Friday, May 22, 2009

Author Interview: Anne Osterlund

So today, I'm happy to announce an interview with Anne Osterlund, the magnificent author of Aurelia and the recently released Academy 7. So without further ado, here's the interview, with my questions in bold, and Anne's answers below.

According to your author bio you live in Oregon, which makes you a West Coast gal like me! What’s your favorite thing about where you live?

The sky. I need space and sunshine! And sunsets in Eastern Oregon are unearthly beautiful.

So I know you spend part of your time as a 6th grade teacher. What made you want to try out writing? Or are you a writer who picked up teaching?

I am both. As long as I can remember, I would close my eyes before going to sleep and imagine stories. Some of them drift away with time but some never go away. And these, I believe, are the ones that need to be written.

Teaching is another passion. It is very child-centered (teachers survive because of all the wonderful, small, life-altering moments that happen with their students throughout the year). But I am finding that teaching is also a vital part of being an author. Writing is about connecting with people, through words, workshops, school visits, and presentations: all things I have learned as a teacher.

Is it hard to juggle both jobs?

Is it difficult to wade through 5 ½ inches of snow, surrounded by sixth graders, and write prose in your head?

Eww snow. I spent four years of college wading through feet of the stuff! Do you have a character that is your favorite to write about?

That is a loaded question. I love Aurelia. She is very noisy, and opinionated, and has a temper; but she is also a tremendous amount of fun and has a great deal of strength. Dane is a blast—always making a mess of my scenes when I think I know where they are going. But I really love writing about all my main point of view characters. If I had to write in Aurelia’s and Dane’s heads all the time, it would be exhausting. Robert and Aerin can be much more calming. And there is a young man named Salva right now who is spectacular—and everyone knows it, which drives him crazy. Characters are alive! They have their own will, and I just try to listen.

Was one of your books more fun/easier to write than the other?

I love them both equally. The process of revising Academy 7 was probably easier because I learned a lot of things while I was revising Aurelia that helped me with Academy 7.

I think there is more lightness to Aurelia. I love to listen to her banter. The danger in her book is life-threatening, but it is also a thrill-ride. Academy 7 is darker and some of its hazards are more applicable to real life. It can be tough to live through that level of intensity day in and day out when you are writing. But then Dane is always around to blow things up!

I enjoy cooking, so I’m nosy about other people’s recipes. What’s your favorite food?

Watermelon, lefsa, grandma’s meatloaf, chocolate chip mint ice cream . . .
Lefsa is a full-day process and should, IMO, only be attempted with many hands, Christmas music, a real lefsa pan, and a desire to be covered in flour.

Sounds messy! Do you enjoy reading reader reviews about your books, or do you avoid them?

I read them. I enjoy the positive ones. I feel sick when I read the negative ones and sometimes flip websites before finishing them. I love the reviews that tap into my own feelings about the books. And themes. And characters. The top two on the review page from my website are my two favorites for Aurelia.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The moments when the characters come into your head and live through something you’ve never seen before. And you know it’s right.

And since every job has its ups and downs, what’s your least favorite thing about being a writer?

Losing the chance to share the sequels to my stories.

That is a bummer! I hate it when I can't find out how a story ends. Your new book Academy 7 came out on May 14th. Is there anything you want your readers to know about this new book?

Hmm. Have I mentioned that I really love Dane and that he likes to blow up scenes? Academy 7 is the story of a girl who is fleeing a dangerous planet and trying scrub away the person she has been for the past six years in order find a better life. Think Star Wars meets The Outsiders.

Anything new you’re working on that you’re allowed to tell us about?

I’m writing Exile, which is the second book in the trilogy about Aurelia; but Penguin rejected the proposal for it. They said they would like another book (good because I have lots of ideas I love), but they have not received enough feedback to publish a sequel (heartbreaking, especially since I feel like it’s letting all the people down who loved the first story and deserve to know how it really ends). Aurelia, of course, is not about to let me quit on her, though, so I am just going to have to keep writing in faith. I’ve also written two synopsis which Penguin is considering at the moment. One is called Justice of Thieves and the other is Salvation. We shall have to see what fate holds in store.

This question gets the most unusal answers. So, what is your favorite word?

Cats.

I like that word too! As a fellow cat-servant, I noticed your bio was “written” by your cats. Can you tell us more about them?

Very sadly, Tease passed away last spring. I decided to leave the biography up in honor of her and because she and Dance went through all the trouble of writing it. Tease was my very loving, snuggly kitty with a fondness for looooong naps, sitting on top of whatever I was trying to read, type, or print; and talking to birds. Dance is my very strong-willed, tough cat with an appreciation for knocking over plastic garbage cans. She does an excellent job defending me from the very hazardous threats of moths, birds, spiders, and all the tom cats within her radius. She would prefer to defend me from the ultimate danger: orphan kittens, but has failed with regard to one particular gray kitty named Billy who now resides at my parents’ house and pesters her whenever we visit.

Thanks for the interview Anne. Best of luck with the new book!

Thank you for letting me visit your site, Alyssa! It was a pleasure!

Catch up with Anne for more great info at her website. If you've enjoyed this interview, you're going to love Anne's books. You can pick up your copy from your local bookstore, or order them online from Amazon.com:

6 comments:

NotNessie said...

Great interview! I've had these books on my to-read list for a while, but I'll have to bump them up the list now.

And Alyssa, I love your questions! Great interview!

Liyana said...

Great interview. It's sad reading about how authors get discouraged after a bad review. Don't worry so much about that! There are other people who love to read your stories the way you're telling them, so keep on doing what you've been doing!

Melanie said...

Mmmm... I love watermelons! I think I'm definitely going to have to read Academy 7. It sounds really cool!

Liyana said...

Congrats! You have something here.

Kate said...

Great interview! I really want to read Academy 7, it sounds wicked!

celi.a said...

LOVED the interview. The food/recipe question was my favorite.
Osterlund deserves to take off in a big way, as her books are exciting and her characters are unforgettable.
Thanks for sharing this with us!