Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chatting with Fran Cannon Slayton

Hi Fran, Welcome to Yabooknerd. Let's get started:

1. What made you choose to write?
Initially, I started writing fiction because an idea for a story popped into my head and kept bugging me until I finally just had to write it down. At first I tried to ignore it because it was hard for me to admit that I wanted to be a writer. But fortunately, the idea kept hounding me until I finally just gave in. For a long time I kept telling myself I wasn’t writing a novel, I was just writing because I needed to. Looking back on it, that was probably the best reason I could have had to start!

That's a great story.

2. Where do you write best?
In my office at home, or in front of the fireplace on my laptop. Or at a local coffee shop around town. Even in the car on long trips (when my husband is driving, of course!) I like to change the place I write pretty frequently.

3. Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to write about?
I’ve been interested for quite awhile in writing a non-fiction picture book about poverty.

4. What’s one book you wish you’d written?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

A great choice.

5. What was the last book you’ve read that you’ve been recommending to everyone?
Bull Rider, by Suzanne Morgan Williams, and Freaked by J.T. Dutton. I've been fortunate enough to be part of the Class of 2k9, a group of middle grade and YA novelists who all have debut books coming out in 2009. Bull Rider (MG) and Freaked (YA) are the first two ARCs I've been able to get my hands on - and if these two are any indication of what's to come, I think you're going to be hearing some wonderful things about my 2k9 classmates' books! You can check them all out here.

6. How do you get your ideas? Do you use real events in your novels and if so, can you describe one?

I don’t seem to get my ideas so much as the ideas seem to get me! Many times they just pop into my head unannounced, like a wonderful gift, and I am simply compelled to write them down.

For my current work-in-progress, the idea came in a very vivid dream. Many times, I’ll start with the germ of an idea, or even just a theme, that isn’t fully formed, and I’ll keep thinking about it and thinking about it – sometimes for years -- before I’m ready to start writing.

I used the seeds of real events in When the Whistle Blows. They came from stories my father told me when I was a child, about things that happened when he was growing up Rowlesburg, West Virginia in the 1940's. One of those stories was about an old Irish wake, and how my grandfather and his buddies got the body of their friend up out of the casket, and . . . I don’t want to give away too much, because the fictionalized version of that story became the first full chapter in When the Whistle Blows.

I can just picture that scene...pretty funny!

7. Is When the Whistle Blows your first novel? It seems jammed pack with adventure and secrets and very exciting.
Yes, When the Whistle Blows is my first published novel. And you are right, the protagonist in the book – Jimmy Cannon – has a different adventure every year on Halloween, as he goes from the ages of twelve to eighteen. Most of those adventures surround a secret society that his father belongs to -- and that Jimmy wants to learn more about.

I found this book blurb: "When the Whistle Blows is reminiscent of classic tales by Jack London, William Golding and Robert Louis Stevenson, yet carries the remarkable, fresh voice of its author." -- Ellen Hopkins, best-selling author of Crank.

8. What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
Something not a lot of people know about me? I don’t know, I’m pretty much a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of person. But I guess a lot of people don’t know that I really don’t like wearing hose or high heels. In fact, it takes a lot for me to want to get dressed up. I like wearing jeans and sweatshirts most of the time. I’ve always been a tomboy at heart.

Me too!

9. Name a celebrity, you’d love to have as a BFF
Celebrity (the noun) is one thing I don’t really understand about our society here in the United States. Why, just because someone is famous, would I necessarily want them to be my best friend? I need to know a person to want to be friends with them. I think it’s almost impossible for a famous person to allow the general populace to know who they really are. They have a “persona” and an “image” to keep up – that’s how they make their money. Celebrity is all about what is seen on the outside. Friendship is all about intimacy and getting beyond the exterior to what’s really on the inside.

10. Listing if your favorites:
Type of shoe – sneakers & danskos
Candy – Reeses cups and Lindt Hazelnut truffles
Pizza topping – fresh tomato and garlic
Genre of books – literary middle grade and YA
Singer and/or Song – Bruce Springsteen/Glory Days
Restaurant – Chaps, Tubby’s, The Melting Pot, Duner’s, Downtown Grille – oh, there are too many to name!
TV show /Movie – I don’t have a favorite TV show because I don’t watch much TV. As far as movies: The Matrix, Stand By Me, Shrek.
Color – depends on what the color is on. I like butter colored walls, hazel eyes, blue jeans, and rosy sunsets over purple mountain majesty.

Check out my webpage for more info. Thanks again for interviewing me!

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

We all love each other at 2K9 and mutual praise comes easily, but I have to add my two cents that When the Whistle Blows is truly an amazing book. I was really intrigued by its narrative, which grew chapter by chapter as the main character aged. I loved the voice. I loved what I learned about setting. I could see this book being taught in lot of classrooms.