Friday, June 24, 2011

The Purple Daze Giveaway!

We’re happy to welcome author Sherry Shahan to YA Fresh today. Sherry is the author of 30 children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction. Research has put her inside a dog sled for the first part of the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, paddling a kayak in a remote fjord, and on an exposed ridge in the Sierra Nevada during a deadly electrical storm.

Purple Daze is her first YA novel. Set in Los Angeles in 1965, it's a story about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, and friendship.

Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Sherry: When my two daughters were young I began writing as a hobby. It was something to do to keep my brain from turning into applesauce. I thought it would be fun to submit short articles to local newspapers. I later graduated to more substantial articles for national magazines. Much later, I tried writing for children. By then my daughters were reading Judy Blume. I thought, These books are such fun! Why not?

Great! Please tell us about your novel, PURPLE DAZE, and what we can expect from your characters.

Sherry: While cleaning out my office one day, I found an old shoe box filled with letters. Most of them were written by a friend who was in Vietnam during the late 1960s. I’d kept his letters nearly 50 years. I spent hours rereading his gut-wrenching account of that living hell. I wrote character sketches about other high school friends. Once I began scribbling, memories triggered emotions that enveloped me twenty-four-seven.

Ultimately though, PURPLE DAZE is about six high school students, who share their intense personal experiences through journal entries, notes, letters, interconnected free verse and traditional poetry. These kids took part in America’s most volatile cultural revolution. I believe the story is as relevant today as it was almost 50 years ago.

What's up next? Do you have another project in the works?

Sherry: An Alaskan-based adventure novel called “Ice Island.” Several years ago I was in Nome for the end of the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Afterward, I flew to a remote island in the Bering Sea. I was astounded to see native men repairing walrus-skin boats and polar bear hides drying on racks. I remember thinking, Someday I’ll use this setting in a story.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

When I’m stuck I take a paragraph from a novel and rewrite it in verse. I concentrate on metaphor, assonance, imagery and cadence. Shouldn’t all good writing contain these elements? Sure, but I find it easier to focus on “voice sounds” and “patterns of expression” when my writing looks poetry. Then, I go back to my manuscript and do the same with one of my paragraphs. By then, I’m ready to plow ahead.

Sage advice, and thank you so much for visiting with us!

Sherry is kindly donating a copy of PURPLE DAZE to one of our readers. To be entered, either tell us why you want to read this book, or name something in the color of purple! And check back on Monday to learn the winner’s name!

11 fresh comments:

Janie Emaus said...

I've been hearing a lot about this book and am very anxious to read it. Great interview.

Amy Sedivy said...

Sigh. I was a teenager in the 60's, in LA. I just put this book on my amazon wish list for summer reading. Thanks for introducing us to it!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Thanks, Sherry, for sharing with us on YAF! Good luck, Everyone!!

Anonymous said...

Purple grapes!!


Llehn said...

Purple nail polish!!

Ida Laurelwood said...

Purple People Eater!

Ms. M. said...

Can't wait to read this book. Love to find new books to suggest for middle school readers. In keeping with the 60's, Purple Haze!

Desilula said...

Purple is my favorite color. I would like to win because I love to read books about history and strong female characters, this sounds like it will be awesome!

When I think of something purple I think of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes and the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze also blueberry smoothies are more purple then blue;)

desistephens at gmail dot com

nymfaux said...

This book looks *AMAZING*!!!

Purple is my absolute favorite color--and the best of all candy flavors!!!--suckers, Jolly Ranchers, jelly beans, Koolaid, popsicles--You can never go wrong with purple!!! :D

Janet Crozier said...

I love the fact that the author wrote the book using the old letters as an inspirational springboard. I think that must bring a lot of truth to the story telling. I would love to read The Purple Daze! As far as the subject of purple, my mind sprung to the chorus of "purple people eater." What a silly song!

sunnynikki said...

Purple Rain! Wish it was real... rain would be so much more entertaining.