Tuesday, November 24, 2009

INTERVIEW: Kristina Springer - Author of Young Adult Fiction

Welcome to “Up Close and Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing their views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.

Today’s interview is with Kristina Springer. Her debut novel, Espressologist, is about a 17-year-old teenager with an unusual talent. The teen, Jane Turner, takes people watching in a Chicago coffee shop, where she is a barista, to a new level. Moving from the sublime to the surreal, she explores her ability to "match make" by observing nuances in the way customers take their coffee. The premise is a clever twist, and perhaps social commentary, on the coffee phenomena, and the art of people watching.

Inspiration for the book came from Ms. Springer's personal coffee shop experience.
In fact most of the manuscript was penned while the author observed customers as they performed this seemingly benign ritual unaware that every flavor-adding-impulse was being translated into a greater meaning with life altering implications.

Ms. Springer has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education from Illinois State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Writing from DePaul University. She lives in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois with her husband, and their four small children.

She is currently working on a new novel, My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours, which due for release in 2010.

E.I. Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager? What were you like? Please tell us more about Kristina Springer-- the woman behind the “Espressologist” novel that is being compared to Jane Austen’s writing.

KS I was silly mostly. I often had crushes on cute boys, I loved hanging out with my friends, I was in the swing choir (dancing and singing. We were so NOT Glee. Glee would have kicked our butts big time), I played flute in the band, I loved being in the musicals, and I worked part-time at a grocery store.

E.I. What is it about the art form of writing that enchants you the most?

KS I love seeing where a story is going to go! The first draft for me is always very freeing. And I love surprising myself too. Often when I reread something I wrote I'm shocked that I actually wrote it.

E.I. How do you imagine audience as you are writing? Do you try to do character development, chapter outlines, various novel-related brainstorming? Do you have sheets of newsprint covered in a story boards all over your walls?

KS I write for myself but I also write for my audience. I was a technical writer for years and with that you are always just writing for your audience-- never for yourself. So you need to constantly think about what their needs are. But with fiction you are mostly writing what you enjoy. I try to keep a balance of both. And regarding storyboards etc., no-- I don't really have them all over the walls or anything. When I outline (which I do more of now then when I first started writing) I just enter everything into a chapter by chapter outline in a word doc. And when I'm brainstorming I type out notes into another document (usually always cleverly titled notes.doc) or I write them down on post-its, backs of receipts, pieces of junk mail etc.

E.I. What was your biggest challenge in developing the character, Jane Turner and her friend, Em in your book “Espressologist”? Did you work them out in advance, or did they evolve as you wrote the story? How did you overcome these challenges?

KS I don't recall any big challenges when writing Jane and Em. And honestly this book sort of flew out of me. This was one of the times when I didn't outline or plan. I just showed up at Starbucks a few nights a week and wrote whatever I felt like at that time. And the words always came easily to me. There wasn't a time where I really got stuck or didn't know where to go next with the book.

E.I. How much of their life is planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go next with any of your characters?

KS Like I mentioned above, with this book I didn't pre-plan anything. In the first book I ever wrote (never published) I did do the character sketches with each character and I knew their whole lives. But with The Espressologist I learned about them as I wrote them. Of course now I love them and I can see their futures clearly in my head so who knows, maybe someday I'll write another Espressologist book.

E.I. If you were asked to read a page from “Espressologist” is there one that you would personally select to share with your fans?

KS Oh, that's a hard one! Maybe the first page to hook them and hope they want to read more. Or maybe halfway down pg 24 through to page 25 where Jane first gets the idea for Espressology.

E.I. How do you weave so much elements of information into your stories and yet you keep them so fast-paced?

KS I naturally write very fast-paced stories. So I just go with it and when I'm finished I go back and add in the needed details.

E.I. Many writers describe themselves as "character" or "plot" writers. Which are you? And what do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

KS I'm definitely plot driven. Once I get a story in my head I'm writing it as fast I can and then I go back and add in the quirks and details. I'd say the hardest part for me is revision. It always takes me awhile to see how something should be different or could be better.

E.I. Ms. Springer, you are well known in the writing community as a YA writer. Do you ever feel pressure or insecure, or are you able to separate all that from your own creative process?

KS I'd say I totally seperate myself from it. When I'm writing I'm just thinking about the story and getting it out onto the screen. Writing is my little escape so I'm not generally letting the rest of the world in while I do it.

E.I. What would you tell those authors considering applying to an M.F.A. program? In your opinion how important is it for a writer to have a writing degree?

KS I think it depends on what you're going to do with it. You don't need a M.F.A. to publish a book. But if you want to learn more about writing and editing and publishing or if you want to teach someday then it's worth it. I loved my Master in Writing program just because I learned so much more than I ever imagined.

E.I. Thank you for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know your work a little better. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?

KS Don't quit. If you're dream is to have a published book then you must always, always, always, push ahead no matter what. It's ok if 10, 100, 200, or whatever number of people reject you. Let it roll off your back and just keep trying. It really only takes one yes. And during that time that you're trying your writing will only keep getting better.

Thanks so much for having me!

To learn more about Kristina Springer please visit her WEBSITE
To purchase her books please visit AMAZON and Barnes & Noble

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