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BookLore Interview
Kimberly Greene

Sofia's Questions:

1. Are any of the main characters in the book based on someone you know in reality?

What a great question! Yes, one of the main characters is indeed based on a real person- actually Blu is a fictional blend of 2 of my all-time favourite people. The first person is an old friend named Michelle who always had a funny way of helping me deal with tough times and the other is a woman who took care of me growing up. Her name is Carrie P. Both Michelle and Carrie P. offered me the kind of genuine, comfortable friendship that Blu comes to give Sam.

2. How long did it take you to write the story?

It's funny, the very first idea for the story hit me all at once. As I began writing it out, it took a lot longer than I ever thought it would because I kept "seeing" more fun things and layers to the story that I hadn't thought of in my very first draft. When all was said and done, I'd say it took about a solid year to write the book.

3. How long did it take you to plan the story?

The planning of the story came pretty darn quickly. I work with kids and was getting really fed up with some of them complaining about doing school work because they felt that learning math and reading was unimportant because they were all planning on being rich and famous and thus, they'd simply hire people to do all their work for them. I had this idea in my head that there had to be a fun way to help these kids figure for themselves that it was important for them to be present in their daily lives and not just wait for their fabulous futures to come along, but I didn't know how to make this happen. Then, I saw a picture of Brittney Spear's little sister at an awards show; the little sister looked completely uncomfortable and out-of-place and the whole of the story suddenly came to me. My story was about a girl who was pushed into that life that the kids I worked with were dreaming about, but she didn't like it because it was all so fake and strange. From that clear understanding of what I wanted the story to offer the reader, the planning of it fell into place.

4. Will there be a sequel?

There will! I originally saw the story has being three different books. The sequel is already mapped out and I'm beginning to do the actual writing. The third book is mapped out in my head, but I'm not even close to working any further on it yet.

5. How many books have you written?

I have worked with a couple of other people on their own books before, but this is my very first novel.

6. What age were you when you started writing?

I've always liked writing. In fact, when I was 12, I won a writing contest for my hometown newspaper. It was a "What Christmas Means to Me" letter writing contest.

7. Have you always lived in California?

I've only lived in California for about 10 years. I've been lucky enough to live in a whole bunch of interesting places, including Fort de France, Martinique, Toronto, Canada and London, England. I am originally from Sioux City, Iowa - right smack in the middle of the U.S.

8. Have you always been keen on reading?

Yes! I can't remember a time when I didn't love to read. It's funny though, I used to get in trouble at school because the teachers would call on me in reading class and I wouldn't have been following along. They thought it was because I was a bad reader when the truth was that I was such a good reader, I'd gotten bored with the slow pace of the class and was reading way ahead of everyone.

BookLore's Questions:

9. It is often assumed an author is also a voracious reader? Is this true in your case?

Absolutely! I was having this very conversation with a friend the other evening. She was asking for help getting her young son to read on his own. I recommended filling her house with words, making a game out of making labels for every single thing in the house- from door to refrigerator. My feeling is that too many kids don't recognize that words are representations for stuff, real tangible things. By creating a way for a child to make that connection in an easy, comfortable fashion, the connection between reading and getting meaning from the experience becomes holistic and (dare I say it) enjoyable.

I have no memory of ever having to learn to read; I do however, have very strong memories of always having the flashlight hidden under my pillow so I could read all night long. I think I fell into reading because it was something I could do alone, but it never felt lonely. I was a very shy child and reading allowed me to escape being aware that I was eating my lunch by myself or not getting picked to me on a kickball team.

10. You mention '…insane experiences I lived through as a studio-teacher'. Do you have one particular story that stands out from the rest?

There are so many bizarre stories from those days that I can hardly pick one. No one on the set likes the teacher. The producer sees you as someone who stops him from working the child all day. The kid sees you as the evil entity forcing them to do math when they'd rather be goofing around with the other actors. I even had one parent bawl me out for ruining her child's career because he needed to be doing the important work of learning his blocking for the next scene rather than "wasting his time with something as worthless as history".

