First of all, I want you thank you, David, for being one of the first to come to my aid during the censorship battle that raged from 2008-2010 in my former school. Your intense understanding of the infrastructure of public schools, as well as your prowess in the field of YA literature, was such a help and inspiration to me.
And congratulations to you for the success of your first published YA novel: an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Kirkus Best Book 2009, Bank Street Best Books of the Year 2010, and NYPL Stuff for the Teen Age 2010. That’s quite impressive for a first publication!
My book club ordered Soul Enchilada in October 2009, right after its release, and just in time for Halloween. The ambiance of the season made it a great literary experience for the students!
I hope some of those students find their way to this blog, as I know they’d love to read the answers to some of the very questions they asked me about you (many of my questions are actually theirs;).
1.) Where the devil did you get the idea to write Bug’s story of fighting demons?
2.) Call me a lightweight, but the scene with Bug and Beals in the gas station made me sleep with the lamp on. Have any of your readers shared similar stories with you?
3.) The inclusion of Hispanic culture in this book is part of what made it so good and different: the language was fun, the food smelled great, and the cultural experiences were so interesting to read. What experiences influenced your decision to write about this scene?
4.) Soul Enchilada was your first published work, but how important has writing been to you over the years?
5.) Has your involvement with ALAN (as former president and constant supporter) influenced your career as a writer?
6.) Because of the heavy-yet-humorous spiritual material–Bug’s annoyance with the minions of Hell, Pesto’s witchy Mama conducting a seance, and of course Bug’s grandfather having sold his soul to El Diablo–I’m wondering if you anticipate, or have experienced, any censorship yet? If so, how have you dealt with that?
7.) One thing I found so interesting–and applaudable–was the lack of stereotypes in Soul Enchilada. One would imagine that a book about Hell would yield a cheesy amount of good versus evil, of traditionally-garbed priests exorcising Bug’s vehicle, of Christian folklore/superstition being predominant; instead, you steered us into the unknown with the tactics of the International Supernatural Immigration Service. How difficult was it to shake your preconceived notions of fighting evil to create a unique plot?
8.) What was the most difficult aspect of writing the content of Soul Enchilada?
9.) How many revisions did it take to get your first work ready for publishing?
10.) What are you currently writing and when can we expect to find it on the shelves?
Ready for some quick-recall?
Favorite movie? Alien
Favorite food? Pizza
First book that made a difference in your life? A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Colleges and Universities you went to? University of Tennessee
What music is in your vehicle player right now? Dixie Chicks and Foo Fighters
Where do you write best? On my laptop in the middle of a bustling room full of noise that I can ignore while writing. It’s the act of purposely blocking out the sound that helps me concentrate best.
Thank you, David, for a great interview! I can’t wait to read Black Hole Sun!