Sunday, February 14, 2010

YAedge Feature Author: Joy Preble

On this fine Valentine's Day we're fortunate to have young adult author, Joy Preble, hanging with us and chatting about bookish stuff.
Cause we all LOVE books. ;)
Her novel, Dreaming Anastasia, is a magical read - full of folklore, history, and a budding romance. As Class of 2k10 authors, Kitty Keswick and I (aka Judith Graves) were matched up with Joy, a Class of 2k9 author, as our mentor. It's wonderful to have Joy as a resource on marketing, how to survive your debut well as a champion in our ring.
She's been an amazing support for us. Thanks, Joy!

Here's the blurb for DA:

Sixteen year old Anne thinks her life is pretty ordinary – until she smacks into handsome, mysterious, and okay, annoying Ethan on her way to chemistry class.

Now Anne has powers she doesn’t understand, a history altering mission she may not want, and a growing attraction to this blue-eyed stranger. And Ethan- who at eighteen made some choices he’s starting to regret – realizes that Anne is the girl for whom he’s been searching – for a very, very long time. Stir in doomed Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia – who is definitely not quite as dead as the history books say – and Baba Yaga, the legendary witch from Russian folklore, and you’ve got DREAMING ANASTASIA, a contemporary YA fantasy that alternates between the voices of Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia as Anne and Ethan join forces to battle the bad guys and save Anastasia.

Only problem is – no one’s quite sure who’s really bad and who’s good. And everyone has some secrets.

And the questions we asked Joy:

As well as a writer, you’re a high school English teacher. Ah…the ultimate career for a YA author. You get to immerse yourself in trenches of teen angst. What is your all-time favourite title to cover with classes?

You know before I answer that last part, let me say that I am not totally sure that teaching English is the perfect YA author career. Both professions take immense amounts of energy and creativity and I so sometimes find that when I’m on a deadline or my own stories are swirling in my brain, it’s hard to work up sufficient interest in, say, grading Antigone essay tests.  But back to what you asked, I really do have lots of favorites. If I had to pick only one, I’d say The Great Gatsby, which I honestly believe is the best American novel ever. I actually haven’t taught it in a long while and I miss it! But you’re right about the angst. I’ve got a front row seat every day. Sometimes it gets a tad crazy…

To promote your debut novel, you took the blogging world by storm, doing a whirlwind 70 blog tour. How did you manage to keep your answers fresh and interesting?

Well, that’s the thing about 70 stops – even if the answers aren’t fresh, you kind of forget by the time you get to the end! Joking aside, it was tough sometimes, but bloggers began to be fond of my guest posts, so that gave me some freedom to mix things up a bit. I’d answer questions for some; talk about the debut author journey for others; discuss the genre blending aspects of the novel with others. It really was kind of a mixture and that helped. But I definitely ‘owned’ the internet for a while back in September! Publicist Paul and I just really clicked and once we got going planning, the whole thing kind of snowballed. It was work, but it was really a lot of fun!

What character from Dreaming Anastasia do you identify with the most?

I identify with different pieces of many of them, actually. I definitely relate to Ethan’s need for a second chance at his life. (can’t say too much here without getting too spoilery) Being a debut author after having spent some years in the classroom is like a second act for me, so I definitely feel that aspect of his character. I like Anne because she is as brave as I would like to be. And I definitely enjoy Tess’s lack of filter; I can honestly say she’s the part of me that likes to call it like I see it. (Tess is always fun to write because the girl has no filter. She just says what she thinks and lets the chips fall where they may. I can’t always do that in real life, but I wish I could!)

Was it difficult to keep the legendary Rasputin as an incidental character in Dreaming Anastasia? And have you listened to the Boney M song yet? (Joy recently informed me she wasn’t familiar with the tune – how was this possible?!)

Wow, Judith (aka Tracy)! 70 blog tour stops and no one asked me that question! At least not that I remember… The answer is no, it wasn’t really difficult. He just never seemed to emerge in my imagination as a major piece of the plot, even though he is mentioned here an there, particularly in Anastasia’s diaries. This was always Anne and Ethan and Anastasia’s story and I associate Rasputin (fascinating fellow that he was!) more with Nicholas and Alexandra. Plus, honestly, he’s been used so much that I wanted to do a different take on things. Although now that the Boney M song is stuck in my head…

We learn what really happened to Anastasia through a series of letters that appear throughout the book. How much research did you do in order to write them with such a realistic voice for Anastasia?

A lot, actually, and thanks for enjoying her voice. I tried very hard to create a voice for Anastasia that reflected not only her personality but also the time and place in which she lived. I read a number of biographies and on line sources, and tried to use small details – such as how she and her sisters referred to themselves as OTMA – to create a realistic character. Let me also remind you that while that part of the novel can be categorized as historical fiction, I have – at some crucial points – also created an alternate history within the fantasy elements. So not everything that happens in the novel is absolutely as it happened historically nor is it meant to be. Occasionally people have questioned those aspects – I think in part because the Romanov story just inspires such strong emotions in people - which has been curious to me since no one ever says, hey, Anastasia didn’t really get carried away by a witch named Baba Yaga. But most of my readers seem aware that I’ve taken some literary license.

What’s next on the writing front? Anything you like to share?

I’ve been working on a lot of projects since I first sold Dreaming Anastasia back in the end of 2007. Right now I’m thrilled to say that I am finishing up the second book in the Dreaming Anastasia series, and that it’s currently set for release in 2011! Dreaming Anastasia is actually in its third printing since September and I’m hoping that readers will be just as enthusiastic with book 2. The Anne and Ethan romance is definitely about to heat up. Plus there’s a malevolent Russian mermaid called a rusalka. And Tess will be back. Also Baba Yaga. And… well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

For more information on Joy and updates on Haunted (can't wait to get a sneak peek at the cover!), check out her website. And for fun, here's Boney M's Rasputin for ya. ;)


Leah Cypess said...

Great interview! And Baba Yaga in a book? That makes it a must-read.

Denise Jaden said...

Congrats on the 3rd printing, Joy! And the second sale! And thanks for the great interview.

Anonymous said...

This was a great interview. I'm definitely going to check out DA.

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Wonderful opportunity to learn more about Joy and her work. Thanks, YA Edge!

Janet Fox said...

I loved DA! And can't wait to read the next book. Mermaids - wow. Wonderful interview - thanks!