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.


Gift Ideas from Texan Authors and Illustrators

It’s December and the holiday season is upon us whether we like it or not. Here’s an easy way to knock some of those items off your “To-Do” list. Celebrate the wealth of artistic talent in Texas by buying books created by Texan authors and illustrators. You’ll find something perfect for both the kids and grown-ups on your list. Here is a small sampling of books that are available in your local bookstores or favorite online bookseller.


Books for Children 4-8 years

Merry Christmas, Merry Crow by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jon Goodell
Celebrate the holidays with an industrious crow as it flies through a small town gathering bits and pieces to decorate its own outdoor Christmas tree.


Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Every younger brother or sister will enjoy this original tale of a nasty older brother who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus and is proven wrong in the end. Sibling revenge fantasies aside, parents will also be relieved to discover a few “scientific” facts to support the existence of Santa Claus.


Three Bears’ Christmas by Kathy Duval, illustrated by Paul Meisel
In this twist on the Goldilocks tale, Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear go on a walk at Christmastime through the snowy woods in order to pass the time until their gingerbread has cooled off enough to eat. When the Bear family returns, they are surprised to find the gingerbread eaten, chairs broken and bed covers rumbled. Kids will love discovering the clues the Bears’ mysterious guest leaves behind.

 Gingerbread Man Superhero! by Dotti Enderle, illustrated by Joe Kulka
Another traditional tale with a holiday twist! As the oven door opens, Gingerbread Man leaps out, shouting "Flour Power"! Then the cookie crusader takes off to save the world and sweet adventures commence!

Moose and Magpie by Bettina Restrepo, illustrated by Sherry Rodgers

It isn’t easy growing-up – even for a moose. Luckily Moose has his good friend Magpie to help. Kids will love the jokes while learning interesting animal facts.

Books for Tweens and Teens

Front Page Face-Off by Jo Whittemore
Twelve-year-old Delilah James is a top reporter at Brighton Junior Academy. Her biggest ambition is to become a Junior Global Journalist. But when a new girl moves in, steals her crush and takes over in the newsroom, Delilah must turn to an unlikely ally for help.


Trudy by Jessica Lee Anderson
Trudy hates math, doesn’t understand her best friend anymore and then suddenly her dad starts acting strange. In this heart-wrenching drama, Trudy discovers her own strength by working through the seemingly insurmountable troubles in her life.

The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover
In this first book of the trilogy, Benjamin and his best friend Andy adore their unique psychic gifts. But when Benjamin’s mirror starts talking, they realize their abilities are more than just tricks and games.

My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson
When scholarship student Rhonda is forced to tutor beautiful and popular Sarah in trigonometry, she discovers Sarah has a secret that for Rhonda is all too familiar


Shadow by Jenny Moss
If you are tired of vampires, don’t miss this fairy tale/ fantasy /romance that will leave you wanting more!

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Anne’s life is turned upside down when she discovers her dreams of Baba Yaga and the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov are true.

Books for All Ages


A Christmas Carol Pop Up, illustrated by Chuck Fischer, paper engineering by Bruce Foster
Charles Dickens’s timeless fable, A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book features artist Chuck Fischer’s richly painted depictions of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, brought to life in intricate pop-up scenes by paper engineer Bruce Foster.

 Our Shadow Garden by Cherie Foster Colburn
A heart warming story illustrated by children who are battling cancer. When ordered through www.childrensart.org, 100% of the profit goes to M. D. Anderson Hospital.

Voices of the Alamo by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Ronald Himler
Through prose and paintings, this book captures the many cultures–Spanish, Tejano, Texan, Mexican, and American–of the people who lived on the land that became Texas.

Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead, illustrated by Shane Evans
The story of Clementine Hunter, who overcame prejudice, poverty, and hard times to create art that is celebrated around the world.


 Happy Holiday’s everyone! Wishing you and your family the most peaceful of new years!