Monday, February 13, 2012

Author Interview: Deborah Blumenthal

Today we've got a fabulous interview: Deborah Blumenthal, award winning journalist and nutritionist, who is also a novelist!  (Where does she find the time?!)  Her newest young adult novel, The Lifeguard, just came out and she's here to tell us all about it! 
But let's just stare at the cover in awe for a minute, shall we?

Wowzers.  Ahem.  Okay, yes, now on to important things: the interview!
Tell us a little about The Lifeguard.
The Lifeguard is my new young adult novel about 16-year-old Sirena Shane who is sent off to spend the summer at the Rhode Island shore with her Aunt Ellie, because her parents, at home in Texas, are going through a difficult divorce.
It’s a summer that will transform her life – forever. 
She moves into a beach house filled with ghosts, falls hard for a mysterious lifeguard with extraordinary looks and mysterious healing powers, and meets an 80-year old Brazilian artist and shaman who bequeaths her an unusual gift.
Before you wrote The Lifeguard, you wrote another young adult novel called Fat Camp. Tell us a little about that one and how you got into the young adult field.
Fat Camp is the story of an overweight teen whose svelte parents ship her off to a weight-loss camp for the summer. In the process of battling the numbers on the scale, she comes to terms with who she is and what’s import to her, as well as finding romance with a boy facing his own issues beyond what’s on the scale. 
Fat Camp was written at the suggestion of my agent, and it was based on an article I wrote for the Sunday New York Times Magazine on weight-loss camps for kids. I’m also a nutritionist, so health and weight loss are subjects close to my heart.  After writing Fat Camp, I realized how much I enjoyed getting into the teen world.  
You started out as a journalist writing on health topics. Was it a big switch going on to writing books?
I think that journalism prepared me for writing books. Hook them in the lead applies to writing books too, even though you get a bit more space in the opening pages of a book.  And whether you’re writing articles for newspapers and magazines or writing books, your object is the same,  to tell a good story in the most compelling way. 
Young adult novels these days deal with many of the same gritty issues as adult novels.  How are these issues treated differently in young adult novels?
I think you can write about almost any issue in a young adult novel, but you approach it with a bit more caution and sensitivity. You have to keep in mind that you’re writing for a younger age group with less experience in the world, so you begin from there and keep that in mind.   
Do you have a favorite young adult writer?
I really admire Sarah Zarr. And I thought the Summer series by Jenny Han was terrific.
What’s up next for you?
I’ve just finished the first draft of a new young adult novel, and I’m in the process with playing with a new idea for a picture book.
Do you have a draw full of half-finished manuscripts, or unsold manuscripts? 
Actually I have one shelf in my kitchen cabinet that holds the prints out of three novels.  I don’t think of them as dead – just unpublished, at this point. When I get around to it, I may sell them as e-books.

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