Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 2: An interview with Jennifer Bradbury

We're back today with Jennifer Bradbury for a nice, cozy interview. So, pull up a chair, grab your fave drink and let's get to know this well traveled author.

2k8: So tell us, Jen. Where do you do most of your writing?

JB: I do most of my writing in this chair. Since I write while my daughter is sleeping, I work in the opposite corner of the house from her bedroom, which happens to be our office/playroom (we call it the "rumpus" because the elderly woman we bought the house from called it that. Kept the name in her honor, but got rid of the geometric self-stick pea green linoleum.) The chair is sort of halfway between the office and play parts of the room, which is kind of appropriate for a calling that when its going right is equal parts work and play. Plus, I can kick back with the laptop.

2k8: We bet a lot of moms can relate. Can you tell us how SHIFT came about? How did you begin writing it?

JB: We were living in India while I was on a Fulbright teaching exchange. I'd been given a light teaching schedule, and had been thinking for years about how to write a YA featuring a bike trip. So in an effort to keep myself busy, I'd go downstairs for a couple of hours every afternoon to the library and write a chapter. My husband (who was not working while we were there) was usually at home waiting to read the chapter when I arrived. All this was happening while my friend who was getting our mail for us here at home was opening rejections from agents on a manuscript I'd been working on before we left. But my husband's enthusiasm and my own need to keep busy kept me going, and by the time we got home in January, I'd made it through a couple of passes on the story.

2k8: Your husband rocks! And how did SHIFT find a publisher? What's the real scoop?

JB: I'd queried my agent on that story that I mentioned above, and she'd liked it enough to ask for some revision, but ultimately passed. Then when I came home and decided to start sending out this new one, I thought of her again. I queried her, and her office requested a full. I took some time getting it to her (my daughter was born and I sort of forgot all about wanting to be an author for a while!), but they actually emailed again a few months later to ask why they hadn't seen it yet. So I sent it off, and she called within a few weeks with an offer of representation. I remember feeling like if this was as far as I got, I could be happy—just having someone who didn't love me but liked the story and had some faith in it. But it did go further. And quickly! The following Monday, my agent called to tell me she had an offer from Atheneum, and here we are!

2k8: They emailed you? Wow! Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing your book?

JB: I was definitely shy about writing from a male point of view. But I ended up having a blast. My favorite bit of confirmation on this came from my brother-in-law, who is one of my early readers. He read a draft of the story while we were still over in India, and emailed me to tell me what he liked and said that he'd always known I'd make a really great guy. Which is really nice—maybe a little weird—but mostly nice.

2k8: That's a high compliment! Okay, now imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how crazy wild or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story would you want to write and why?

JB: Um . . . whatever I'm working on at the moment? I do have a draft of something that I love but I think might be destined to languish in a drawer for a while. It’s a historical spy YA novel, dealing with debutantes and mummy unwrappings in 1815 London. But I love such a range of stories and subjects, that its fun to mash up my enduring adoration of Jane Austen with a past addiction to Alias. But I've always known fun for me isn't necessarily universal. I wrote it between SHIFT and APART, my next book for Atheneum. APART follows three sisters divided by a father's mental illness, the pressure ofliving with a secret everyone already knows, and what it means to makethe most of the family you find yourself in.

2k8: Please, please, please do NOT let the debutantes and mummies languish and APART sounds incredible. Can't wait for it. Last, but not least, what question won't most people know to ask you? And what's your answer?

JB: What's the first book you read all by yourself?

Answer: DANNY AND THE DINOSAUR by Syd Hoff. Love that book!

You've come a long way, baby!

Tune in tomorrow when we'll learn about a special librarian who had a lasting influence on Jennifer.


PJ Hoover said...

Really great interview! And I love the chair. Do you fall asleep in it too?

Barrie said...

We have Danny and the Dinosaur in our house too! Great interview!

Marissa Doyle said...

Ah, comfy chairs. Second in writerly importance only to the computer.

Your teaching experience in India must have been amazing. Do you think you'll ever write about it or work it into a book?

Unknown said...

as a devoted Jan Austen fan and an addict of spy movies and shows in general, i love your new book idea and i can't wait to read it!

Jimmy, Jennifer, Evelyn June and Arun Bradbury said...

I might have nodded off once or twice in the red chair . . .