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A teacher's opinions on YA literature and the state of public education in America.

Interview with Sonya Sones

I’ve had this interview for a while, but with the perils of pregnancy, I’ve just been too sick to post. But I’m back, and I’m thrilled to be getting the ball rolling with one of my favorites: Sonya Sones! Her books What My Mother Doesn’t Know and What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know are books that I routinely offer in literature circles, and I know first-hand what they mean to kids. That’s why I’m super-thrilled to feature this interview on my blog. So thanks, Sonya, for giving me some of your time (time in which you should have been writing, right?).

Here we go:

When and why did you begin writing books for teens?
I wrote my first book for teens in 1999. I had tried to write books for younger children (when my children were younger) but didn’t get good enough to be published until my children were teens. And that was when I discovered that I was really much more comfortable writing in the voice of a teen.

How often have you faced censorship and how have you dealt with it?

I have faced censorship a LOT. In fact, my book WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW was on the American Library Association’s list of the Top Ten Most Banned Books in 2004, 2005, and 2010! It was also on the ALA’s list of the Top 100 Most Banned Books of the Decade! I love it when my book gets on those lists, because that means that I often get asked to speak about why books shouldn’t be banned.

When I hear that my book is being challenged, I contact the school or library where the challenge is being made, and I offer to defend my book with a written statement. Of course, it never helps, because the people who ban books are not very smart, and it’s darned near impossible to change their minds. But at least I get to publicly make a case for why books shouldn’t be banned, and hopefully my words reach some children and teenagers, who are still young enough to be open to hearing them.

In six words, would you tell us why you write YA?

I have never really grown up.

What’s been your biggest struggle as a writer?

Getting distracted by the internet! In fact, there is even a poem about that in my brand new novel in verse, THE HUNCHBACK OF NEIMAN MARCUS. It’s my first novel in verse for grownups. But there is a 17-year-old girl in the story, so I’m hoping that teens and their mothers will both like it. You can read about it here: http://www.sonyasones.com/books/hunchback/a_syn_book.html.

And here is that poem I just mentioned about being distracted by the internet. Holly is a writer, way behind on her deadline for a book:

New Year’s Resolution

I, Holly Miller, hereby swear


that I will never again


allow myself to be lured away


from my writing






by clicking


on those hideous headlines


that litter my computer screen


like landmines waiting to be stepped on.






So I am not going to click


on the article about the nasty insults


that Anderson Cooper slung at a celebrity mom


that prompted her to lash out.






Though I’m dying to know


which celebrity mom it was


and exactly what she and Anderson


said to each other.






And I am not


going to click on the article


about the location


of America’s greatest bathroom






(which


apparently was found


when “Pros Flushed Far and Wide


to Find the Best Spot to Tinkle”).






And even though


I do remember Ann-Margret


and I’m yearning to see


how she looks at sixty-seven,






I am not


going to click on the link.


I am not!


I am NOT!










Wow…






She looks good…

This was such a fun, and long-awaited, interview. Thanks so much, Sonya, for agreeing to interview at For the Love of YA, for being a champion of YA literature, and for giving us a piece from your newest book The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, which I am on my way to pick up this weekend. See you around the writing world!

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