Monday, May 03, 2010

SPOTTED: Holly Schindler + A Blue So Dark

Hi guys, today I've spotted Holly Schindler, the author of A Blue So Dark.


Favorite book?

Usually, whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. I always do my best to dig out the positives in every book…I mean, EVERY author does something fantastically well—dialogue, descriptions, plot development. I try to learn something from EVERY book I read.

Favorite author?

Yep—ditto above.

Favorite movie?

HAROLD AND MAUDE. Saw it the first time when I was 15, and I INSTANTLY fell in love with it—what quirky characters! And what a love story—talk about opposites attracting, right? Those are the characters I usually fall head-over-heels with, though—those who put their quirks right out there on the surface—those who give us a full backstage pass into their heads!

Favorite scene in A Blue So Dark?

I like sections where Aura lets the reader see little snippets of her humor…I mean, I figure, if we’re seeing her humor in such a dark, serious story, we’re REALLY seeing a full picture of who she is…
 What is your purpose in writing A Blue So Dark?

I really wanted to explore how the creative mind worked. In A BLUE SO DARK, Aura Ambrose is terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future. As the novel progresses, we find Aura struggling with her overwhelming desires to both chase her artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.

As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.

Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process…

What lessons will the readers pick up from your novel?

I hope that my novel is rich enough for readers to take one of MANY lessons from my novel…lessons about love, or family, or creativity…

Was Aura inspired by someone? If yes, who?

I don’t have any personal experience with schizophrenia. But I’ve always been fascinated by creativity—why is gushes out of some and only drips out of others. And A BLUE SO DARK allowed me to explore the idea that creativity and mental illness are somehow linked.

Aura’s mom is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia. Why did you choose schizophrenia of all the mind illnesses?

Simply because it was one of the mental illnesses that so many artists, musician, dancers, etc. have been diagnosed with. And somehow, it seemed more…dramatic than, say, bipolar disorder.

I found this at the Flux site: “A Blue So Dark is a raw, compelling and eloquent portrayal of art and madness, and the freeing, healing gift of creativity. Schindler’s voice is brilliant and true.”—Carrie Jones, author of Need and Girl, Hero. Now my question is when did you conceive the idea of creativity as a method of healing?

Not really an idea as much as a truth I’ve lived. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. As a painfully shy kid, I think sometimes that I started writing to give myself a “voice.” But I’ve always gravitated toward the creative. I took as many art classes as English in high school…and I’ve played music since I was a little girl. I think I’d explode if I didn’t have a creative outlet!

Was there a part of the novel that was hard to write?

Really, this book was a quick write. The first draft wrote in just a couple of months. Took SEVERAL rewrites to get it into saleable condition. And each time I did a massive overhaul, the OVERHAULS wrote quickly. I just really connected with this book, from the get-go.

Did you include any personal experiences in the novel? Or was there a part of the novel that was inspired from your personal experience?

Schizophrenia was really just a vehicle for exploring the creative mind.

How does your mood affect your writing?

Hmm…I guess I’m not really a moody writer—I’m not somebody who has to be “inspired” or have everything in place. I learned, during my pre-acceptance period, to write regardless of mood, or level of inspiration. I mean, if you only write with everything is perfect, you’ll never get anything done!

Is it important that you are in an ambience that you like when you write?

Naw—I write anyplace. Backseats of cars. The backyard. The park. The DMV (I’m serious).

Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a specific song in mind?

I don’t really listen too much while I write…I play music a little, so I always wind up paying FAR too much attention to music. I’m getting a little bit better about listening to music passively, but I’m still pretty distracted. Sometimes, I’m SO distracted by it, that the only way I can really describe how it feels is to say that it’s a little like trying to write a book while trying to READ a book at the same time.

Do you write continuously or do you take breaks?

Well, I sort of take unintentional breaks. I think anyone who works at home does, though—you know how it goes. The sink spews, the dog needs out. Or in. Or out again. The phone rings 150 times. The neighbor’s on the front step…

What are you working on now?

In addition to A BLUE SO DARK, I was also lucky enough to sell two more novels last year! PLAYING HURT, a YA romance, is due out from Flux in ’11. And my first novel for adults, a romantic comedy tentatively titled FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS, is due out from Blooming Tree Press in ’11 as well.

PLAYING HURT follows the flowering of an intense summer romance between two former athletes who have both endured their own game-related career-ending tragedies. Their unlikely love story has the potential to make them realize just how timidly they’ve both been living…But by playing hurt—entering into a romance with already-broken hearts—are they just setting themselves up for the kind of injury from which they could never recover?

Laugh-out-loud humor and quirky, lovable characters fill the pages of FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS, a modern-day fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land…A heartwarming Cinderella story in which a “mutt” from Queens reinvents herself as a dog show handler and finds herself hobnobbing with the pedigreed blue bloods in New York City …

What tips can you give to aspiring writers (like me)?

Keep at it. Don’t ever quit. Ever. And don’t take criticism personally, but don’t ignore it, either. Think of it the same way you would if you were, say, trying to fix your lawnmower. I mean, if you spent all afternoon working on it, and it still refused to start after you got it put back together, you wouldn’t think the lawnmower was attacking you personally, or telling you that you were stupid or completely inept, right? You’d just think you’d screwed up somewhere. Time to take it apart and stat again—no biggie.

Same with a manuscript. Nobody gets it right the first time. If an editor has taken time out of his / her day to give you advice, that’s a real compliment. Listen. Internalize it. Revise accordingly. And be grateful that someone sees potential in your work!

Every writer gets there eventually…the only way you don’t is by giving up.

What would you like to say to the people who have included your novel in their wish lists and / or to-be-read piles?

I SINCERELY hope you all fall as deeply in love with Aura as I did…

Thank you for dropping by, Holly!

A Blue So Dark is available now! Go get a copy!

Book Description:

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.


  1. I like her advice for writers. :-) I really believe that.

  2. Me too. :) Every writer gets there eventually!

  3. Great interview precious. Holly's suggestions for writers are awesome.

    Holly's thoughts on mental illness reminded me of a great read - Touched with Fire - by Kay Redfield Jamison. Interesting how so many great artists struggle with mental illness.


  4. Nice interview! I hadn't heard of this book but it looks fascinating!

  5. That was a great interview. I love Holly's advice to writers and A Blue So Dark sounds like a great read, as does Playing Hurt. Thanks!

  6. Sounds interesting. I already feel like I could connect with Aura. It's gotta be difficult to care for a parent with mental illness. Thanks for the review.
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