Debut middle grade author Holly Schindler is here to brighten up these dreary, mid-winter days with a novel full of sunshine and hope. She dropped by The Files to give us this peek into how the book came to be:
HOW FRUSTRATION AND DISAPPOINTMENT BECAME A PUBLICATION OR: THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY
When I wrote the first draft of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, I was—if I’m to be honest—a little heartbroken. Tired. Disappointed. Frustrated…And more determined than ever.
Four years earlier, in the spring of ’01, I’d graduated with my master’s. I was encouraged to stay home and devote full-time attention to getting my writing career off the ground. I’d published short work previously—fiction, poetry, and lit critique. I thought for sure that the only thing standing between me and a full-time writing career was the time it would take to get a book on the page.
But there I was, four years into it. I hadn’t had much in the way of nibbles or “good” rejections—agents and editors offering some advice with their “no.” I was still getting form rejections. I had friends from college who were wrapping up PhDs, moving on with their lives, and there I was, still banging my head against the wall.
I won’t lie—it was a bad time. The kind of bad time when you have to look yourself in the mirror, figure out what you want, what you’re doing. At the end of some soul-searching, I knew I could never give up on writing. It was my lifelong dream—and truly the love of my life.
So I put my rear in the chair. I needed to get back to work—which also meant that I needed a new story. A new direction. As I brainstormed, I saw a man’s face—Grampa Gus’s face. And I heard a voice—the voice of a little girl talking about her grandfather. As the story took shape, it became the tale of a young girl finding her way as a folk artist—and standing up for her art, when her hometown declares what she’s created isn’t art at all, but junk.
In a lot of respects, that book is me standing up for my own art. Me saying I wasn’t going to back down form a life writing. While I have never written specifically about events or people in my own life, I do think that coming up with a fictional situation and characters that allow you to work through your own hopes and fears can absolutely be a powerful tool—important for you as an artist, and also good for the mental health! Sometimes, it makes for the most honest work you can produce.
Readers can contact me through my website, hollyschindler.com, or through this site specially created for MG readers: hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com. I’m devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves! Be sure to send your young reader’s review through the Contact Me page.
Thanks for spreading the sunshine and inspiration, Holly!
Giveaway: One winner will choose between 1) a signed bookplate and bookmark and 2) a free Skype visit. Leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing.