the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Estelle Laure and BUT THEN I CAME BACK!

Posted by Adi Rule on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 @ 07:04 AM

Today we're thrilled to be chatting with Estelle Laure, whose new young adult novel, But Then I Came Back, is out now from HMH Kids!

51leWWbcHAL.jpgFrom the author of This Raging Light comes the story of Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl who feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?

Welcome, Estelle! So, tell us . . .

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

My favorire character to write was Gigi. She’s based on a woman named George who was my grandmother’s best friend. I was fascinated with her when I was little. She read cards and her apartment was covered in owls, just like in the book, and she did really love rum. She died a long time ago. When my dad read it, he said it had been nice to see George again. Of course, unlike me, he grew up with her. That was a satisfying moment for me.

What was it like watching the cover design come together?

This time around, watching the cover design come together was incredibly special. I felt it matched the story and my personality. It gave me that oh my gosh they got it feeling. I love it so much I had the flower tattooed on my arm.

17800424_10156054007818146_3230195286363161037_n.jpegEstelle Laure and Jeff Zentner show off their book tattoos at the Nashville launch of But Then I Came Back

Tell us about your writing community.

Writing community is something I really need because I’m in New Mexico, basically on an island atop a mountain, and I can be really isolated. It turns out my VCFA classmates are still my best friends and where I always go when I need writing support. We do a pretty good job of showing up for each other, though I can’t be places physically much of the time because of my kids. For my launch, FIFTEEN VCFA classmates came from all over the country to Parnassus Books in Nashville. I’m way better at dealing with jerks than real open love, so I could barely handle it when we were there, and I only began to be able to process it after I got back. How totally incredible it was for all those people to make such a long journey to be of support. VCFA world domination. Ahem.

17523085_10154657734804195_679846343805998313_n.jpegVCFA love at the book launch!

What a wonderful surprise! Who were your advisors at VCFA?

My advisors were April Lurie, Amanda Jenkins, Martine Leavitt and Susan Fletcher. I also worked post grad with Martine on this book, and I can honestly say it would not exist without her.

What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?

For anyone getting ready for a first semester at VCFA I would say most writers are introverts. I have a terrible time at a party. I don’t talk to strangers or strike up chats on planes. But the best thing about VCFA is that because everyone there shares a deep love of the same thing, what could be awkward and difficult is remarkably easy. You arrive as strangers and you leave a family. I even briefly convinced myself I am not socially awkward. Not true in the real world. Very true at VCFA. Have faith. You are going to love everyone and everyone is going to love you. I don’t know how it works. It’s magic.

So true! Thanks a lot for stopping by, Estelle. Hooray for the release of But Then I Came Back!

Estelle Laure is a member of the January 2014 Magic Ifs! Visit her online at, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@starlaure).

Topics: young adult, HMH Books For Young Readers, Estelle Laure, HMH Kids, 2017 release


Posted by Sarah Johnson on Thu, Mar 05, 2015 @ 04:03 AM

Today we celebrate TWO new picture books by Kathi Appelt: When Otis Courted MaMa and Counting Crows. Both received a star from Kirkus Reviews!

Kathi is the New York Times best-selling author of over 40 books for children and young adults.  She lives in College Station, TX with her husband Ken and five gifted and talented cats. She also teaches on the faculty of VCFA. 

Counting Crows CoverOne, two, three crows in a tree.  Crows in red sweaters, nest and caw, gather snacks, and dodge a kitty’s paw.  How many crows take to the sky? Count all the crows and watch them fly!  Open and look to see just how this counting book is the cat’s meow.

What was the spark that ignited this book?

When it comes to the crows, I have to confess that I’m fascinated by crows.  And I do admire the name of the band, Counting Crows.  For years, I carried around this idea of a picture book that featured a set of crows who counted things.  They were “counting crows.”  Not multiplying crows or dividing crows, simply counting crows.  But it took me forever to figure what they were counting, and it took me longer to figure out the rhythm of the counting.  So, I had the idea in my head for probably ten years before I finally figured it out.  After that, it only took me a few days to put it together.  And of course, then came the revisions.  Ack!

When Otis Courted Mama cover

Apart from sticker burs and sand fleas, Cardell’s life is mostly wonderful.  He knows he’s loved through and through by his perfectly good mama and his perfectly good daddy.  They live in different parts of the desert, but that’s okay—Cardell is mostly used to it.  Then Otis comes calling, and Cardell feels a GRRR form in his throat.  Otis can’t make jalapeño flapjacks or play Zig-the-Zag anything like Cardell’s daddy.  And Cardell waits for Mama to say “Adios Otis.”  But what will happen if she doesn’t?

What was the spark that ignited this book?

When it came to OTIS, I had a terrific, funny and very kind stepfather.  One day, while I was working on my memoir, MY FATHER’S SUMMERS, and thinking about my father, it occurred to me that in children’s literature, the role of stepparent is usually that of the antagonist. And yet, in real life, there are a lot of very good stepparents who are doing a great job of it, and who are making a difference in the lives of their stepchildren. But they don’t show up much in our stories.  I thought it was time for some other character besides Cinderella’s hideous stepmother to make an appearance.  And I used my own stepfather George as a role model for Otis.


Screen Shot 2015 03 05 at 9.32.58 AM

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

I loved writing the character of Cardell in WHEN OTIS COURTED MAMA because he reminded me of myself after my parents divorced.  He very much wants his mama to be happy, but he’s worried about his own happiness too.  Can he share his mother?  Otis has to win him over, and it’s not easy for either of them.


What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

I love Cynthia Rylant for her everything.  For plot, it’s hard to beat Louis Sachar.  I think that HOLES is about as perfect as a book can be in that regard.  For character, it’s hard to beat Rita Williams-Garcia.  

What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

I try hard to make sure that my characters are acting.  I actually love it when they’re sitting on their hands doing a lot of woolgathering.  Why?  That’s what I like to do. But that usually doesn’t work out for readers.  We want characters who are moving—either forwards or backwards, doesn’t matter so long as they’re going somewhere and doing something.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing? 

Feral hogs.  I needed to know a few things about them for my book THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

The community of excellence that is VCFA has changed who I am as both a person and a writer.  

What is your favorite VCFA memory?

Listening to Alan Cumyn sing “Hallelujah."

What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?

Do it. 

What do you wish you had known before you first set foot on the VCFA campus?

That insulated boots are best for the winter.

Counting Crows graphic

Thanks for joining us today, Kathi.

Connect with Kathi on Facebook at

You can also visit her at her website:


Topics: 2015 release, picture book, Kathi Appelt, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HMH Books For Young Readers, Kirkus Star

Amy Rose Capetta and UNMADE!

Posted by Adi Rule on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 08:01 AM

Today the stars have aligned to bring us Unmade, the conclusion to Amy Rose Capetta's stellar YA novel Entangled (HMH Kids). Here are the details:

UNMADEcoverIn the universe-altering conclusion to Entangled, seventeen-year-old Cade has to turn her rock star talents to saving the human race from the Unmakers. As Cade struggles to stay close to her strong-willed crew and get even closer to Rennik, the ship’s fascinating and frustrating pilot, her life becomes a tangle of love, death, and lyrics.

We're singing a happy song today because Amy Rose is here! Welcome. So, tell us . . .

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Renna. Because writing about a living spaceship is the most fun I’ve ever had while doing something that can be defined as work. 

What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

Sentences: Jeanette Winterson. Shakespeare. Italo Calvino. Rainbow Rowell. 

Plot: Philip Pullman. Kristin Cashore. Cori McCarthy. 

Character: Melina Marchetta. A.S. King. Joss Whedon.

What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

Don’t be afraid to start over. Or—yes, be afraid, but do it anyway. If you know the story needs it. If trying to patchwork it will just give you a minimally better version of your fatally flawed draft. I NEVER would have been brave enough to do this on deadline if I hadn’t gone to VCFA. But when I sat down to revise, my gut was screaming. And VCFA taught me a lot of great nuance-y sophisticated writer things, but it also taught me to listen to that gut scream. I actually became a more instinctive writer by getting an MFA! I also became one who was brave and foolish enough to rewrite a 90,000 word novel in four months.

Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

space ship in video gameI have to send a huge YOU ARE AWESOME to whoever on facebook told me to listen to the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack while writing. It was just too perfect. I love the influences you can hear from cultures around the world that the composer drew on to create something that sounds familiar, but also futuristic and entirely its own. It was exactly what I needed for this story—that driving, intense outerspace thing, yes, but also the connection to Earth and and tradition and home. I couldn’t write these books in silence, because Entangled and Unmade are all about music. They started with one lonely punk rock girl in space, and grew from there. 

Are there any specific challenges to writing a duology as opposed to a trilogy or a standalone?

YES! As soon as I saw the ending of the second book, I knew I would give anything to get there. I really wanted to finish Cade’s story. There was one huge thing standing in my way. The beginning of the second book. The second half of Unmade is a downhill tumble toward the end—everything starts out bad and gets worse. But at the beginning, you have to reintroduce the characters and plot of the first book without being too redundant or killing the pace. And in a duology, the beginning of that second book is actually the middle of the big-story arc. Apparently middles are just as swampy and hard when they’re at the beginning of a book! And ending a series is sad, but also, in some ways, the best. Because I got to go to the end of the line with characters I already loved. It gave them time to grow and develop waaaay more than they could in the first book. And, as we all know, the longer people are on a very small spaceship together, the more likely they are to make out. (Bonus: my publisher refers to the series as a Space Duet, and I can’t get over how perfect that is.)

I love the term "Space Duet"! Let's use it often!

asteroid belt NASA resized 600

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

A day in the life of a VCFA junkie: Today I woke up, drank coffee out of my VCFA mug, worked on my manuscript which has already been beta-ed by one alum and will soon go out to another. Next I do work for my freelance job, which I only have because I moved to Austin and found the wonderful (VCFA-heavy) community down there. I edit other peoples’ work, which basically consists of writing packet letters! Oh, and over lunch I talked plot with my next door neighbor, who is also my best friend from the program. VCFA and my life are completely inextricable at this point. I love it.


Thanks so much for stopping by, Amy Rose. Welcome to the universe, Unmade! 

Amy Rose Capetta is a member of VCFA's Keepers of the Dancing Stars. Visit her online at! Also, be sure to check out her Tumblr collaboration with author Cori McCarthy on all things nerdlore and book love, the NerdBait Guide.

Topics: young adult, 2015 release, HMH Books For Young Readers, Amy Rose Capetta, HMH Kids

Amy Rose Capetta Talks ENTANGLED & Universe Building

Posted by Adi Rule on Sat, Nov 08, 2014 @ 07:11 AM


We are over the moon about the paperback release of Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). If you're just joining us, here are the details:

Entangled is the story of seventeen-year-old Cade, a fierce survivor who lives solo in the universe with her cherry-red guitar until she finds out she was created in a lab in the year 3112, then entangled at a subatomic level with a boy named Xan. Cade’s quest to locate Xan joins her with an array of outlaws on a galaxy-spanning adventure. And once Cade discovers the wild joy of real connection, there’s no turning back.

The rest of Cade’s story is coming in Unmade, which hits shelves January 13!

We're delighted to have Amy Rose with us today for a guest post. Read on for some awesome craft advice, an exclusive Entangled video, and a giveaway! :)

describe the image

Today I’d like to talk about universe building. 

And I’m going to tell my dirty, terrible secret. The one that I’m afraid I might blurt out every time someone asks me, “How did you come up with all of those crazy places in Entangled?

Well. Here’s the thing. Usually, when I write science fiction and fantasy, I do a huge amount of thinking and planning. There are notebooks devoted to it. There are character backstories and world backstories and elaborate setting descriptions and, yes, the mother of all worldbuilding delights—maps. 

With Entangled? I…um…didn’t do any of that. I made it up as I went along. 

To be fair to my earnest little self who sat down and started writing a few years ago, I thought I would get to the point where I would do all of that work. I figured I would hit a block (for me it usually happens between page twenty and forty) when I would have to stop and learn more about my story before I could tell it. But that didn’t happen. It just kept spilling out—which meant I had to keep up. I had to keep inventing, keep describing, keep churning out new cities and planets and creatures to live on them and histories to fit into my ever-expanding universe—and what’s more, I had to keep track of all of it. 

