Thank you to my friends at 2K8. It’s fantastic launching The Lucky Place here!
2k8: And, now, onto the interview. Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing your book?
Zu Vincent: I was surprised that I could move from writing for adults to writing YA. There’s something incredible happening in young adult literature today. Some wonderful, edgy reads are being brought out under young adult imprints. And as Blake Nelson, author of Paranoid Park said in an NPR interview last week, the genre has exploded and “now everybody wants to come to the party.” So I’m pretty excited to be a part of this. And what’s great and perhaps still a secret is how many adults are being drawn to books on the YA shelves.
2k8: How did The Lucky Place first find a publisher?
Zu Vincent: I wrote The Lucky Place while working at Vermont College on my MFA. It began as a story of a girl with two fathers that I was writing as my creative thesis. The novel sold before I graduated thanks to Carolyn Coman, who passed it on to Front Street. I knew I was taking a chance writing in vignette form, but I was lucky because my wonderful editor, Joy Neaves, loved it and felt it was right for her list.
2k8: What inspired The Lucky Place?
Zu Vincent: This little girl whose father left her at the races when she was three. I wanted to know what happens to her. She thinks it’s her fault because she let go of her dad’s hand, and now she just wants to keep hold of everyone. Her mom and step dad and her brothers. But she can’t. So how does she survive when what she wants most is a happy family and her family keeps crumbling?
Besides, The Lucky Place is a coming of age story and I’ve always loved coming of age stories. I think that time in our lives stays with us out of all proportion to the actual years we live it. We carry so much with us from childhood, even if it was unhappy. Childhood is where we first learn to love, and are first loved, where we first learn how to be in life. Writing is about finding meaning, finding what makes us more human, that was my larger inspiration for The Lucky Place.
2k8: Where do you do most of your writing?
Zu Vincent: Right now it’s in a studio, which is upstairs and full of glass so it feels like you’re in a tree house. A big window looks into the pines where a crazed squirrel does the rumba and drum-beats his branch. Sometimes he leaps over to the last tree that hangs on the edge the canyon.
The canyon is carved from lava rock and split by distant creek, filled with forest and caves and topped by “still active” volcanoes. I think what’s out there beyond the glass is as much my studio as anything.
I like what Joyce Carol Oates says, that “in public, we become public figures. But in private, we ‘become’ the individuals we are.” And for a writer, no place is more private than a studio. No place speaks more about our private selves.
Psst. This just in: Zu Vincent has a great essay on writing revisions over on Darcy Pattison's blog.