Julie Schumacher is the September, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob and she has agreed to answer some questions about her new book, The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls. Read on to discover the story behind The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls and to find how she balances teaching and writing. Julie also shares how she chose what books the girls in her YA novel would read in their "Unbearable book club" and gives us the dish on her newest book. Read on and enjoy!
Welcome to BookSnob Julie,
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Delaware but have lived in Minnesota for 25 years. I've got three cats. I adore raspberries and chocolate. There is nothing I would rather do than sit on the screen porch and read a good book.
2. What inspired you to write to The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls?
My editor at Delacorte suggested the idea of a mother-daughter book club novel. At first I didn't like the idea and told her I wasn't interested; but then I began to think about a book club that none of its members would want to belong to -- and that struck me as a promising way to begin.
3. Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer?
I've always wanted to write and loved to write. But I credit some of my teachers in high school, who encouraged me and praised my efforts -- which meant a lot. In college, I worked on the school paper and thought about becoming a journalist; but I soon learned that I only enjoyed writing when I could make things up on my own, instead of reporting the facts. After that, "becoming a writer" mainly meant that I refused to give up.
4. Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book. Did you do that?
Sure. Always. But "experiences" is a broad term. I remember learning to read when I was young, at first finding that the printed page was just a gray impenetrable block; but gradually the block gave way, and I was *inside* what I was reading, as if I'd walked through a door. I made that Adrienne's experience in *The Unbearable Book Club.* Memories and details like that filter their way in to whatever I'm working on.
5. Do you like to read? What authors or books influence you?
Looooove to read. I feel itchy and unsatisfied if I'm not reading or about to read something. I think every book I love has influenced me -- some in ways I can't point to directly.... And, like Wallis in *The Unbearable Book Club,* I often think about the Rule of 3,000 -- that is, I read a book a week, on average, which is only 50 (approximately) books per year, which over a 60-year adult reading lifespan is only 3,000 books. Horrors! I was stricken when I did that math. Only 3,000 books? That's not nearly enough.
6. How do carve out time in your day to write when you are busy teaching college? Are you writing another book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I don't teach during the summer, and I do a lot of writing then. And I don't watch TV (frankly, I don't know how to work a TV anymore) or download movies, and that opens up some time in the schedule. Right now, I'm just finishing a novel for adults called *Dear Committee Members,* which is about a very irritable English professor. It'll be published in late summer 2014.
7. Have your students read your book? What is their reaction to having a published author as a Creative Writing teacher?
I think some of my students have read some of my books, but I certainly wouldn't press them to do so. My main advice to students who want to become writers is that they read widely -- all different types of books and authors -- and read a lot. Bring a book with you wherever you go.
I don't think in terms of lessons or ideas when I write. I think in terms of characters and emotions. I would hope [oops -- sorry about italics here; I don't know where they came from and I can't turn them off] that readers might identify with Adrienne and her feeling of being "formless" or uncertain; or spend time worrying about poor strange little Wallis; or compare notes with the characters in the novel about what it actually feels like to tumble into a book and live inside it.
9. How did you decide what books the girls would read in their “unbearable book club”?
That was a struggle. I began with a long list, and I re-read a lot of books, looking for novels that would be able to connect to the lives and experiences of the characters I was creating. I originally wanted them to read at least 8 books, but the plot became too difficult to manage, so I cut the reading list down. I considered and cut *The Diary of Anne Frank*, Helen Keller's* My Life*, Edith Wharton's *Ethan Frome,* Toni Morrison's *The Bluest Eye,* and others.
10. Tell us in one sentence why we should read The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls?
Because it's a funny, snarky novel about reading -- both for bookworms and for those who find bookworms to be unbearable people.
If you would like to win a copy of Julie's book, The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls please click here: The Unbearable Book Club Giveaway