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Author Interviews

Interview: Sarah Ockler, author of ‘Twenty Boy Summer’

December 9, 2010

The amazing Sarah Ockler, author of such YA novels as Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah, has agreed to answer a few questions of mine! Many big thanks to Sarah for being so lovely and friendly, and of course, congratulations on the release of Fixing Delilah!

Q: Tell us about the first time you saw your book in a store

The first time I saw Twenty Boy Summer in the store, I was investigating rumors that it had made some early appearances a few weeks before the official release date, so Mom and I jumped in the car and headed out for Operation Book Stalk.

It was so surreal seeing that blue sea glass heart cover on the shelves next to some of my favorite YA authors — I felt like I was dreaming. I had butterflies inside and I just got seriously quiet, and then my mother proceeded to make a show of taking pictures and flagging down random customers to tell them about my book. It was quite mortifying, but also kind of cool. :-)

And even though more than a year has passed since that day, I think I’ll be just as excited to see Fixing Delilah on the shelves!

Q: Your novel, ‘Twenty Boy Summer‘, was caught up in the Scroggins debate. What was the hardest part about that for you?

The Scroggins episode in Republic, MO was the first time my book had been challenged. I wasn’t upset that a parent didn’t like the content of the book, but that he truly believed he could make a decision for an entire district — that he could tell other people’s kids what they’re not allowed to read. That floored me. That aside, I was pretty dumbfounded that he was making so many accusations out of context, and implying that I would do anything — even through writing — to potentially harm teens. I know he didn’t read any of the books he targeted — he simply flipped through with a highlighter, looking for “bad” words, insisting that it was inappropriate for teens.

That kind of head-in-the-sand approach is frightening on so many levels, because that’s exactly the kind of thinking that leads to prejudice, hate crimes, and wars. Grrr… I could go on about this forever, but if you want to read more about my thoughts on why book banning is so dangerous, check out these posts here:
What Censorship Teaches Kids
On Book Banning

Q: Are there any plans to continue the TBS story? If not, what would make you consider writing a second installment?

When I first wrote Twenty Boy Summer, I never intended on writing a sequel. I felt like I just wanted to tell the story of that particular summer in the girls’ lives, and leave the rest to readers’ imaginations. But since it came out, I’ve gotten so many emails and letters from readers asking for a sequel — everyone wants to know what happens next. So right now, while I’m not currently working on a new installment, never say never! ;-)

Q: Writing is almost always our most intimate thoughts and feelings on paper. Have you ever been a little embarrased or shy about someone you know personally reading your work?

Honestly? It *was* a bit awkward having my dad read Twenty Boy Summer! I had to keep reminding him that it was not a memoir of my own teenage years! That said, I’ve come to accept that the people who know me in real life — particularly, my parents — will always read my books with my voice in their heads, and will therefore assume that the stories are at least partially autobiographical, even when they’re not. I try not to think about it too much (and I hope that Dad totally skims over the steamy parts of Fixing Delilah)!

Q: How different is your second novel ‘Fixing Delilah‘ to ‘Twenty Boy Summer‘?

Readers who enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer will find similar things to like about Fixing Delilah, including portrayals of grief and loss, the meaning of friendship, flawed but loving families, big secrets, and of course, a sweet but sizzling romance! What’s different is that where Twenty Boy Summer focused on the relationship between two best friends, Fixing Delilah is largely about mothers and daughters, the imperfect bonds between women in a family, and what happens when deeply buried family secrets are suddenly forced into the light.

Q: Is there anything you’re working on after ‘Fixing Delilah’ is released? Can you tell us anything about it?

I tend to be pretty quiet about upcoming projects, but I will say that I’m working on another contemporary realistic young adult story, this time set in winter. Think cupcakes, ice skating, and adorable hockey boys, to start! ;-)

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