Today I was lucky enough to have an interview with Angela Morrison, the author of Taken By Storm, and the newly released Sing Me To Sleep (which is amazing!) Here it is, enjoy!
What inspired you to write Sing Me to Sleep?
My daughter sang with a competitive girls' choir when we lived in London, Ontario--the Junior Amabile Singers. I always wanted to write a novel set in that unique environment, but I never had a strong story to go with it. When Razorbill decided to hold off on publishing TAKEN BY STORM's sequel, I had the opportunity to go back to that idea. And something heartbreaking had happened to one of my daughter's best friends in Amabile's world-famous Young Men's Ensemble--that gave me a story that would be important to me, my daughter, that young man's family, and so, so many other people. SING ME TO SLEEP took hold of me and didn't let go.
What is your writing process like?
When I write a novel, it feels like a giant wave has hit my life. It takes all the bits and pieces of life and books, curiosities and imaginings, movies and music stored up in my brain, and breaks it into tiny shards. As the wave retreats, those pieces are strewn haphazard all over the beach. It's my job to pick up the pieces and fashion a story mosaic. I ask my self, "what if" and "what will happen next" a lot. When I find the voice of my characters, I hide away and scribble as fast as I can.
What are your perfect writing conditions?
I'm drowsy, just waking up. My brain is still in dream mode. The house is silent. I pick up my lap desk, a sheaf of blank pink pages, and a fresh black Zebra gel pen and scribble away for hours. Ahhh. Dream come true. Those days are lovely, but so rare.
What is your favorite book?
WAR AND PEACE--it is the most beautiful love story I've ever read.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I've been a writer since first grade. Haven't you? Seriously, that is when I decided I wanted to tell stories and write books. I've been in love with writing all my life.
If you could invite anyone to dinner, dead or alive, who would it be?
Derek--from Sing me to Sleep. You have to read the book to find out why.
What music would you consider to be your favorite?
I love so many types of music. Right now I'm overflowing with excitement from getting to hear the Amabile Choirs sing again. Their festival was AMAZING. And they even sang, "Beth's Song," for me. Well, me and the 1300 fans packed in the concert hall. "Beth's Song" will be available on iTunes ANY DAY NOW!! I'll let you know when it finally happens.
What about movies?
I'm a Jane Austen freak--so anything based on one of her novels.
What do you find the hardest thing about writing?
What authors have inspired you and your writing?
Louisa Mae Alcott was my childhood hero. When I worked on my MFA, I studied Katherine Paterson. The wisdom just rolls off her pen. I'm so excited to see she's the National Children's Book Ambassador--or something like that. Ron Koertge, my first advisor at Vermont College, taught me to write poetry and YA novels. Somehow I mixed the two. He's got a new poetry novel out, SHAKESPEARE MAKES THE PLAYOFFS that's getting great reviews. The man is a genius. Most recently, Markus Zusak had a huge impact on me. Another genius. And the quiet graciousness of Susan Fletcher's prose and advice still inspires me.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
I spent all last week speaking at high schools in and around London, Ontario--where SING ME TO SLEEP is set. Young people, like writers, need to know that it is okay to fail. All first drafts are horrible. Revise, revise, revise. Send it out. Get rejected. Work with trusted critiquers. Send it out again. Get rejected lots more. Go back to school. Qualify yourself. (I HIGHLY recommend Vermont College of the Fine Art's!) You only ever really fail if you give up and put it in a drawer.
I have finished Sing Me To Sleep and OHMYGOODNESSS!
I was in a girls choir VERY similar to the one portrayed in the book, I found myself laughing at the things I could relate to, but... you will find out about exactly what I think in my review - I may even tell you about my most embarrassing moment EVER which happened on stage with 500 people to see. True story, stay tuned, and thank you Angela for the amazing interview. :)
Here's the trailer for Sing Me To Sleep!
Oh and be sure to check out my contest that is running to win a signed copy of Sing Me To Sleep!