Rummanah Aasi
  Today I have the pleasure in bringing you an author interview with Lisa Schroeder. Lisa Schroeder is a native Oregonian. She is the author of three verse novels for young adults published by Simon Pulse - I Heart You, You Haunt Me, an ALA 2009 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Far From You, a Texas TAYSHAS selection, and Chasing Brooklyn. She is also the author of It's Raining Cupcakes, a middle-grade novel published by Aladdin. When she is not writing, Lisa spends her time sharing all the wonderful things Oregon has to offer with her husband and two sons. Please help me welcome Lisa to my blog.

Rummanah: Lisa, welcome and thank you for stopping by. Can you describe your latest children book called It’s Raining Cupcakes for us?

Lisa: It’s Raining Cupcakes is about a 12-year old girl, Isabel, who dreams of traveling the world and getting out of her small Oregon town. But instead of traveling, like she dreams of, she’s stuck helping her mother get a cupcake shop off the ground.

Rummanah: The book sounds great! You’ve written books for young adults and children, which audience is it harder to write for?

Lisa: I love writing for both, and don’t know that one is harder or easier than the other. I often feel like I still have the heart of a 16-year-old, and love how the teen years are filled with all sorts of firsts, some good and some not-so-good. My strongest reading memories are from the middle school years, and I still love reading middle-grade novels. It’s what I started out writing when I went from picture books to novels and I’m so happy I finally get to be have books on the shelves for 8-12 year olds.

Rummanah: So far all of your young adult books are in the format of ‘novel in verse’. Some of us haven’t heard of that term before. Can you define that writing style for us?

Lisa: A verse novel is a novel that isn’t written in traditional chapters, but instead, is written in a sparse, poetic way. Sometimes people worry that it’s going to be like reading a book of poetry, and it’s really not like that at all. A novel in verse still has to have a good story, with characters you care about, a plot that keeps you turning the pages, etc. The verse is just a way to tell the story, and authors use it for different reasons. For me, it’s about the atmosphere the verse creates. And until you read one of my books, it’s probably not going to make sense to you. I also like verse because it helps me really get at the emotional core of the story. It sort of strips away everything else and shows you the heart of the characters, I think.

Rummanah: Do you prefer writing in prose or novel in verse? Is your writing the process the same for each genre?

Lisa: I don’t have a preference. Some stories are going to work in verse, and a lot of stories won’t. So it takes just the write kind of idea to make me want to go – oooh, I’ll write that in verse. Verse suits me because I’m not an author who is good with long passages of beautiful prose. But the great thing about writing in prose is you can let your characters talk and talk and talk, and that’s something I can’t really do in a verse novel, because realistic dialogue isn’t going to be very poetic.
   My writing process is pretty much the same for either kind of book – have a general idea of where I’m going, and sit down and just see where the characters take me.

Rummanah: Where do you find inspiration to write your stories?

Lisa: I have an idea journal where I’ll write down words I like, good titles that pop into my head, random ideas, what-if questions, etc. For me, coming up with a story idea doesn’t just magically happen. At least most of the time, it doesn’t. I have to really work at brainstorming ideas, characters, situations, etc. and see what grabs my gut and makes me say – Yes, that’s it! 

Rummanah: Readers usually see all the glorious things about being a writer, but rarely get to see the behind the story. What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Lisa: The hardest part for me is dealing with my insecurities and wishing I could be more talented. It’s not good to compare yourself to other people, but in this job, it’s hard not to. You see books getting big advances, getting great reviews, getting lots of press – whatever, and there is a part of you that goes, why not me?
   I know I’m fortunate to be published and have books on the shelves. I’m so thankful for that. Extremely thankful. And I try to remind myself how far I’ve come and that with each book, there is a chance for great things. I just have to keep writing, as that’s the only thing really in my control. 

Rummanah: You’re a true Oregonian. I’ve always wanted to go and visit Oregon. What’s your favorite thing about living there? Any places I must visit if I go there?

Lisa: I love the summers here. They are gorgeous. We have the beach an hour away and the mountains an hour away, so it’s easy to find fun things to do. We’ll maybe have one week where it gets really hot, but the rest of the time, it’s warm and sunny and not a lot of humidity and it’s just wonderful.
   It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say, in June, we get Hood strawberries here, and I wait all year long for the 3-4 weeks of those sweet, delicious berries.

Rummanah: I’m always looking for the next great read, what is your favorite book that you’ve read this year?

Lisa: I think I’d have to say Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick. It’s a book that made me laugh and made me cry and I can’t stop telling people about it! 

Rummanah: Oh, I have that on my to be read list! Looking forward to reading it. What are you working on now? Can you tell us something about it and when we can expect it to come out?

Lisa: I just sold a second “Cupcake” book, although it won’t really be another cupcake book, because it’s more of a companion book, told from Sophie’s point of view (Sophie is Isabel’s best friend from the first book). I’m excited to do another book in the town of Willow, and of course there will be some cupcakes in it, as well as jam tarts and brownies and other yummy things. I don’t have a title yet, but hopefully soon. I’m supposed to get my editorial letter for that book any day, so then I’ll be busy revising for a month or so. I just finished revisions on my next YA novel, due to come out in June, 2011, and it’s another verse novel called The Day Before.  

Rummanah: Looking forward to both books. Thank you so much for stopping by, Lisa!

Lisa: Thanks for having me!!

To learn more about Lisa and her books, visit her website and read her blog.
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