My Beautiful Struggle + [tour]

Tour Interview: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

I am a tour stop for the new book, Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler.

She is here today to share her thoughts about her writing and to show us her wonderful writing space.

1. Your previous book, A BLUE SO DARK, involved the very serious topic of schizophrenia. Why did you want to focus on this illness and what was the most difficult part of writing this story?
I knew I wanted to write about the possible connection between mental illness and creativity. In some ways, I think the creativity aspect of the novel is more important than the mental illness aspect. What I mean is, what I wanted to talk about—what I really wanted to explore—was the source of creativity. Where does creativity spring from? I suppose Grace actually could have been afflicted with bipolar disorder, or depression, or any of the myriad of disorders that so commonly afflict our creative geniuses…
But I chose schizophrenia because I felt that hallucinations are, in some sense, a little like the “vision” that artists have of their finished product—in both instances, it’s a figment of the imagination, something that only one person can see.
A BLUE SO DARK was actually a pretty easy book to write—I completed the first draft in just about two months! And each rewrite went just as quickly.
2. PLAYING HURT is a very unique idea. When did you get the idea for this book and did you do anything differently when writing this book compared to A BLUE SO DARK?
Initially, this book was written before A BLUE SO DARK… about a year or two before A BLUE SO DARK, actually. It was a much slower writing process overall than my debut—PLAYING HURT took longer to draft, and it changed the most from first draft to final published version.
Initially, PLAYING HURT was a story about learning the difference between loving someone (how Chelsea feels for Gabe) and being passionately in love with someone (how Chelsea feels for Clint). That element still exists in the final version, but the sports subplot—and chapters written from Clint’s POV—didn’t exist until the last revision, which took place about five years after the first draft! It was fun, though, watching PLAYING HURT unravel itself, piece by piece…
3. If you had to describe each character, Chelsea and Clint, in three words each, what would they be?
Aching to restart. I think that sums them both up, actually…
4. Can you share a little teaser or excerpt from PLAYING HURT?
This section comes from Chelsea’s POV, the first time she meets Clint:
“Okay—here’s the deal. I am not a romance-novel kind of girl. I’m not a giggler. Or a flirt. I’ve never doodled a boyfriend’s name in any of my notebooks, not even Gabe’s. I don’t twirl my hair around my finger and bat my eyelashes. Sure Gabe can turn my insides into hot caramel, but that started only after we’d been dating awhile. I’m not the sort of girl who has ever, in her entire life, gone all mush-mushy at the mere sight of anything male.
But THIS guy? Hair as shiny and black as the feathers of a raven. Skin licked by the sun. And a body sculpted by sheer strength. The width of his chest, the curve of his biceps beneath the short sleeves of his T-shirt, the smooth tapering of his hips… he smiles at me, and I recoil. Not from him, but from the way my entire body is responding to him.”
5. Can you tell us something about your next book?
My next book is a middle grade novel—my very first MG! Though the book doesn’t yet have an official title—or cover art—I can say that it will be released by Dial in the summer of ’12… In order to prepare for the book’s release, I also just started a group blog of MG authors, called Smack Dab in the Middle. You can find us here: http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com/

6. Can you show us your writing space? What tips have you learned along the way?
I do have a home office, but truly write all over the place—a window seat, under a tree… Usually accompanied by my constant companion—my peke, Jake. (I have one of those AlphaSmart Neos, which is pretty low-tech, but pretty fabulous, too! It runs on AA batteries, and I can work on it anywhere… )

The biggest writing tip I can give is that there really is no shortcut. Writing takes time. Drafting takes time. It takes time to find an agent, to hear back from an editor you’ve submitted to. The best thing you can do as you set out on your path to publication is prepare yourself for a long journey.
7. What were some of your favorite books and authors growing up?

You know, in all honesty, I think one of the books that really made an incredibly impact on me was Judy Blume’s THE PAIN AND THE GREAT ONE. It’s a picture book, and I think it was the first time I ever saw myself in someone else’s book… I have a younger brother very close to me in age, and Blume’s book really hit all that sibling rivalry on the head…
8. Do you have any other story ideas you are currently working on?
I’m ALWAYS working on new material! I think some readers assume there’s a promo period, after a book is released, during which you ONLY focus on publicity. Not true. A writer has to continue to work—often on multiple projects—even while promoting a new release. It’s enough to make your head spin—but it’s also really thrilling.
9. If you could pair any of your characters with one from another YA novel, who would it be and why?
I instantly thought of Aura from A BLUE SO DARK and Holden Caulfield from CATCHER IN THE RYE. I just think they both have a kind of uncensored narration style… it’d be cool to get them both together to see if that uncensored take on life would translate to conversation.
10. What message do you hope people take from your book PLAYING HURT?
That there’s always a second act in life—no matter what horrible things might happen, no matter how disappointed you might be, no matter what kind of curve ball you get thrown… There’s always a, “and then… ” Another start. Another happiness.

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
Publisher: Flux (March 8th, 2011)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 312 pages
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Star basketball player Chelsea"Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and"boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?

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