Kids on a movie or TV set get treated as if they are little gods; every adult caters to their every whim. They want a certain kind of soda and a production assistant runs to get it for them. The adults don't want to upset a child actor because they are afraid that any minute the kid will throw a tantrum and slow down shooting.

11. Favourite colour?

Greene! Okay, green. ;-)

12. Do you find it difficult to write for the tween market?

Not at all, I love it. Maybe it's a sign of my desire not to grow up, but I love this age group. There is something fascinating about the age where you begin to realize that there is a big world around you and you try to figure out how to fit into it. Tweens still have that connection to childhood that enables them to see things as they truly are while desperately hoping that they are blending in and not looking freakishly out-of-place.

13. Favourite drink?

Orange cream soda.

14. f you could only read one book which one would it be and why?

I am a freak for any and all almanacs. My father brought home "The Book of Lists" when I was in middle school and I promptly stole, borrowed, liberated it from him. There is something engrossing about facts and lists and miscellany.

15. You also say '…fame & fortune do not automatically add up to a perfect life.' Is this statement made from personal experience?

It's a truth that I learned from being around these lives, not living one myself. A friend who was the personal assistant to an insanely wealthy wife of a hugely successful TV and movie producer once told me that there is a fine line between rich and useless. I've seen many instances where the folks who appear to have everything are miserable because they spend all their time worrying about others trying to take away everything that they have.

16. Have any particular authors influenced your writing?

I'm influenced more by educational and psychological theorists than I am individual writers (I really am a serious geek at heart). I love taking the ideas of people I respect like Seymour Sarason and Dennis Littkey, and incorporating their understanding of how kids learn and think and using those concepts to "fill out" my characters.

17. What is your favourite genre?

Are almanacs a genre? If not, then I'll go with historical biographies. But then again, I also love books on the quantum nature of the universe. Hang on, I have shelves full of tomes on pop culture throughout the 20th century. I'm sorry to be so difficult on this question. Let's just say that my library gives the impression that I'm pretty darn schizophrenic.

18. Would you rather read or watch television?

I would much rather read a good book than watch TV.

19. Apple Pie or Chocolate Gateau?

Chocolate anything!

20. Many great books from earlier centuries are often neglected by modern readers. Why do you think this is?

I think many people are intimidated by great books. They (we) have been given the impression by popular culture that it's not "cool" to spend time doing something that requires actual focus. If it's not something you can zip in and out of, then it's only for those eggheads who have the time step outside of the "now".

21. Have you any opinions on the Harry Potter phenomenon?

I love it! How wonderful that we have a group of characters who have brought kids and adults back to the enjoyment of being engrossed. Reading demands involvement. It stimulates cognition on multiple levels and awakens neurological pathways that passive entertainment erodes (told you I was a geek).

22. Favourite place or country?

Any mountain anywhere. A bad day on skis still beats a good day in shoes- no matter where or when.

23. With so many distractions is it surprising so few people read?

Interesting question. I don't think it's so much about the distractions themselves. I think it's about modern culture's value of the time involved in reading. In a consumer society, the goal is to get people to spend their money buying more and more; thus, the faster you can get people to "replenish" their resources, the more the economy "wins". It takes longer for a person to read a book than it does to watch a DVD or read a magazine, so money is spent telling us it's better, "cooler", more socially acceptable to spend your limited amount of free time and money on the DVD. I don't mean to sound so negative, I guess it comes from all my time working with kids and studying the messages that are pushed at them 24/7.

24. How would you describe reading to someone who sees it as boring?

I'd say that reading a great book is more interactive than any video game. The game is limited by the imagination of the designers, but the images one gets from a book are unlimited if you allow yourself to really think about what you are reading.

To finish this exhaustive list of questions and complete your detailed psychological profile please confirm your favourite type of music:

Cheesy 70s pop.

by Sofia and BookLore - 12th September 2006

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