ARCAuthorPhotoI like to think of this a little bit like road trip style. I’ve always been the kind of person who wakes up, decides they want to go somewhere, and starts packing. No excess planning, no itineraries. Just adventure and maybe some snacks. (Okay, definitely snacks. Smartfood, probably.) So maybe it makes sense that this worked for me when I wrote Entangled. The only problem, where this metaphor can sort of break down when you try to apply it to writing, is the fact that you’re not just driving through the map. You’re also responsible for making it up. 

So there are really a few different ways to do this:

Make up the map AND plan the trip beforehand. This is the very adult, responsible way to approach novel writing and interstate travel. It’s entirely possible it results in fewer rounds of revision—or frantic calls to AAA.

You can try to plan the trip WITHOUT making up the map beforehand. This sounds utterly irresponsible. This is probably the best way to end up with a world that doesn’t work at all, or a car that has been driven off a cliff. (So of course, it’s how I’m writing my current WIP.)

And then there’s making up the map along the way, and deciding what the trip is as you go. This is how I wrote Entangled, and although it was kind of strange and wild and might not be repeatable (for me,) it was incredible fun. 

Of course, there are some restrictions. The world has to be consistent. It has to obey its own rules. It has to throw plenty of obstacles in the way of your main character. And here’s the big one: It has to keep from feeling episodic. That was the main problem with my rough draft of Entangled, and I had to do some digging in revision to find the driving force that would turn it from a series of linked adventures into, well, a book with a plot in it. 

If you’re interested in approaching a story this way, I do have a few craft tips.

#1) Know the big picture. 

You can fit ANYTHING in later if you have a really good handle on the big picture. In my case, this meant knowing that the universe was hostile to humans—that they were treated like space trash by every other species, and forced to the margins of civilization. I came up with many variations on this pattern, but knowing the pattern first was key.

#2) Don’t stop writing. 

If you lose your momentum, you will probably decide that it’s not working—even if it is. Making it up as you go along works with fast drafting, because your brain has to reach for solutions before you start to censor yourself. Again—it’s like setting out on that crazy road trip! If you didn’t plan, don’t give yourself time to second guess, because then you’ll never leave the house. Just grab the keys (and the snacks) and GO. You’ll make mistakes, but revisions are going to happen either way. And you might come up with some great surprises, like the unexpected stops and turns on a great road trip that you never could have planned.

#3) Know something about the ending. 

You don’t have to have the entire thing. Just the name of the place, the feeling you want, where you think the character should be at the end. But keeping the middle from getting mushy can have everything to do with knowing where you want to be—and being excited to get there. This reminds me of the time when I lived in sunny Northern California and I took a road trip to see the snow. This was the only goal: I wasn’t going to stop until I reached the fluffy white stuff and the wonder and awe that come along with it. It’s still one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. 


To get a taste of the universe building in Entangled, watch the EXCLUSIVE clip!


Be sure to enter this

*   *   *   Rafflecopter giveaway   *   *   *

for your chance to win one of five signed paperbacks of Entangled

(with a secret note about the sequel!).

Topics: young adult, HMH Books For Young Readers, guest post, Amy Rose Capetta

ENTANGLED is in Paperback!

Posted by Adi Rule on Tue, Nov 04, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

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Amy Rose Capetta's YA novel Entangled (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is out today in paperback! This stunning debut is gorgeous inside and out. Amy Rose will be stopping by later in the week, so check back!

Topics: young adult, HMH Books For Young Readers, paperback release, Amy Rose Capetta

Roundup - Bank Street Honors VCFA Authors, Book Deals & More

Posted by Tami Brown on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 @ 06:06 AM

wolf silhoette moon background

It may be Friday the thirteenth (and a full moon at that!) but at VCFA it's our lucky day!

