Interview with P.J. Hoover

Whenever you step outside these days, heat and humidity are your constant companions. Couple our summer weather with months of drought and strange weather patterns around the world and suddenly the post-apocalyptic world of P.J. Hoover’s SOLSTICE is not that surprising. Recently I caught up with the author and we chatted about her new book, writing for different age groups and her exciting summer plans.

Tell us about your new book!

SOLSTICE is a story I absolutely adore and have from the moment I started writing it. It’s a combination dystopian mythology novel set in the future, and is kind of like a cross between MATCHED and THE LIGHTNING THIEF.

Here’s the official short blurb:

SOLSTICE, a debut young adult novel by P. J. Hoover, is an intensely romantic story set in a disturbing future of uncontrolled climate change, where, after 18 years of endless summer, the earth is dying a slow, hot death, and is about a young woman named Piper who opens a Pandora’s box of sorts which catapults her into a modern mythological world. SOLSTICE will be the first front-list title to be independently published by an Andrea Brown Literary Agency author, and is agented by Laura Rennert.

SOLSTICE is your first young adult book. Did your writing process change with this book versus your previous books that were written for a younger audience?

Totally! I mean, sure, I had to still sit my butt in the chair and write the words, and that still took time, but I found that with YA I was able to get more emotionally invested in the scenes and write for longer periods at a time. Or maybe that was just me evolving as an author. But anyway, my middle grade books are a close third person past tense whereas SOLSTICE is first person present. I love the immediacy of the present tense, and I love the ability first person gives me to be inside my character’s head.

How did you decide to publish SOLSTICE as an ebook?

I was talking to my agent, Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one day on the phone, and she brought it up as an option. SOLSTICE is really hot for the market right now since both dystopian stories and mythology are so popular, and given the support and excitement Laura felt for the whole ebook market, I decided to give it a shot.

Who are your favorite writers and why? Did any of them inspire you to become a writer for children and young adults?

I can start with Homer because without Homer, would we even have The Odyssey? And then, I’m going to mention Joseph Campbell because he identified the idea of a hero with a thousand faces and the original hero’s journey. Also, Tolkien. It wasn’t even so much the writing but the entire world Tolkien created with Lord of the Rings.

I wouldn’t say Homer or Joseph Campbell or Tolkien inspired me to write for kids, but with their thoughts, they inspired thousands of other authors whose works influenced me my whole life.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

My advice for aspiring writers is to be flexible in everything you do. The publishing world is changing with each day that passes by, and as writers, we have to change with it. Books written twenty years ago are not the same style as books written now. Networking is different. Publishing models are changing. Write an amazing book and keep in tune with what’s going on in the industry. And above all else, believe in yourself because you rock!

What are you working on now?

I have another young adult novel I’m working on (can’t disclose info on), and I also have plans to work on a sequel for SOLSTICE. After that, I have a ton more ideas. I’m just looking for more time to write them all!

What are you up to this summer?

There are some events I’m really looking forward to!

June 10-12, 2011, I’ll be on a panel with my agent, Laura Rennert, at the Writer’s League of Texas annual conference in Austin, Texas. We’ll be talking about the author/agent/editor relationship.

On July 30th, our Austin SCBWI chapter is putting on a Critique Workshop led by the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels (of which I am one). We’ll be talking about all the do’s and don’t’s of the critique world, and how even though feedback hurts, it can make all the difference in the world.

And finally, on October 8th, 2011, our Austin SCBWI is having a digital publishing symposium where I’ll be presenting on Bringing Stories to Life in the electronic age. I’ll be covering book trailers, websites, twitter, playlists, and anything else I can think of.

You can learn more about P.J. Hoover on her website and blog at www.pjhoover.com. Her books are available either online or at your favorite, independent bookstore.


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