Sunday, March 13, 2011
Author Interview: Gae Polisner
What was your driving factor in writing this from a male perspective, rather than female?
I think I initially set out to write male POV because I have sons, and when they were younger we’d read aloud nightly, and it was always hard to find good, character-driven, contemporary, YA fiction with a male MC. I wanted to write a book for them. Then, when the idea of The Pull of Gravity came to me, I knew I wanted a male narrator. I like boys. And I like writing for boys. They struggle to deal with their emotions in a different way; they view things more concretely, and their thoughts are often more concise (but also maybe stilted). As characters, I think, they are less fussy. I love the challenge of thinking “boy.”
How easily did you slip into Nick's mind, and when was the moment you knew you were talking in his voice and not an extension of your own?
Honestly, it really felt like Nick’s voice from the first few sentences:
“A fever was what started everything. That, and the water tower, and the cherry cola. Well also Dad and his condition, and Mom being in Philadelphia and all.”
How, when Nick attempts to pinpoint what started the chain of events recounted in The Pull of Gravity, he comes up with these very simple, tangible things, rather than all the underlying emotional things that are the true triggers for any journey, including his own. That was Nick’s way of starting. It wouldn’t have been mine. Mine would have been girly and emotional and probably put everyone to sleep. ;)
What is the most rewarding part of writing contemporary fiction for you?
This answer requires a list, Kari. But here are a few:
My son lay in bed the other night re-reading TPoG for his school assignment. Talk about rewarding.
And connecting with teens – going into schools – is phenomenal. I think with contemporary fiction there’s a unique opportunity to talk about the stuff that is real and affecting their lives right now. TPoG deals with the death of a friend, with the imperfections of family, with first love. When I read excerpts aloud to kids, I can see the recognition cross their faces. The connection with readers is a most amazing part.
I also love to write “small moments” and I feel that contemporary fiction really lends itself to that. After all, that’s what real life is. Once in a while, huge things happen to us, but mostly life is an accumulation of these lovely (or painful) acute moments, and if you write contemporary fiction well, those moments should feel interesting and intriguing and come alive off the page.
If Nick could set up the perfect first kiss, whether its inside his story confines or not, what would it be?
Oh, he wouldn’t set it up, it would unwittingly happen to him. And I think he’d be happy to go with exactly the way that it does .=)
Knowing that the Scoot is dying, what is his obituary headline likely to read?
It would definitely open with a Star Wars quote. Something Yoda.
If Nick could tell readers one thing before they started his story, what would it be?
That bravery – inner strength – is a quiet, cumulative thing. And, also, that it’s good to know how to care for a fever. ;)
Thank you, Gae, for those answers, and congrats on the debut!
And make sure you guys check out The Pull of Gravity, coming in May!
Posted by Kari Olson at 10:00 AM