Monday, June 23, 2008

Interview with April Lurie

Today I am happy to share my interview with April Lurie. You may visit her on the web and follow her blog. She is the author of Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn (2002), Brothers, Boyfriends and Other Criminal Minds (2007), and The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine (2008). I've read and loved the last two. (I haven't read the first one, at least not yet.)

Tell us a little about yourself and your road to publication.

My story is a little odd. Reading has always been a passion of mine, but I didn’t start writing until I was thirty-five. I’d just had my fourth child (yes, I am crazy) and I knew I wasn’t going back to my previous career as a NICU nurse, at least not at the moment. I’d been reading a lot of middle-grade and young adult fiction along with my other kids, and after reading Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, I decided, okay, this is what I want to do. Write a coming-of-age story. So, I gave it a shot. I really had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t know any other writers. My husband, Ed, was my first reader and he encouraged me a lot. After a couple of years of writing, re-writing, and submitting, I finally sold DANCING IN THE STREETS OF BROOKLYN to my editor at Delacorte.

What inspired you to write The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine? (Or how did this novel come to be).

My two sons, Daniel and Jonny, were my inspirations for the story, and I dedicated the book to them. Strangely, the idea sprang from the darkest time in my life – when Daniel ran away from home at the age of 15. (No worries, he’s twenty now, in college, studying music, and fine.) He’d been getting into a lot of trouble, experimenting with drugs, and had teamed up with the members of his rock band. I never thought I would write about this crazy time in my life, but the process turned out to be quite therapeutic. Also, I think (at least I hope) it’s my funniest book to date.

How long did it take to write and see through to the finished product? Were there any surprises along the way?

The novel took about a year to write. My editor has this uncanny way of always knowing how to make a story better, so I revised. I guess the biggest surprise was that I was able to write from a 15-year-old boy’s point of view. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I really had a blast.

Do you have a favorite character, a favorite scene, a favorite quote?

Well, I guess my favorite character is Dylan, but I grew to love them all. As a writer, I have to spend so much time alone, so my characters become my friends. I think my favorite scene is when Dylan plays basketball inside The Cage. It’s a real place in Greenwich Village, and when I was teen I would walk past there a lot and watch the games. It was fun to create Mother F, and the MC, Toulouse Lautrec. A favorite quote? How about, “I can’t control what happens in life … but I can decide who gets the aphrodisiacs.”

[I just have to add that is one of my favorite lines too!]

You have a great first sentence—“I can tell you from experience that a jail cell is not a place you’d like to visit.” Did it come easily or did you struggle with getting it just right?

Thanks! Actually … I didn’t struggle. I knew that was how the story would begin.

Why did you decide to introduce your character to the world in a jail cell?

I knew that Dylan was going to have to land in jail, and that it was going to be his brother’s fault. Dylan’s relationship with Randy is the heart of the story, and they have a lot of issues to work out.

Does Dylan have a playlist? What songs come to mind when you think about Dylan and his world—his family and friends?

Dylan loves rock and blues, but he also loves classical guitar. So, his playlist would include artists like Carcassi, Fernando Sor, and Led Zeppelin.

What was your first impression of the cover art for The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine?

I loved it! My previous novel, BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS & OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS, has a shocking pink cover that screams chick-lit, so this was a nice change.

What do you love about writing? What do you find the easiest? What do you find the hardest? What does a day in the life of a writer look like?

I love the creative process. It always amazes me how an idea of mine can actually become a book. I also LOVE hearing from kids. If I can give a child or a teen pleasure through a story, then I have done my job. The easiest part is revision. The hardest and scariest part is the blank page. My day basically goes like this: drive my daughter to school, go to the gym, write for three to four hours, cook dinner, read, go to bed. Exciting, huh?

Can you tell us anything about your current work-in-progress? Do you have any upcoming releases?

Yes! I just finished a YA novel, THE LESS-DEAD. Here’s the blurb from Publisher’s Marketplace.

April Lurie's THE LESS-DEAD, when his friend is murdered, a teen whose father hosts a Christian radio show starts piecing together clues to the crimes of a serial killer who leaves biblical quotes, not realizing he's being drawn into a cat and mouse game in which he is supposed to be the last victim.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Has this always been a dream of yours?

It wasn’t until I rediscovered teen fiction as an adult that I knew I wanted to write. There’s something about coming of age stories that really draw me in. Or, maybe I’m just stuck at 15.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Have you met any of your ‘favorites’? Who would you most like to have dinner with?

Oh, so many! Some of my favorite authors who write for adults are: Michael Cunningham, Tracy Chevalier, Anita Shreve, Hemingway, and Salinger. My favorite YA authors are: Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo, Patricia McCormack, Pete Hautman, Christopher Paul Curtis, the list goes on and on. Yes, I’ve met some of my favorites. Louis Sachar lives right here in Austin, and Margo Rabb (Cures for Heartbreak) just moved to Austin. I’d love to have dinner with Lois Lowry. The Giver is one of my all time favorite books.

Have you always loved to read? Did you have a reading hero growing up? Someone who encouraged you to read, to lose yourself in a good book?

I began to love reading when I was in sixth grade. In the summer, I would carry stacks of books home from the library and read all day. I did it on my own. My parents thought I was nuts.

What were some of your favorites growing up? And what are some of your favorites now?

The first book I fell in love with was The Changeling, by Zilpha Keatly Snyder. For some reason, I also loved Alfred Hitchcock’s Stories to be Read with the Lights On.

How do you find time—do you find time—to keep reading? Do you have any favorites of the year?

I read all the time. I don’t watch much TV, well, except for American Idol, which is pretty much an addiction. My favorite book this year is The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

If you had twenty-four hours, a time machine, and a limitless supply of money, what would you want to do?

Hmm, I might want to go back to when I was fourteen and had a mad crush on a boy named Dominick. This time, I wouldn’t be so shy. In fact, I might even talk to him.

You might also be interested in reading other April Lurie interviews: Cynthia Leitich Smith, Cynsations, Little Willow.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kelly said...

Nice interview, Becky! It's nice to learn more about April and her books. I also loved "Dylan Fontaine."

Little Willow said...

Thanks for the link!

I loved Zilpha Keatly Snyder's book as well. You can't go wrong with Alfred Hitchcock.

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Great interview! I hope you'll think about interviewing me too, after you receive the ARC of Courage in Patience (sometime in August..)
Love your site!
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Chapter 1 is online!