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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Sarah Ockler Interview

Enter to win a copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler here!

And be sure to enter my contest for a signed copy of Boy Toy by Barry Lyga here! Remember to get those extra entries in too! :)

1) How did you get the idea for Twenty Boy Summer?

I was inspired to write the story of Twenty Boy Summer by my previous work with the National Donor Family Council (http://donorfamily.org), an organization that supports families after a loved one dies and donates organs or tissues. Through the NDFC, I met many grieving teens who'd suffered the death of a sibling or friend, and when I set out to write my novel, I knew that I wanted to share a small part of the love, loss, and hope the donor family teens had experienced. With those intense emotions, I also wanted to explore some of the more typical things that challenge teens every day, like changing friendships, conflict, and tough personal choices.

2) You studied creative writing at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop after graduating from the University at Buffalo. What was it like studying there, and do you have any funny or interesting anecdotes about being there?

Everyone at the Lighthouse (http://lighthousewriters.org) is the best kind of crazy, which is why I love them so much. If not for LWW, Twenty Boy Summer wouldn't exist. It all started when Lighthouse founder and talented poet Mike Henry approached me after memoir class one night and asked if I'd ever considered writing for young adults. I'd just turned in a funny-ish essay about some trouble my high school BFF and I got into back in the day, and Mike thought my voice had an authentic YA quality. So just for fun, and because I had no idea what kind of writer I could or would become, I signed up for the upcoming YA novel class, and that's when the lightbulb went on. I fell in love with young adult fiction! I adroed writing stories about teens and through the YA class, I truly found and honed my voice, completing all of Twenty Boy Summer from idea to final draft. I continued participating in Lighthouse workshops, events, and writing retreats because I'd never before found such comraderie, creative collective spirit, smart writers, unending encouragement, and free wine. :-) I wish I could move them to Buffalo because Lighthouse is one of the things I miss most about living in Denver. I mean, the Lighthouse writers and faculty, not the free wine. :-)

3) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

I'm currently revising my second book, Fixing Delilah Hannaford (Little, Brown - Spring 2010), about a teen girl's struggle to uncover the history and hreatbreaking consequences of three generations of family secrets. Everything unfolds during an eventful summer in Vermont, and there's a super cute boy in the middle of things, too. :-) There's an excert posted on Starry Night (http://trublu93.blogspot.com/2009/06/sarah-ocklers-sneak-peak.html) if you'd like to take a peek.

4) What brought you to the YA genre? Have you always been a fan, or are you still fairly new to it all?

I owe it all to Mike Henry at Lighthouse Writers, who gave me an encouraging shove toward the YA genre way back in 2003. :-) Once I enrolled in Lighthouse's young adult novel class, I discovered Sarah Dessen, who unknowingly inspired me the rest of the way, helping me realize through her eloquent prose and storytelling that I was born to write for and about teens. Before that, I was completely unfamiliar with contemporary young adult literature, spending most of my own teen years reading V.C. Andrews, Stephen King, and medical thrillers by Robin Cook. Now, 99% of my reading list is YA. I'm a fan for life!

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

Cotton Candy or Buttered Popcorn. Depends on whether I'm in the mood for sweet or salty!

6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I'm currently reading Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley (Aug 2009) and The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard (Jan 2010).

7) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

The best advice I can offer is to never give up, constantly practice writing, and right when you think you've finally written your masterpiece, get a good critique partner to totally trash it for you. :-) Then, lather, rinse, repeat. You'll get there! :-)

Thanks so much for the interview, Book Chic!

And thanks for answering my questions, Sarah! It was great having you here! :)


  1. Great interview! I always enjoy reading about the authors that I adore. Twenty Boy Summer, is such a great book.

    Congrats Sarah.

  2. Hey. I'm in Denver and have never heard of lighthouse writers - off to check it out! Thanks!!