Monday, December 21, 2009

INTERVIEW: Young Adult Writer Josie Bloss, Author of Band Geek

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 Josie Bloss. She grew up in East Lansing and attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She was a member of the best college marching band in the country and a staff reporter for the Michigan Daily and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

After obtaining a degree in Political Science, she tried to decide if she wanted to be a lawyer while wrangling paper in several large Chicago law firms that are attempting to take over the world. Finding herself uninspired by global domination, she decided to relocate to somewhere more quiet and write instead.

When not mining her high school journals for material and wishing there were marching band options for adults, Josie enjoys obsessing over various TV shows, karaoke and all things theater. Josie Bloss lives in Bloomington, IN.

E.I. Tell us about your book “Band Geeked Out” for young adult? What inspired you to write it and what drew you to attract the YA readers?

JB: BAND GEEKED OUT is the sequel to my first novel, BAND GEEK LOVE. It follows the main character, Ellie Snow, as she navigates the tricky time around making decisions about college. Everyone in her life has an opinion about what she should do, and Ellie has to figure out how to stay true to herself. Writing about that time of life is very interesting to me, since it's the stage a lot of teenagers are making their first big decisions about what to do with their lives. That's what I love about YA lit in general...there are so many "firsts" to explore.

E.I. What was your biggest challenge or obstacle while writing and creating the characters Ellie Snow, Alex, and Connor? Did you work them out in advance, or did they evolve as you wrote the story?

JB: The characters definitely evolved while I was writing the story, which was the biggest challenge! Sometimes it was hard to keep them all in line, to be honest. But it was a lot of fun to watch them grow and see how that growth changed the plot.

E.I. If you were asked to read a page from this book, is there one that you would select to share?

JB: Page 33, when Ellie meets the fascinating and intimidating Alex Campbell on a college tour and everything changes.

E.I. With two books under your belt, and a third one coming February 2010, how have you evolved as a writer?

JB: I am growing in confidence in my process. And I'm certainly getting accustomed to the stages I go through when I write a book...the initial deep infatuation with a new idea, the sprint through the first 100 pages, the slowly growing depression that it might not work, the bliss when I figure out how to tie it all together, and the crazy race to the end. I'm able to have more fun at this point, and to just let it happen. ALBATROSS, my book coming out in February, was a joy to write, even though it involved a painful topic.

E.I. As a first time YA novelist, do you feel more pressure, feel insecure or are you able to separate all that from your own creative process?

JB: At this point, I've learned how to separate it fairly well. I expect that I'll always feel a little insecure about how my books will be received, but while I'm working on them, I'm usually able to relax and enjoy the process. I hope to get better at that as my career moves forward.

E.I. Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.

JB: Fact #1 - My first job was as a waitress in a retirement home - I still think it's the hardest job I've ever had! I guess I'm glad that I started out with it so everything I've had since seems easy in comparison.

#2 - I've never been able to keep a plant alive. This is probably why I've been too nervous to ever own a pet, even though I adore animals.

#3 - Though I was a band geek in high school and college (like Ellie Snow), I've since become a big old theater nerd. I love all aspects of theater, and recently spent a few months stage-managing a production in the town where I live. I've also discovered that writing short plays is a nice creative jolt when I'm stuck on a book.

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

JB: I think the hardest and most important thing to do is simply to finish something. If you learn how to clear out distractions and keep yourself focused until the end, you're already a success!

Photo of Josie Bloss by Adam P Schweigert

To learn more about Josie Bloss, please visit her site

To purchase her books, please visit AMAZON and Barnes & Noble

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