Friday, July 16, 2010

Seven Questions with Delacorte Author Kirsten Hubbard

Today we’re speaking with author Kirsten Hubbard about
her upcoming YA novel, LIKE MANDARIN.

Kirsten’s novel and my novel are Random House/Delacorte “sisters” that will be born in 2011!

LZR: Welcome, Kirsten! Can you tell us about LIKE MANDARIN in seven words?

KH: Wildwinds, badlands, beauty, badness, friendships gone wild.

LZR: I understand that you’re both a novelist and a travel writer. Did your travels influence your novel and if so, how?

KH: So much. Somewhat less in Like Mandarin, although all the stunning places I've visited have lent to a passion for setting very apparent in the book. I'm addicted to backdrops that come alive, serving as characters in their own right. My second YA novel is a boisterous backpacker adventure/romance packed with fun, travel philosophies, and menacing tropical insects.

LZR: Other than your main character, who is your favorite character in the story and why?

KH: The irresistible answer is Mandarin, but it could be argued she's the main character just as much as Grace is. So I'll go with Taffeta, Grace's little sister. At age six, she's being groomed by their overbearing mother to rock the child beauty pageant world with her miraculous voice – which she's just learning to use to speak up. She's a minor character, but a major catalyst. Also, she's adorably feisty.

LZR: Were there any scenes that were particularly enjoyable to write, and were there any scenes that were difficult to write?

KH: There's a scene I added during revisions, where Grace takes a walk in the badlands. I wrote that scene in the actual Wyoming badlands, recording the sounds and the silences, the feeling of that empty space. When I reread it, the feeling of walking out there thunders back, all the way to my bones. Also, writing the scene where Mandarin and Grace dance in the cottonwood down was pure exhilaration.

There wasn't one scene that was significantly difficult to write – apart from writerly logistics -- although I did tear up more then once when working on the final confrontations between various characters.

LZR: We’re both authors of realistic YA fiction. What drew you to this genre?

KH: It really was just a matter of Grace and Mandarin's story being the one I ached to tell.

LZR: How long have you been writing, and were you influenced by other authors?

KH: I'm one of those who wrote (and illustrated!) stories as soon as she could make the letters. I'd say every author I've read since then has influenced me in one way or another – whether inspiring me, educating me… or teaching me what not to do. That's why it's important to read widely!

LZR: What is your advice for aspiring authors?

KH: Write that next book. Don't pin all your hopes on the first book you write, because in most cases, it won't be the one that sells (however much that hurts). Plus, nothing tempers query rejection blues better than a new project you're excited about! And further down the road, once you've gained more experience, you can choose to overhaul beloved earlier projects. I did – it's called Like Mandarin :)

Thanks so much, Kirsten!!

LIKE MANDARIN will be released in March 2011.

You can learn more about Kirsten and her novel
by visiting her website: