upcoming book(s) to tell us about?

Diva will be released in Fall, 2006. It's a companion to Breathing Underwater and deals with Caitlin, who has broken up with Nick and is going to a performing arts high school to study voice (something I did myself in high school). While it deals with Caitlin's healing from her relationship with Nick, and also her bizarre relationship with her mother, it is also a funny, touching, coming-of-age story. At least I hope so.

I also have two short stories in upcoming anthologies, What Are You Afraid Of? edited by Donald Gallo (I am particularly proud of this story, both because it is a great story about an agoraphobic trapped in his parents' home and because it was the inspiration for the anthology itself) and Twice Told, stories based on the art of Scott Hunt. Both will be released in 2006.

If so, could you give us some insights into how this book(s) came to be?

Fade to Black was written because I really enjoy experimenting with viewpoint, so I thought it would be interesting to write a book in several different viewpoints, with each character having a different take on what happened. There's a saying that a villain is a hero in his own story. In Fade, there is a character who might be considered a villain and one who might be considered a hero. However, I have tried to give each his own voice in a non-judgmental way.

Diva was written in response to hundreds of requests I received for a sequel to Breathing Underwater, and also to many conversations I had with girls about relationships in high school. I realized that a lot of girls stay in relationships like the one in Breathing Underwater because they feel they have to have a boyfriend. I wanted to write a book about Caitlin finding something of her own. I think this is a book I would have enjoyed as a teen. It's a little different from my other books, because it's not about violence, but it's still "realistic fiction" in that it is about things that many teens are dealing with.

How about children's or YA books that you've read lately? Which are your favorites and why?

Sandpiper by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Sandpiper is, to me, a book that every teenage girl should read because it deals with a young woman who has tried and failed to find a relationship through sex. I see a lot of young girls going down this same destructive path. But what makes Sandpiper more than a problem novel is the great characters -- particularly Sandpiper's relationship with her mother and sister.

True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas (Razorbill, 2005). It's about a child star who, after an overdose and rehab, is sent to live as a normal teen in a small Indiana town. I love this sort of behind-the-scenes Hollywood thing, so I thought this was a lot of fun.

A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2005). This is about Zoe, who has been taking care of her alcoholic mother for years, then decides to move out. It's an intense novel with beautiful prose. While similar in tone to Margaret Haddix's Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey (which I also liked) and Heather Quarles' A Room Near Here, it is unusual in that it offers no easy solutions to a problem many unseen teens face.

I update my website fairly regularly with books I've been reading. Visit www.alexflinn.com and click on "Favorite Books."

What are your writing goals for the immediate future?

I just finished Diva, so I'd like to start something new. I have some ideas, but nothing engraved in granite yet.

Cynsational Notes

See my recent author interview with Mary E. Pearson on A Room On Lorelei Street (Henry Holt, 2005).

Cynsational News & Links

Award-Winning Author Elizabeth Partridge by Sue Reichard from suite101.com. Elizabeth's books include Dorthea Lange: A Visual Life (Smithsonian, 1993), Clara and the Hoodoo Man (Dutton, 1996), and This Land Was Made For You and Me (Viking 2002), a biography of singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie (Viking, 2002) that won the Boston Horn Book Award. Elizabeth's latest biography is" John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth (Viking, 2005). See also Elizabeth Partridge's Web site. September 2005.

The Purpose of Literature -- and Who Cares? by Natalie Babbitt from the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. Presented at The Ann Carroll Moore Lecture at the New York Public Library, 1989. See also "We're All Mad Here" by Natalie Babbit from the NCBLA. Presented as the Zena Sutherland Lecture; Chicago, June 30, 2004.

The Texas Library Association's Disaster Relief Fund "has been expanded to collect donations for libraries in the Gulf Coast area as well as for libraries providing support for the evacuees. One hundred percent of your donation will be sent to the state library agency or library association in the state of your choice. TLA is also developing a plan to accept book donations..." See TLA Web site for more information.

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