Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Author Interview- Lauren Myracle
1) How did you get the idea for Shine?
Shine starts off with an act of hate and violence: a seventeen-year-old boy is found beaten and left for dead, tied to the gas pump of an isolated gas station, with the gasoline nozzle jammed into his mouth and duct-taped into place. This specific image has lived in my mind for a long time, because when my dad was young, a cousin of his died from swallowing gas and inhaling the fumes. This little boy was playing with older cousins, as I recall, and they told him to pretend to be a car and they would fill him with fuel. Awful, isn't it? And powerful, powerful enough to stick with me for all of these years. Somehow in that mysterious way of brains, the memory of my dad's cousin merged with an idea I'd been playing around involving a hate crime and its aftermath...and that's how Shine was born.
2) Shine is very different in tone from your previous books- how did you get into that mindset and was it difficult for you?
No, not difficult, exactly. I mean, it was difficult to write about the ugliness in the book--and there is a lot of ugliness. But I've always had a dark side and a light side. Most readers are simply more familiar with my lighter side.
3) You seem to be very tight-lipped about your upcoming projects because it seems like I never hear about your books until they arrive in stores. So I'd like to know what book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them? *please let there be a sequel to Bliss coming up*
You make me laugh. I'm not tight-lipped--I'm just constantly overwhelmed, meaning I never have time to do all the Good Author things I should be doing, like blogging about upcoming projects! Right now I'm working on Oopsy-Daisy, the third of a series called The Flower Power Books. It's about fifth graders. There are no hate crimes in it. As for a sequel to Bliss? I'm already taking notes and writing it in my mind! Will I ever actually write it? I sure hope so. I sure WANT to. But first my editor has to ask me to! :)
4) You grew up in the South and it was quite a different world for gay people back in the 70s and 80s. Did you ever witness or hear about hate crimes against gay people? Were you ever taught anything regarding homosexuality, or was it swept under the rug (much like a lot of bad things in the town portrayed in Shine)?
I love the South. It is and always will be my "spiritual" home, although I live in Colorado now. But yes, the South has its challenges, and I most definitely was taught by some people in my life not to "talk ugly." That included not talking about things that made people uncomfortable. Homosexuality made a lot of people uncomfortable back then--and let's be honest, it makes certain people uncomfortable still--so it pretty much...never came up. But people grow, cultures grow, and life changes. I'm happy to report that my current Southern circle of friends and family are completely open and affirming when it comes to people of all races, social and economic statuses, and sexual/gender identification. (Well...for the most part...) :)
5) Your books are constantly challenged and banned, and I'm sure Shine is going to be no different (Editor's Note: The librarian who introduced Lauren at the event said the exact same thing, lol). How do you deal with the censorship? Has Shine received any flack yet?
Gee, thanks, Book Chic! Teasing. Who knows if it'll be challenged/banned? I'm hopeful that it won't be, because I see it simply as a book that deals honestly--and not in any sort of sensational way--with tough issues. As far as early responses to Shine go, readers have been pretty frickin' supportive. Almost all bloggers/reviewers have felt compelled to "warn" readers about its pulls-no-punches content, but that's cool. The only early review that really pissed me off was one in which a reader completely trashed the entire novel because, in her opinion, there is NO WAY a grown-up in this day and age would see a child in pain and do nothing about it. Um...denial much, lady friend? The incident she was talking about was a molestation scene, and I've actually had early readers email me to say, "Omigosh, this happened to me, and no one did ANYTHING." And that is heartbreaking, and needs to be cast out into the light, I think.
6) Since I've already asked you what your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor is (a resounding "pina colada!!!!!"), what's your favorite thing to snack on while writing, or as a reward for doing writing?
Oh, BC, I bet you know: Dr. Pepper, of course! And for a REALLY guilty pleasure? Oh gosh. I'm embarrassed to say. But, a microwaved Jimmy Dean sausage-and-biscuit.
7) What kind of research did you do to capture the atmosphere of a small, backwoods Southern town that's rife with poverty, drug use, and intolerance?
Oh, ya know, the usual. I grew up there, basically. :) My parents got divorced when I was four, so I split my childhood between life in Atlanta with my mom and life in a small mountain town with my dad. The drug use aspect of the novel I did NOT learn about through personal experience, however. For that, I talked to anyone and everyone I could who'd had experience with addiction, especially with meth. And what I learned is that meth is the devil...truly.
8) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?
An ARC of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma and edited by the magnificent Julie Strauss-Gabel. So far I'm loving it. It's creepy in a psychological way--just my cup of arsenic-laced-tea!