Bank Street College of Education recently released its list of Best Books of 2014 and there are a slew of familiar Vermont College of Fine Arts names on the list. Check out this honor roll of VCFA writers!

senorpancho vampirebaby cowboyup yeslets robotgobot penelopecrumb psbeeleven thevinebasket describe the image parched formerlysharkgirl 45pounds

Señor Pancho Had a Rancho by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Elwood Smith (Holiday House). Old MacDonald and Señor Pancho both have a lot of noisy farm animals in this festive, bilingual sing-a-long. Lively ink and watercolor illustrations

Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press). Big brother is certain that his baby sister—who chomps everything in sight—must be a vampire, so he tries to find the right home for her. Humorous mixed-media color illustrations.

Cowboy Up!: Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood, photographs by Jan Sonnenmair (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press/Highlights) A day of roping and riding competitions at a rodeo is depicted through photographs, poetry, and prose.

Yes, Let’s by Galen Goodwin Longstreth, illustrated by Maris Wicks (Tanglewood) A family trip to the woods, including a hike, a picnic, and swimming, packs a lot of fun into one day. Colorful, humorous illustrations.

Robot, Go Bot! by Dana Meachen Rau, illustrated by Wook Jin Jung (Random House). Simple words, in comic-style balloons, tell the engaging story of a bossy girl and her robot.

Penelope Crumb Never Forgets by Shawn K. Stout, illustrated by Valeria Docampo (Philomel Books/Penguin) When a quirky, spirited girl establishes her Ultra Museum of Forget-Me-Notters, her choice of objects to represent her loved ones causes havoc. Black-and-white puppet-like illustrations.

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad Press/HarperCollins) Life gets complicated for the Gaither sisters in 1968 Brooklyn—Dad’s in love, uncle Darnell’s home from Vietnam, and the Jackson Five are coming to town.

The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley (Clarion/HMH) Mehrigul, a Uyghur farm girl and gifted basketmaker, longs to go back to school but must battle her aggressive father, her depressed mother, and the Chinese rulers who have invaded her homeland.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing) Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn, along with the Sugar Man and two raccoons, must save the Texas swamp and its rare inhabitants from animal and human predators. Fast-paced and funny.

Parched by Melanie Crowder (Harcourt Children’s Books/HMH) Sarel and Musa use their knowledge of the land to survive after the violent deaths of family members and abuse by gang members brought on by a devastating drought.

Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham (Candlewick Press) Jane, a high school senior recovering from the loss of her arm from a shark attack, discovers her special talents as well as her responsibilities to herself and others. Told in narrative verse. (Sequel to Shark Girl)

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson (Viking/Penguin) Emotional eater Ann has allowed her weight to control her life, until she is faced with her aunt’s wedding. She then acquires a greater understanding of her family.


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Hailed for its creepy cool cover (we think it's a twisted tip of the hat to Downton Abbey!) Fuse #8's blog at School Library Journal featured Julie Berry's upcoming release The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (Roaring Brook Press).

cvr9781442412675 9781442412675 lg

With months still to go before its publication date, Dianne White's Blue On Blue (Beach Lane Press) has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Way to go, Dianne! This is the first of many accolades this beautiful book will receive!


sparklespa magicmakeover 215x320

Happy launch week to Makeover Magic, the third book in Jill Santopolo's delightful Sparkle Spa series! Jill stopped by The Launchpad to talk about this series back in March -- read about it here if you missed it!

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A. B. Westrick's critically acclaimed middle grade novel Brotherhood (Viking 2013) is out this week in paperback!

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Coretta Scott King/Steptoe Award winner Kekla Magoon's The Guerilla Life of Manolo Cabesas, the story of a rural teen's transformation into a hardened soldier for a rebel army in South America, to Andrea Tompa at Candlewick, by Michelle Humphrey at the Martha Kaplan Agency (World). Congratulations, Kekla!!

Cynthia Surrisi sold her debut middle-grade mystery, The Maypop Kidnapping to Carolrhoda. It's set in a small coastal Maine village filled with eccentric locals; when 13-year-old Quinnie's beloved teacher goes missing, Quinnie leads a relentless, sometimes misguided search – against her mother's orders and it's scheduled for publication in 2015! Hooray Cynthia!

Erin Hagar sold a biography that's sure to be near and dear to our hearts-- and tummies! Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures, beautifully illustrated and aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, will be published next spring by DUOPRESS Books. We can't wait, Erin. Bon Appetit! 

