Thursday, November 08, 2007

WBBT Interview: Laura Amy Schlitz

Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama, a delicious Gothic children's tale. The book won the first ever Cybils Award for middle grade fiction. Other books include The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village.
Read the poem by Charles Kingsley that opens the book.

Which of your characters in A Drowned Maiden’s Hair did you have the most fun writing?

Maud. I loved Maud. I don’t know where she came from, but I always knew how she felt and what she would say. I never had to invent her or puzzle her out. I just had to watch her and write everything down.

Is there a particular scene in A Drowned Maiden’s Hair that you especially loved writing?

I loved the scenes that took place at the ocean. A Drowned Maiden’s Hair is a very claustrophobic book. Maud is always shut up somewhere: in the outhouse, in the attic, in the map closet. After a while, I began to share her sense of being trapped. Writing about the ocean felt so spacious.

Due to all the theatrics involved in the story of Drowned Maiden, I’m wondering if you have any background in theatre?

That’s a perceptive question. Yes, I do—I fell in love with theatre when I was in my first play. I was eight years old and I had a great entrance. I ran full speed through the audience shouting, “Mama! Papa! I’ve been chased by wolves!” Afterward, I made up my mind to become an actress, and in fact I’ve done a lot of acting—mostly amateur, but some professional. I’ve also sewed costumes, painted scenery, and written plays.

What was your education like?

I went to public school for elementary and high school. I had good teachers—my English teachers were especially good. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Aesthetics from Goucher College.

What are you reading right now?

I’m in the middle of Ken Follett’s “World Without End”. There are two villains in it that I’d like to strangle with my bare hands.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read. I love making things: bread, watercolor pictures, origami animals, quilts, marionettes. I do a little not-very-serious gardening. I enjoy conversation with friends. Occasionally I like to cook.

What can readers look forward to next?

I have a new book out—a retelling of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, called “Bearskinner” with gorgeous brooding pictures by Max Grafe. I’m also working on a Victorian Gothic. After that, who knows? I tend to write out of my obsessions, and obsessions are unpredictable.

What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

I can think of three things I really love about being a writer (and a great many things I don’t, but you didn’t ask me that.) I love it when the story tells itself to me. I love it when the finished book comes out and I get to hold it in my hands. And I love it when a child reads my book and says, “That was the best book!” and I hear the italics around the word “best”.

Thank you so much, Laura!

The rest of today's Winter Blog Blast Tour interviews:

David Mack at Chasing Ray
Paul Volponi at The Ya Ya Yas
Elizabeth Knox at Shaken & Stirred
Ellen Emerson White at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy
Jack Gantos at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
David Levithan at Not Your Mother's Book Club
Micol Ostow at Bildungsroman
Kerry Madden at Hip Writer Mama
Sherman Alexie at Interactive Reader


Sherry said...

Very fun interview! Thank you both.

Sara said...

I liked that you asked her about theater! I can't wait to see Bearskinner.

Traci said...

I really need to read that book.... Very good interview, Erin!

HipWriterMama said...

Another book I need to read. My list keeps growing!