When I interviewed author Christina Hamlett recently (read interview), she then turned the tables and interviewed me about mother-daughter book clubs for American Chronicle. How interesting it was to be on the other side of the pen. Here’s a link for you to read Christina’s interview. Check it out!
Gennifer Choldenko, whose latest book If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period was released last month, spoke with me recently during a phone interview. I posted the full interview on MotherDaughterBookClub.com today. Here are a few excerpts:
Tell me about If a Tree Falls During Lunch Period.
GC: I had a lot of fun working on this book. My voice is naturally contemporary. It’s more of a challenge to get it to work in a historical setting.
There are a lot of issues in this book. You’re writing about classism and racism along with typical middle school issues of being popular and going through puberty. How did you decide to write about these things?
GC: I think a lot of things came into play in this book. Classism bugs me, and yet I see it all around. Also, when I was kid I was bused from a predominantly white school to a predominantly African American junior high. All of a sudden I felt like I was the color of my skin wherever I went, and I felt like somehow I had to be representative of that. Or else people judged me based on skin color before they knew me. I had never experienced anything like that. I had never thought about the color of my skin. So it made a huge impression and I think that sort of seeped into this book also.
I struggled with getting the voices of Kirsten and Walk right. It was scary to create a character of a different race, because I felt like I was going to open myself up to criticism. But I also felt like not doing it was wrong. So I had to do the right thing for the book even if I didn’t feel like other people would necessarily agree with me on that.
I understand you’re in a Mother Daughter Book Club with your daughter?
Yes. I’ve really enjoyed it and I hope we continue on for many years. I think it will be fun as the kids grow and change and become more sophisticated and probably interact with books in a different way. My daughter is a voracious reader, but she doesn’t speak up much in the book group. She always looks forward to our meetings, and if for some reason I have to miss one she’s really unhappy about it. That’s the best indication that it means something to her.
For more information on Gennifer, check out her Web site, www.choldenko.com.