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And last but not least...

The deadline for the Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain is fast approaching! (June 30th) Enter your Young Adult, Middle Grade, or Picture Book manuscripts (up to 10,000 words). This year's judge is Katherine Applegate, Newbery-winning author of The One and Only Ivan and dozens of other books. There's a $1000 first prize, and past winners have found literary agents and ultimately sold books to major presses following the publication of their winning pieces at Hunger Mountain. Please visit Hunger Mountain at for guidelines.

Topics: Candlewick Press, Holiday House, Elwood Smith, 2014 release, round-up, Shawn K. Stout, Philomel, Penguin Random House, Kathi Appelt, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HMH Books For Young Readers, A. B. Westrick, Kekla Magoon, Kelly Bingham, Paul Meisel, Roaring Brook Press, Viking, 2013 release, Jan Sonnenmair, Maris Wicks, Cynthia Surrisi, Kelly Bennett, Nancy Bo Flood, Wordsong, Amistad Press, K. A. Barson, Random House, congratulations, Julie Berry, Melanie Crowder, Rita Williams-Garcia, Rene Colato Lainez, Jill Santopolo, Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Dianne White, Valeria Docampo, Beach Lane Books, Boyds Mills Press, Highlights, Galen Goodwin Longstreth, Tanglewood, Josanne La Valley, Clarion, Dana Meachen Rau, Wook Jin Jung

Ed Briant, Lisa Clough and PETAL AND POPPY

Posted by Tami Brown on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 08:04 AM

The Launchpad welcomes Ed Briant, a Summer '06 alum, and former faculty member Lisa Clough. Ed and Lisa have co-authored and illustrated the new Petal and Poppy series, with books one and two, Petal and Poppy and Petal and Poppy and the Penguin launching this week!

About Ed and Lisa: Ed Briant: Tim Wynne Jones once referred to me as a strange and talented man. There's little I could add to that. Lisa Clough: Lisa is an author, illustrator, and professor. She is talented, but not at all strange.

Petal and PoppyPetal and Poppy are best friends. Sometimes they disagree. But they can always count on each other when the waters get rough!

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Petal (the elephant): she is such a whiner, and yet she is hilarious. Totally over-the-top. I've never worked on an over-the-top character before, and I loved drawing her and working on her dialogue, just making her reactions sillier and sillier.

What was the spark that ignited this book?

I think the characters are myself and Lisa. All the plots are highly autobiographical, but I won't say which character is which.

What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

I love the romantic poets, especially Keats, Coleridge, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Plotters: Steven King, HP Lovecraft, Karen Russel, Jennifer Egan. Characters: I love evil characters: Robert Cormier, Elmore Leonard, George RR Martin, and Neil Gaiman all create delightfully wicked characters. Haruki Murakami for more quirky characters. Deb Wiles and Rita Williams Garcia for lovable characters. 

describe the imageWhat nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

Using index cards (from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird). I use index cards for as long as I can. Keeps the writing minimal, and keeps the plot clear. If you don't have a good plot you're wasting your time with all the fancy stuff that goes on top.

Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

I listen a lot to the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi who does the soundtracks for the Miyazaki movies. Or classical piano music. My favorites are Liszt and Chopin. I also like orchestral works by Bruckner.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing?

What is a hurdy gurdy? I've probably searched for weirder things, but that the weirdest that comes to mind.

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

Tim Wynne Jones, Lisa Clough, Jane Resh Thomas, and Mark Aronson.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

Gave me a fantastic, supportive, caring writing community.

What is your favorite VCFA memory?

Surviving my critical thesis semester with Mark Aronson (just kidding).

What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?

If you have the opportunity, then take it. It will transform you in ways you cannot imagine (in good ways).

What do you wish you had known before you first set foot on the VCFA campus? 

When I started it had been about twenty years since I'd taken a writing class. I wish I'd just taken some basic composition and grammar classes before I started.

Ed Briant

Lisa Clough 

Petal and Poppy (series) (HMH Books For Young Readers, 2014)

Topics: 2014 release, HMH Books For Young Readers, Ed Briant, early reader, Lisa Clough

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