Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What's Fresh with Elizabeth Lenhard's Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise)

For Scottie, Amanda, Bella, and Tay, life in Chicago is all about seeking shelter. They've found it in the raggedy comfort of KnitWit, in their firelit stitch 'n bitch at Joe's, in the halls of their quirky private school, even in the arms of boyfriends.

But now the girls are staring down the end of high school. Fueled by the stresses of college applications and service projects, will it also mean the end of the Chicks? Or can this unlikely foursome bind off the happy ending that only true friendship can craft?

The Chicks return, along with four hip new projects.

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for agreeing to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Elizabeth: My path to writing fiction was a bit unorthodox. I was a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and knew a fellow reporter who was moonlighting as a book packager. He had to churn out a bunch of middle-grade horror books and was hiring his colleagues to ghost-write them for him. So I gave it a try with a goofy little book called "Beware the Bog Girl." I fell in love with writing fiction for kids and decided to take a stab at a second career. Soon afterward, I got a gig writing a TV-tie-in paperback for Simon & Schuster called "Clueless: Bettypalooza." That was the first book I wrote with my name on it. Many, many writing-for-hire gigs followed until I finally wrote a book that was all my own (and my first hardcover) for Dutton in 2004: "Chicks with Sticks (It's a purl thing)." "Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise)" is my third C w/ S book.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Elizabeth: I used to write constantly, but now that I have a baby, I work three afternoons a week. On those days, I take care of my daughter from wake-up time (6:30ish) until my mother, aka "granny nanny," arrives (11:30ish). I go into the home office and shut the door. I then realize that I'm kinda TIRED from all that early a.m. momming, so I ease into things with some e-mailing, blogging, and blog-reading. I rarely get rolling before the clock strikes noon, but then I try to work until 5 or 6, with occasional breaks for cuddling with the baby and chatting with my mom. It's a longer, messier work day than it would be if I went somewhere "off-site" and just FOCUSED for several hours, but this have-my-writing-and-the-baby-too situation is working for all of us at the moment, so I keep my fingers crossed and press on!

Please tell us about your latest novel Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise) (Dutton, October 2007) and what we can expect from your characters.

Elizabeth: Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise) is the third and last book in the Chicks with Sticks trilogy. The main players are: Scottie, an angsty everygirl who's hit rock-bottom as the series begins; Amanda, a beautiful, trust fund princess and Scottie's former best friend (who will reconnect to Scottie through knitting); Bella, a kooky, beautiful yoga goddess; and the unlikeliest knitter of all, Tay, who's tattooed, surly, and tomboyish. Book #1, Chicks with Sticks (It's a purl thing) (2005) was all about establishing the four characters, their knitty passion and their unlikely but loving friendship. In Book #2, Chicks with Sticks (Knit two together) (2006), the girls all have dramas and traumas with BOYS. And finally, in KnitWise, the Chicks are getting ready to choose their colleges and say good-bye to each other, which prompts major freak-outs, especially for Scottie. In subplots, Amanda is forced by her parents to be a debutante, and hates it, but is surprised to meet a boy who hates it even more. Tay's divorced parents have a new custody arrangement, which means she actually had to DEAL with them. And Bella, who is generally her vegan yogi parents' dream daughter (given that she's a vegan yogi, too) worries that her life choices might disappoint them. Like the finale of a TV show, favorite characters from the first books resurface, and there a few tearjerker moments.

Sounds great, Elizabeth! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Elizabeth: I'm at the beginning of another YA novel. I'm very excited about it. I can't say what it's about, other than I've changed settings. (Settings are very important to me.) Chicks with Sticks was set in my former home, Chicago. This book is set in my current, very quirky, country/urban 'hood in downtown Atlanta. And there's no knitting--at least, that's the plan!

I wish you the best with your writing career, Elizabeth! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Elizabeth: My standard tip is to read, read, read! Surprisingly, not all people who want to write do this! And don't just read -- read what you'd like to write. If you mostly read books for adults (because you are one) then maybe writing for teens isn't for you. I write YA because YA is what I prefer to read. In other words, write what you love, not what you think might help you get published or might sell.

Elizabeth Lenhard grew up in Atlanta and studied English and creative writing at the University of Michigan. She’s been a features reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a contributing dining critic for Chicago magazine, and the author of more than thirty series books for teens and children. Elizabeth lives with her husband and daughter in Atlanta. Now that the Chicks are college-bound, she’s assuaging her empty nest syndrome with lots and lots of knitting. Visit her website, www.ElizabethLenhard.com

1 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

Thanks for sharing this with us! CHICKS WITH STICKS sounds great!