Sunday, August 12, 2012

Interview: Abby Slovin - Letters In Cardboard Boxes

Hello all.
Welcome to my very first Author Interview!
And I am so happy to announce the wonderful
Abby Slovin as my first experiment.
Oops, I meant participant. J
In this interview we chat about
Slovin’s debut novel, 
Letters In Cardboard Boxes.
We also discuss writers block
and Abby’s NEW PROJECTS!
Enter Giveaway HERE!!


Winner of the First Horizon Award for superior work by a debut writer, Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her.

Letters carries us through the universally-shared experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves through some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor.




Abby Slovin was born in the summer of 1983 and lived in the same house on Long Island until attending the University of Michigan. She has a deep love for New York City, Brooklyn especially, where much of her family has its roots. She loves to spend time outdoors, travel, research family genealogy, and relax at home in Jersey City with her husband, Dominick and dog, Grumpy.


Ok, I am going to give this first question a shot. If you have been asked this before or just want to pass to next question, just let me know. Thanks so much again!


INTERVIEW

Q: Is "Letters in Cardboard Boxes" inspired by any of your own life experiences? If so, please explain.
          
A:  Letters In Cardboard Boxes is a completely fictional story, but was partially inspired by a personal moment in my own life. While I was cleaning out some of my grandmother’s possessions after she had passed away, I found letters she had exchanged with my grandfather during their courtship and was hit with a lot of emotion. In particular, guilt at not having known this part of her life, sadness for not being able to talk to her about it, but also a lot of happiness that these letters breathed life into someone I loved who was no longer around, and happiness that she had such joy in her life. I started imagining a story with this idea at its center — of finding remnants of a person’s life after they’ve passed — and organized a fictional story around it. I named the main characters after my grandparents simply because it felt good to hear their names spoken out loud again.
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        Q: I'd like to know more about Tanya. She turned into such a support system for Parker and she is just a teenager. Did you know when you put her into the book that she would be so essential to Parker, or did the relationship grow as the writing progressed for you?

         A: I'm pleased to hear that Tanya resonated with you. She's one of my favorite characters in the story, and definitely one of the most fun to write. As the basic structure for the story was developing, I knew I wanted Tanya to have an essential role in Parker's coping process, but as my writing progressed, this relationship also grew beyond what I had anticipated. I wanted to have Tanya portrayed as a person with solid character, a rock almost, like Dotty. And I wanted her to appear as an old soul despite her age (and I wanted that juxtaposition of her age versus her maturity to be clear). But, characters also have a way of taking on a life of their own as you write them. And I think the substance of Tanya, the real depth of her character and her importance to Parker, was something that I did not fully anticipate until the novel had wrapped up and I reread what I had written. Sometimes you can't anticipate what your characters will teach you until you read them in action with the story fully intact.
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Q: I know this is a common question, but do you ever get "writer's block"? If so, how do you overcome?

A: Of course. Writers block has always been a part of my process. The truth is, there are times when I just can't write. The inspiration just isn't there and everything I try to write sounds forced or overdone. When this happens, I step away. Give myself a little break from whatever pressures I'm feeling at the moment. I usually find that when I give myself some space, the block comes and goes. Sometimes it takes a few weeks or sometimes only a few hours, but I've found its important to let writers block take its course and try not to force the writing process. During that time, I like to listen to music or read a little more because typically the presence of either of these things will inspire me back into writing. No matter what, I think the most important thing is to not force the writing when writers block hits. Let it be, and have a little patience and the inspiration will come back.
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Q: What are you working on now or have planned for the future?

A. Right now, I'm moving forward with two new projects. The first, being released monthly on the Dunce Academy blog, is a humorous story about a recent college graduate searching for work (http://www.abbyslovin.com/jack-and-the-brick-wall/about-jack/ ). The other will be my next novel, called 10:15 on a Tuesday, tells the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between an upper-middle class widower and a psychic (http://www.abbyslovin.com/other-work/what-should-i-write-next/1015-on-a-tuesday/ ).
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            Q: What was the last book you read and how would you review/rate it?

A: The last book I read was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I thought it was well-paced and interesting. Very plot-driven, in a good way. I love a good thriller every now and then. Something that keeps me turning the page. Overall, I thought it was a very good book.
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Thanks so much Abby for allowing me to interview you. You made my first interview fairly painless. :) 
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