Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Jessica Burkhart

Today's the day for the interview with Jessica Burkhart! You can find it below. Tomorrow, on the myspace blog, I'll be posting the reviews of What Would Emma Do? and Take the Reins. And then on Saturday, I've got Eileen Cook's guest blog to be posted here!

How did you get the idea for Take the Reins, and the Canterwood Crest series as a whole? How many books can we expect in the series, and when are they due to come out?

Take the Reins started as a young adult novel that later shifted into middle-grade. I made the book my tween dream scenario of boys, a fancy school and a top-notch riding program. At first, I was resistant to writing about horses because I’d been a rider for most of my life until I had spinal surgery at thirteen. When I wrote Take the Reins, I hadn’t ridden horses in six years and I thought writing about them would make me sad. But it was the opposite! I threw myself into the Canterwood world and lived out my riding fantasies through my characters. :)

There are eight books in the series and the pub schedule looks like this:

Chasing Blue (#2) out March 24, 2009

Behind the Bit (#3) out May 19, 2009

Triple Fault (#4) out August 11, 2009

Books five through eight will have pub dates announced soon!

2) Are you working on anything new that's not Canterwood Crest- related? Can you tell us anything about it?

Currently, I’m not contracted on any book projects that aren’t related to Canterwood Crest. But I’m still freelance writing on the side and have a variety of pieces coming out this year.

3) You're really young, at 21 (almost 22) to be a published author (actually the same age as me!). What prompted you to want to get published? Also, what brought you to write for the tween/YA genre? Were you a fan of the genre before writing Take the Reins?

I wanted to get published after reading a zillion teen magazines and thinking, “Hey! I can do this!” Nothing sounded cooler than writing and getting paid for it

I started Take the Reins as a YA because I knew the situations in the story wouldn’t fit an adult novel. When Take the Reins changed to a middle-grade, it actually gave me more freedom to grow my characters from a younger age. I get to stay with them longer than if Take the Reins had stayed as YA.

I was a huge fan of the tween/YA genre before I wrote Take the Reins. I hadn’t read as much recent middle-grade, but I’d read lots of YA. Now, I try to read an even amount of both to stay current with what’s out there.

4) What are you reading right now, or are about to start?

I just picked up Meg Cabot’s Ransom My Heart. I haven’t started it yet, but plan to today!

5) Do you have any New Year's Resolutions, or do you not do any of that?

Oh, man. So many resolutions! I tried to pick ones I could control such as meeting all of my deadlines, writing more and worrying less. You know, simple things! :)

6) Are you like your character Sasha at all? Or are you more like another character in the book?

I’m definitely most like Sasha. We both love movies, TV, lip gloss, chocolate scented body wash, horses and books. As a tween, I almost obsessed with the things she worries about like boys, zits and friends.

7) According to your bio on your site, you've done some volunteer work and spearheaded an organization over the years. What has been your most rewarding experience with all of this? Is there any particular memory that sticks out the most?

I spent several years volunteering for my local Humane Society. Now, I work with Shriners Hospital for Children where I had a spinal fusion in 2000. In 2001, I started “Str8 Spines for Shriners,” a support group for kids and teens who need advice before surgery. We joke about how awful the food will be and what they can expect before and after surgery. I think it helps to get support from someone who has been through it.

The most rewarding experience was my work with the Humane Society. The shelter saved cats and dogs from certain death at the local pound and I’ll never forget that. One of the favorite memories is of a Persian cat that came into the shelter. He was covered in sores and infested with bugs. We have to shave off all of his fur and bathe him in this awful shampoo. He never complained once and was grateful for any attention. The shelter owner and I spent months getting him back to good health. When he was adopted by a great family, I cried for hours! I was so thrilled that he’d found the family he deserved.

Thanks so much Jessica for answering these questions!! :)


  1. Aw, lovely interview. She has quite a lot of books coming out right after the other. That's so cool. And I think it's great that she's so young and has become an author. Makes me strive for it more, I suppose, since I'm like...three years younger then her basically.

    What she does charity wise is amazing. I love the program she set up for the kids!


  2. Love the interview, can't wait to read the book! Yay Jess!