Author Interview: Sarah Ockler

Thursday, December 17, 2009 |

I have Sarah Ockler here with us in The Bookologist! She is the amazing author of Twenty Boy Summer which was released this year, '09.

Find Sarah:

How old did you start to write? Why?
I've been writing pretty much as long as I've been reading, so about age 4 or 5. I just loved stories as a kid, and once I figured out that I could create my own, there was no stopping me. At least not until I became an adult and let all sorts of doubt and fear and stupid stuff get in my way. But thankfully, I'm over that, now!

What made you write young adult?
I was encouraged by a talented writing workshop instructor, Mike Henry of Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, to check out their YA novel class after I'd turned in a short essay about some trouble my BFF and I got into in our teens. In the YA class, we studied contemporary authors like Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Laurie Halse Anderson while critiquing one another's work and practicing our craft. From the very first class, it was like all the light bulbs and sunbeams converging on me at once with that angelic choir music in the background... and I just knew that I was meant to write young adult fiction. So here I am. :-)

How are you and Anna alike? How are you different?
We both have curly hair. And we're both extremely introspective with a sense of humor that most people don't get to see, because we're pretty shy on the outside. But Anna is definitely more patient than I am when it comes to sticking with a friend like Frankie. She's very loyal and willing to put up with a lot of stuff -- especially after Frankie changes so much in the wake of her brother's death.

If you could pick a theme song for Twenty Boy Summer, what would it be and why?
California Stars by Wilco. The first time I heard it, I just knew it was the TBS theme song. I guess because it's kind of hopeful and warm and sunny without being overly sappy, and that's kind of how I view Anna and Frankie's relationship. Like it's not perfect, but at the end of it all, you just kind of smile and sigh. Eh, maybe that only makes sense in my head!

The theme of death and grief is explored through Anna's eyes, why did you pick her, not Frankie?
With Twenty Boy Summer, I really wanted to explore grief and loss from the perspective of someone who wasn't in the immediate family. Though Anna wasn't an outsider in Matt's life, she felt like she had no right to grieve him the way that his sister and parents did. No one else knew about her secret relationship with Matt -- that they had fallen in love. Anna's loss was as intense and real as anyone's, but she kept herself on the periphery, feeling always as though she was looking at the family's pain from outside the window, trying to keep her promise to Matt that she wouldn't tell Frankie about their relationship and trying to help Frankie deal with the death of her big brother. Anna's loss was very private, and for a long time, she suffered alone. I really wanted to write about what it's like to lose something that no one else knew existed for you. I wanted to write about what that does to you and how it changes you. Sometimes I think about writing it again from Frankie's perspective, but Twenty Boy Summer was Anna's story. She was the only person to tell it.

Do you have any must-have's while writing?
Coffee for sure! I like to work on Scrivener on my Mac laptop, but if that's not available I can write long hand (but only if I have a nice, heavy pen). Sometimes I get these intense cravings for Smart Food white cheddar popcorn (even though that makes a mess of the keyboard), especially during revisions. I also burn incense when I write. But I'd call those things "like to haves" rather than "must haves." If I was all alone in a room, as long as there was a wall and a pencil or a stick, I'd still find a way to write. :-)

If you weren't an author, what would your dream job be?
This is a tough question for me because even if being an author wasn't my job, I would still write, and I would still *want* it to be my job, in which case that would be my dream job. :-) I've had lots of other jobs and I know this much about myself for sure: I am *not* cut out for corporate life, office politics, nine to five, rules, cubicles, any of those things. So I'd still need to be working for myself, no matter what. Probably something with photography and travel, like shooting destination weddings or other people's vacations.

Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you so much for chatting with me, Mavie! I love hearing from readers and bloggers and I'm so grateful for all of the support and enthusiasm for Twenty Boy Summer. I have a new book coming out in the fall of 2010 called Fixing Delilah Hannaford. I hope you'll check it out! In the mean time, thanks again and happy reading, all!

Thanks Sarah! I can't wait to read Fixing Delilah Hannaford! =)


Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Nice interview! And lol, love how the "Angelic choir" revealed to Sarah that YA is the genre for her. I've been wanting to read this one, so I'll definitely be entering the contest soon. ;)

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you very much for the great interview with Sarah & thank you to Sarah for sharing. I really enjoyed learning more about her and her writing especially the exploration of the theme to TWENTY BOY SUMMER.
Happy Holidays!

Donna Gambale said...

What a great interview! I loved Twenty Boy Summer, and I'm really glad it was through Anna's eyes. And Sarah's "why I write YA" story is nearly identical to mine, lightbulbs and sunbeams included! (Mine had dancing leprechauns though, not an angelic choir.)

misskallie2000 said...

Great interview with Sarah and enjoyed reading about her why etc.. Twenty Boy Summer sounds like a great read. I look forward to getting later but will have to add to my to buy book list for now. Thanks

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