Fuse #8

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Blog Tour Bus Makes a Pit Stop In Fuse Country

Graff. Lisa Graff.
She's lean, she's mean, she's a kick-ass writing machine. Which is to say, we've a very special guest here at A Fuse #8 Production today. Sit down and behave yourself, class. Lisa Graff, author of this year's The Thing About Georgie is stopping by here on her whirlwind blog tour. I am not the best interviewer (such skills belong far more to the 7-Imp camp) but I'll do my best for this lovely lass. After all, she is one of only five editors in my Editorial blogroll (off to the right).

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot of this book, here' s a review of the title as prepared by Big A little a. Onward!

FUSE #8: Why the burning, nay, overwhelming urge to write? And, more importantly, why children's books at all?

LG: I guess I write because I like to make up stories. I like looking at people on the subway or on the street, and trying to figure out who they are by the way they talk or how they twitch a finger. And since I’ll never know any of that for sure, I have to make it up. I write children’s books because I can’t imagine writing anything else. I love kids and telling stories about them. But I also love reading kid’s books. There’s no room for lazy storytelling or self-serving prose in children’s books, because kids won’t put up with that. You have to get in, tell your story, tell it well, and get out. A good children’s book is like a little gem—smooth, small, and perfect. And, um, shiny.

FUSE #8: You are part of a crazy group of gals knows as The Longstockings who blog regularly on a host of varied kidlit topics. Give me the skinny on how you came together as a whole.

LG: Well, all eight of us went to the New School here in Manhattan and got our MFAs in Writing for Children. It’s a very small program, so we all got to know each other pretty well. We’d meet every week and swap bits of our novels and critique them and offer suggestions, and somehow along the line we became friends too. When the program ended we decided we simply couldn’t bear to stop meeting regularly and workshopping, so we formed an official group. And then we decided to take on the World Wide Web, too, and start a blog. So far I think it’s going pretty well.

FUSE #8: I don't want to repeat any of the questions already asked on The Longstockings blog, but what the hey? What's the name of the children's book you'd like The Thing About Georgie to be mentioned with in a single breath? Which is to say, what's the best possible kidlit title someone could compare your book to?

LG: My all-time favorite kid’s book in the universe is Holes. Talk about a gem. I’m in love with that book—the way all the plotlines come together so unexpectedly and perfectly at the end, and the seamlessness of the storytelling. I’d pretty much die and go to Heaven if someone mentioned my book in the same sentence as Holes. Unfortunately, my book is completely different in terms of plot and characters and, well, everything, so probably the only sentence that would use both titles would be, “Hey, did you know that the chick who wrote The Thing About Georgie really likes Holes?”

FUSE #8: I'm stealing this particular question from the 7-Imp blog. Three authors you'd like to sit down and have dinner with.... go.

LG: Louis Sachar, obviously, because I just gushed about his book so that would be weird if I didn’t pick him. Also he seems down-to-earth and fun. Then I’d have to go with Katherine Paterson, because I think she’s a genius, and she is so wonderful at writing characters who do awful things but still manage to be completely lovable. I’m rather in awe of her. For my third author I pick George Bernard Shaw, because he’s witty and snarky and I bet he’d make fabulous dinner conversation.

FUSE #8: What's your next book? Or at the very least, some of the ideas that might be ah-percolating in your brain?

LG: My next book is called The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, and it comes out early next year. It’s about a twelve-year-old girl who loses her scholarship to private school, so in order to earn her tuition she becomes a con artist for a summer. It’s very twisty-turny and fun. I actually just got the manuscript back from copyediting, and it’s covered in lots of pencil marks in all different colors with queries for me to answer… I should probably get cracking on that.

FUSE #8: Any advice you'd care to share with the umpteen-bazillion people out there who would kill to be in your my-book-just-got-published-by-Harper-Collins shoes?

LG: Read. A lot. I know everyone says that, and it sounds like the lamest cop-out answer ever, but it’s really true. You can’t be a writer if you don’t love to read. I think children’s writers especially can learn a lot from reading the kinds of books they want to write, and paying careful attention to everything—the structure of the story, the length, the words the author uses. I think we as writers can soak up a ton from studying what the greats have done before us.

And now a special treat. Act fast, my pretties, and be one of the first three people to send an e-mail to thethingaboutgeorgie@harpercollins.com with the name of A Fuse #8 Production in the subject heading. Tell Lisa that you saw her interview on this blog and IF you are one of the first three (which gives an unfair advantage to early birds and residents of Australia, I know) then you will be sent a complimentary copy of Graff's new book. Howzabout them apples, eh?

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At 2:29 AM , Blogger Saipan Writer said...

I really want to read your book, Lisa. Good luck with it.

(And hope I'm one of the first 3!)

At 9:53 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

You're a fab interviewer, Fuse. Don' you dare sell yourself short.

Lisa, it's fun to read all these interviews!

At 10:24 AM , Anonymous jules said...

Woo hoo for the continuing blog tour! Lisa, I meant to mention earlier that, since you can sing 50 prepositional phrases to the tune of "A Whole New World" (as mentioned in our interview with you) and since I can sing the alphabet as it appears on the keyboard, we must join forces one day and provide a pod cast of our songs for our listeners (or whatever it's called when we provide audio -- I'm not up on my advanced blogger technology skills). A reader has actually requested that I showcase my sing-the-alphabet-as-it-appears-on-the-keyboard skills on our site, so maybe one day we can join forces.

Good interview, Fuse. Ditto to what Kelly said.

At 10:28 AM , Blogger Natalie said...

Thanks for the interview, Fuse8--the book sounds great. And I'll know for myself soon enough, because I won one of the three copies! Yay! It pays to live in Italy...I sent my email while the rest of you slumbered across the pond...

Thanks again!

At 11:35 AM , Blogger Jenny Han said...

Lisa is the bizomb! Read her book, yall. Sooo worth it.

At 7:22 PM , Blogger Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

I hesitated but then went ahead and pushed "send". It was 4:00pm Tokyo time. I had just come in from the long trek to the American School Library, sat down, logged on going first to Fuse#8 before e-mail. It seemed like a gift! A new book hot off the press! I felt a little funny knowing everyone else was sleeping, but hey, English books are highly coveted here. I woke today to find I got one! Thanks!
I'm looking forward to reading it. In my e-mail I said I would give it to the American School Library. The librarian there kindly spent time yesterday talking books. I had a very good day! Annie
P.S. Natalie, your blog about Italy looks interesting. Only looked at the first page for now. We have those street mirrors here in Tokyo, too. Short winding roads...

At 1:10 AM , Blogger Rozum said...

I'm here in the U.S. and, I am proud to say, the recipient of the 3rd copy.

Sometimes it just pays to be a night owl.

Very nice interview, and I can't wait to read the book.

At 1:12 AM , Blogger Natalie said...

Thanks Annie!

I've seen your blog, too, and love it--I actually recommended it to a fellow writer on a Yahoo teen lit authors group I'm in (the author is writing a YA set in Japan). I lived in Yokohama for 2 years, so it's fun to see your take on Japanese life!


At 10:08 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

What a remarkably international crew. Someone in Italy, someone in Japan, and a night owl with a penchant for horror and Jabberjaws. I love my readers.

At 7:53 AM , Blogger Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

I got my copy of the book today! Thank you Betsy, Lisa and HarperCollins! We love it!

I managed to fit it into a post for my blog that is only about Japan and things Japanese.


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