21 February, 2014

The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky Blog Tour - Interview with Holly Schindler

Thanks so much to author Holly Schindler for including us on her blog tour for The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky! Read on for an interview and a chance to win her new book.

Publication date: 6 February 2014 by Dial
ISBN 10/13: 0803737254 | 9780803737259

About the book:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. 

Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. 

Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.

Q&A with author Holly Schindler:

RNSL: I loved the do-it-yourself projects that the residents of Serendipity Place get up to in The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky. Do you have any creative, artsy-craftsy tendencies (as opposed to writing)? Tell us about them!

HS: I’ve always been an art fanatic—artistic subjects have made their way into a couple of my books, actually. In my first YA, A BLUE SO DARK, I explore creativity and mental illness. In THE JUNCTION, I explore folk art. (In high school, I actually took more art courses than English! It’s funny how those early interests follow you through life…)

RNSL: One of the themes in the book is activism. What inspired you to include it in the story?

HS: I feel very strongly that children from low-income families have the same ability as children from more financially comfortable households to succeed in school—in many ways, a brain is a brain is a brain. Auggie is smart and creative and brave—in many ways, her upbringing makes her see the world more clearly than the children (like Victoria) who live in newer neighborhoods. I hope children from ALL socio-economic backgrounds feel empowered when they read Auggie’s story. I want them to feel that their voice can be heard.

RNSL: You often contrast old and new in this novel. What’s your favorite old / reclaimed / upcycled item you own, and why do you treasure it versus a new one of the same?

HS: My brother’s an antiques dealer, and I often go with him on buying trips. Occasionally, we pick up objects at auctions that are…less than we’d hoped. In order to make a profit, we work together to reinvent those items; recently, we even turned a broken mandolin into wall art! I also love restringing busted jewelry. One of my favorite necklaces is made from a broken pin and old beads. (How fun is it to wear a truly one-of-a-kind item?)

RNSL: Did you have to do any research to write your book?

HS: I was initially inspired by those repurposed, one-of-a-kind items I’ve been finding at rural farm auctions since I was a little girl (I used to attend those auctions with my folks). But as I wrote, I got fascinated with folk art environments—like the Watts Towers in California, or the Orange Show in Texas. I fell in love with the idea of a work of art that the artists could live inside.

RNSL: Can you tell us more about what inspired the novel?

HS: I taught music lessons as I drafted my earliest work. In the beginning, I was writing solely adult novels. But I was shocked at how similar my students were to the kids I’d known in school. They felt so familiar to me that I had to try my hand at writing juvenile lit. It’s so funny—I thought I was teaching lessons just to pay bills. I never in a million years would have thought I’d get career direction from it!

RNSL: Do you still live in the town where you grew up? Have you yearned to wander as some of the Willow Grove folks do?

HS: Actually, I do still live in my hometown. I’ve often said I’d like to see the country—do kind of a TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, just get in the car and explore. (In my case, it’d be a TRAVELS WITH JAKE, the name of my own dog.)

RNSL: I know the book is set in a small neighborhood in Missouri, but it very much reads like it could be Anytown, USA. How do you strike that balance between specificity and familiarity that makes the reader feel at home?

HS: That’s such an interesting question. I think a big part of it is staying in one place long enough to feel you know it inside-out. Knowing one place in greater depth, having a real connection to that place, allows you to depict characters who have a connection to place, as well—and I think readers pick up on that.

RNSL: When you were Auggie’s age, what kind of interests did you have? Did you collect things or do crafting? Did you champion any causes?

HS: I was brutally shy, actually. I loved books—I was actually already writing!

RNSL: I’m a huge fan of snail mail, though I’m terrible at sending it myself. Are you a fan? Do you wish it would be more popular again, or is digital communication better?

HS: I’m completely with you—I love snail mail. I try to connect on paper as often as I can…Though it’s so much easier to get a response digitally!

RNSL: Are you working on anything new that readers can look forward to after reading The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky?

HS: I’m actually writing my next MG right now! My next YA, FERAL, will release in August of ’14…I’m planning an enormous blog tour; anyone interested can get in touch at writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com.

RNSL: Do you prefer to pack a lunch or buy it somewhere, and why? What’s your favorite lunch?

HS: What an “Auggie” question! She makes note in the book of the different lunches people eat at her old school vs. her new school. It doesn’t have to be fancy for me…I’m a bring bologna kind of gal.


"...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve." – Kirkus Reviews

"Axioms like 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' and 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' come gracefully to life in Schindler's tale about the value of hard work and the power of community…Auggie's enthusiasm and unbridled creativity are infectious, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus." – Publishers Weekly

“Determined to save her home, Auggie [uses] pottery shards, vivid glass, and metal sculptures [to] transform the house’s exterior into a vibrant expression of the love within its walls. In Auggie, Schindler creates a spunky, sympathetic character young readers will engage with and enjoy.” – The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Book Studies


Twitter: @holly_schindler
Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor
Author site: hollyschindler.com
Site for young readers: Holly Schindler’s Middles - hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com. I’m especially excited about this site. I adored getting to interact with the YA readership online—usually through Twitter or FB. But I had to create a site where I could interact with the MG readership. I’m devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves! Be sure to send your young reader’s review through the Contact Me page.
Group Author Blogs: YA Outside the Lines (yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com) for YA authors and Smack Dab in the Middle (smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com) for MG authors.


Giveaway, ends Feb 26:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading! Make sure you catch the next post on the blog tour at The Compulsive Reader (Feb 24)!

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