Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interview with Sarah Mlynowski

I'm excited to bring to you an interview with Sarah Mlynowski, author of The Magic in Manhattan series and a slew of other great books.

Sarah's blog:
Sarah's website:

Jill Tullo (JT): Where did you get the idea for your Magic in Manhattan series, and why did you choose Manhattan?

Sarah Mylnowski (SM): I got the idea from my little sister, Aviva. Unfortunately, not the witchcraft part. What inspired the book is the always complicated love, jealousy, and pride involved in a sister relationship. I chose Manhattan because it’s where I live. It’s a pretty magical place.

(JT): I think girls like Rachel because even though she's surrounded by magic, her thoughts, feelings, and experiences are very realistic, and girls can relate to her. When writing the books, have you drawn on any of your own experiences in school or the experiences of others?

(SM): Definitely! All my books are a little bit autobiographical. Like Rachel, my parents divorced when I was young and my dad remarried. Like Rachel, I had a best friend who “dumped” me. But even when the experiences are made up, they’re based on real emotions. Before I started writing I re-read all my old diaries to make sure I got it right.

(JT): The Magic in Manhattan books are very fun reads, and I think they're the kind of books that reach out kids who might otherwise be reluctant to read. Do you have any advice for parents who might be struggling with reluctant readers?

(SM): Thank you! My advice would be to not force kids to keep reading a book they’re not into. If they read the first ten pages and are not hooked then let them put the book down. Give them several options and hopefully one will stick. Start them off with books that coincide with what they’re interested in now—like fashion or horses, or um, witches and hopefully they’ll enjoy themselves and these books will springboard into other books.

(JT): You've also written books for adults. Why did you decide to write books for a younger audience?

(SM): I’ve always wanted to write YA. It’s when I first fell in love with reading.

(JT): What do you like best about writing for kids?

(SM): The readers! They are so sweet and they get so excited about new books. And they write me a lot of letters, which I love.

(JT): What do you like least about writing for kids?

(SM): I feel a lot more pressure about my responsibility as a novelist. Kids are a lot more impressionable than adults, and I never want to encourage bad behavior. For example, Rachel has a very healthy body image—she never worries about her weight, even though as a teen I was obsessed with the scale. I would never want to fuel a teen’s weight fixations.

(JT): What were some of your favorite books when you were a teenager?

(SM): I loved everything by Judy Blume. Her books made me realize how meaningful--and how much fun--writing about being a girl could be. I loved Christopher Pike’s thrillers--they kept me up all night. I also loved Gordon Korman—his books are hilarious and his is plotting is genius. And he’s a Canadian, just like me.

(JT): What kinds of books do you read now?

(SM): These days I’m obsessed with books by Jodi Picoult and Philippa Gregory. I’m on a women’s fiction kick.

(JT): Can we expect to see Rachel again?

(SM): At the moment Parties & Potions is the last one in the series. But maybe one day…

(JT): Are you working on any other book projects?

(SM): Yup--I’m working on a new book called Gimme a Call. It’s about a high school freshman who finds a magical cell phone and can call herself in the future as a senior.

Thanks so much Sarah!

Be sure to check out the other stops on Sarah's blog tour:

Wednesday 1/14 : Teen Book Review
Thursday 1/15: Here!
Friday 1/16: Shopping Diary
Tuesday 1/20: Page Flipper
Wednesday 1/21: E. Lockhart
Thursday 1/22: Bildungsroman
Friday 1/23: YA Books Central
Monday 1/26: Ally's Blog
Tuesday 1/27: Cynsations
1/28 - 2/6: Random Buzzers

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