Friday, March 30, 2007

Poetry Friday: Interview With Alma Fullerton: What If's Are A Writer's Best Friend

Welcome to Pop Goes The Library's interview with Alma Fullerton. Fullerton writes for teens; In the Garage was published in 2006, and Walking On Glass in 2007. Fullerton lives in Canada, blogs, has a MySpace, and agreed to an interview. Fullerton knows what it's like to sit in the interviewer chair, and has several great author interviews at her website.

Liz B: Your books, In The Garage and Walking On Glass, were "born" close together -- practically twins, with one being published late 2006 and one 2007. Which was written first? Could you share a bit of the time frame involved with both of these books, from writing to an agent to publication?

Alma: I started writing Walking on Glass in about 2002. It went through several sets of revisions before I sent it out. I queried one publisher in June 2003, but then heard my acquiring editor at HarperCollins was looking for that type of book at the end of Nov. Not yet hearing back from the other publisher, I e-queried him. He responded within seconds for me to send it.

It was sent snail mail and only 1/2 of it got there so I had to resend it. By this time it was mid - Dec. 2003 . Soon after I heard back from the other editor that she also wanted the full. By the end Jan.2004 I had both houses take it to acquisitions.

At this time I approached an agent, who I was already acquainted with. She loved the book and took me on. My editor at HarperCollins called in Feb. 2004 with an offer. We pulled it from the other publisher.

In June my acquiring editor left and I got an new one. (I really liked her too so all was well). I didn't get a contract until late Sept. 2004.

By this time I was writing In the Garage. That book went to the publisher at RedDeer in October 2005. Within three day he got back to my agent saying he wanted it. I signed a contract in March 2006. The book went through one set of revisions in May and copy edits in July and came out in Nov. 2006.

Walking on Glass didn't come out until Jan. 2007 - almost three years after the contract was signed, so my publishing time line went from extremely slow to extremely fast. Someday I'd like to be able to get a book published in the average time of around 18 months.

Liz B: Both books are about teens facing traumatic events. In The Garage is about BJ and Alex's friendship and betrayals; and Walking On Glass, a act of despair by the narrator's mother. The teenagers in both are dealing with some pretty dark things. What inspired these stories? What attracted you to them?

Alma: Both books were inspired by real life events. I had a friend who committed suicide because he knew his family would never accept the fact that he was gay. Alex is loosely based on him, although I added a few 'what ifs' and changed what happens in the end. In the Garage started out as Alex's story but BJ just wouldn't shut up so I added her in. It became both of their stories and a much richer book because of it.

Walking on Glass was also inspired by real life. My husband had a friend whose husband committed suicide and I always wondered about their son and where it left him. I added a few what ifs to that story. What if the mother didn't die. What if the family knew she never wanted to end up on life support. Things like that.

'What ifs' are a writer's best friend.

Liz B: Poetry is important in both books. In In The Garage, Alex's part is told in verse; and Walking On Glass is told entirely in poetry. Was it always your intent to use verse to tell these stories, or did that happen further on in the creative process?

Alma: I don't think it was my intention, no. Walking on Glass just came out that way. I couldn't get a voice when I tried writing it in prose, it was just flat. I went for a long walk with my dog and the first poem popped into my head and then the second and so on. That's when I knew it had to be verse.

In the Garage started out all in verse but BJ's and Alex's voices came out too similar and the book didn't have any dips of happy and sad that it needed. It wasn't until I changed BJ's voice to prose that I got those little bits of sarcastic humor and a new voice.

Liz B: What are you working on now?

Alma: Right now I'm working on a young adult novel which I won an Ontario grant for titled Canary in a Coalmine, and a couple of chapter book series aimed towards boys and girls age 7-11.

Liz B: Since this will also be posted over at Pop Goes the Library, I'm going to include my standard Pop question: What is your Pop Culture area of expertise?

Alma: My area of expertise would probably have to be music or literature. I love both, and combine them constantly using different musicians - or types of music to write different books to.

Liz B: Thank you!

Cross Posted at Pop Goes The Library (a Poetry Friday post)

Poetry Friday Round Up is at Chicken Spaghetti -- go there and leave a comment so she'll know you posted something poetry related.

Jen Robinson's Book Page reviews In the Garage
Bildungsroman (Little Willow) reviews In the Garage


Anonymous said...

What a great interview. Having read In the Garage, it's interesting (if sad) to know that it was based on an actual event. The part about how BJ just wouldn't shut up, and had to be included, is great. Thanks for linking to my review, too!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Liz. I haven't read either book but now I'm totally intrigued. Thanks!