Author of A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt.
Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.
Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea ’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?
Have any songs influenced your writing / stories / characters?
Not directly. But as I was seeking publication, I taught piano and guitar lessons out of my home. At the time, I was writing only adult work. Interacting with teen and tween students one-on-one made me want to try my hand at YA…so music, in general, brought me to the genre that first accepted my work!
Are you a coffee or tea person?
Coffee. Enormous, enormous coffee person.
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I figured out how to hold a pen. Honestly. I was writing at my child-sized rolltop desk when I was about six, seven years old.
It was truly a lifelong dream, being a writer. When I got my master’s in ’01, I had the ability to nix the full-time job routine, in favor of pursuing writing (this was only possible because of some incredible—INCREDIBLE—financial support from my family). Even though I had no financial concerns, publication didn’t come quickly OR easily—took seven and half years to snag the first deal.
Do you plan your stories, or do they develop spontaneously as you write?
Most of the time, they’re completely planned and outlined—and I’m the dictator telling my characters who they’re supposed to be.
The one exception was PLAYING HURT…initially, the book was a love story that followed Chelsea as she went on summer vacation and fell for a guide at the resort (Clint) in a way she had never fallen for her boyfriend at home (Gabe). The book was all about learning the difference between loving someone and being IN love with someone.
After selling A BLUE SO DARK, my debut, to Flux, I re-read the manuscript for PLAYING HURT (then called SUMMER FLING), and realized my characters needed some backstory. I was struck by how athletic both seemed—hiking, fishing, bowling all existed in the first draft. So I began to give both Clint and Chelsea athletic pasts—the sports subplot exists in this book because I let my characters tell me who they were!
E-books or tangible books?
I do have a Kindle, and enjoy reading on it…I was resistant to e-readers at first, thinking the experience of reading on a screen couldn’t possibly be the same as reading on the page…And then I realized, “Holly, you dope, you read your OWN books on the computer screen all the time!”
Why do you write contemporary fiction, as opposed to another genre?
When I started seeking publication, I didn’t know where the first “yes” was going to come from, so I started writing in as many different genres as I possibly could. I have tons of manuscripts I’m now revising and reworking to get them into publishable form. My first middle grade is actually in development now, and should hit shelves in 2012! Look out for future books in different genres as well…
I'm so happy to be part of the Playing Hurt blog tour
and cannot wait to read the book!
A great big thanks to Ms. Schindler for taking the time to answer my questions!