Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Five Questions in Horn Book

The September issue of The Horn Book Magazine features "Five Questions for Christine Heppermann."

Poet Christine Heppermann is a young adult book reviewer, a backyard chicken enthusiast, and the author of several nonfiction books for children and young adults. With her first YA poetry collection, Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty (Greenwillow, 12–16 years), Heppermann reveals herself to be a thoughtfully astute observer of — and provocative commentator on — the pressures society places on adolescent girls. Drawn from familiar folktale motifs and pop-culture touchstones, each poem in this immensely satisfying collection is a delicious morsel worth savoring.

1. What is this collection’s origin story?

CH: I was in my final semester of Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children and young adults, working on a verse novel based on the Grimms’ tale “Jorinda and Joringel,” so I was in a fairy-tale mood. While wandering the stacks of my local library one day, I happened upon The Poets’ Grimm, an anthology of adult poetry (adult poetry: that can’t help sounding sleazy, can it?) inspired by the Grimm tales. Flipping through that book spurred me to write “The Woods,” the first poem in Poisoned Apples. After that, whenever I was frustrated with the verse novel, I’d switch to working on a stand-alone poem. Some of those poems were riffs on saint legends or retellings of incidents from my Catholic childhood. Some were about stuff my older daughter and her friends were going through. Some were fairy-tale/contemporary hybrids. Once enough stand-alones accumulated, I realized, hey, there are common themes here…

Read the whole interview here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog Hop: Writing Process

My friend and fellow Hamline University MFAC alum Tamera Will Wissinger invited me to participate in this “blog hop.” Basically, I answer a few questions about writing on my blog and invite two other authors to do the same. (I guess that makes it like a chain letter, minus the threat of getting creamed by a bus or having your dead high-school guidance counselor haunt your bathroom mirror if you break the chain.)

Tamera received her invite from esteemed Hamline professor Claire Rudolf Murphy, whose post is here. Here’s Tamera’s post about how she creates her fabulous picture books and poetry for young readers. Stay tuned until next week for wisdom from my two invitees, poet and YA author extraordinaire Ron Koertge and up-and-coming young middle-grade novelist—if you must know, she’s eleven—Audrey L. Hinsdale. In the meantime, on with the show!

What am I working on now?

To be completely honest, I’m working on enjoying summer. Relaxation makes me tense. When I’m lounging by the pool, I’m usually fretting about all of the other things I’m supposed to be doing, such as, oh, writing. But at the moment my deadlines are comfortably far off, so I’m attempting to be one of those people who can sleep late, hang out with my kids, read a Judith Krantz novel on the porch for half the afternoon, watch adorable goat videos on Youtube, and not feel steam-rolled by guilt at the end of the day. And, you know what, it’s going okay! (Should I be tense about that?)

How is my work different from others in my genre?

This is going to seem obvious, but it’s different because it’s written by me. I’m a big believer in voice, as in each writer should have a unique one. I like to describe my process of creating a poem as waiting for it to emerge from the mist. While I’m waiting, I throw words onto the page, knowing they aren’t necessarily the right ones, knowing the first voice I hear isn’t always my own. Maybe I’m consciously or unconsciously mimicking another poet’s style. Maybe I’m trying to force the poem to go somewhere it doesn’t want to go. I keep working and, slowly, if I’m patient and persistent, the poem shows me what it wants to say. It becomes mine. I know this explanation sounds woo-woo, like I’ve been smoking magic herb, but I swear, it’s what happens.

Why do I write what I write?

I began writing the poems in my young adult poetry collection Poisoned Apples during a very dark year in which my older daughter struggled with an eating disorder. I was scared. I was angry. I was profoundly sad, not just for my daughter, but for every girl—there are so many of us out there—who believes she can never be pretty enough or smart enough or successful enough, so she might as well disappear. Writing poetry from the perspectives of fairy tale characters gave me a way to fight back. Speaking through the guise of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the miller’s daughter from “Rumpelstiltskin,” and others, I expressed my outrage and despair. The collection also includes poems set in the “real” world of health class and shopping malls and camping trips with friends. And, believe it or not, some of the poems are funny! Because, really, when you consider how ridiculous so many of the standards our society sets for us—and we then set for ourselves—are, what else can you do but laugh?   

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Deborah Marcero to Illustrate Backyard Witch

From Publishers Weekly:

Martha Mihalick at Greenwillow has bought, in a three-book deal, North American rights to Deborah Marcero's illustrations for Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge's young middle-grade series Backyard Witch, about three best friends and a mysterious visitor who appears for curious adventures just when they need her most. The first title, Backyard Witch, is scheduled for summer 2015; Danielle Smith at Red Fox Literary represented the illustrator.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Read with inflection...

 Today Galleycat commemorates the last day of National Poetry Month by interviewing Christine Heppermann. Here's a sample:

Q: Any tips for reading poetry out loud?
A: No poetry voice! Read with inflection and emotion but not affectation. Listen to Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac; he’ll show you how it’s done.
Q: What advice can you share for aspiring poets?
A: There will come a point–probably multiple points–when you think you aren't any good and should give up. Don’t listen to yourself.

Read the whole interview here.