Author Chat with Holly Goldberg Sloan (To Night Owl From Dogfish), Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Holly Goldberg Sloan author of To Night Owl From Dogfish.
Read on for more about Holly, an interview, plus an giveaway!
Meet Holly Goldberg Sloan!
Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her childhood living in Holland; Istanbul, Turkey; Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College and spending some time as an advertising copywriter, she began writing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Counting by 7s and Short, among other novels. Meg Wolitzer was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in the town of Syosset, on Long Island, and sold her first novel, Sleepwalking, while a senior in college. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels for adults, including The Interestings, The Ten-Year Nap, The Wife, and The Female Persuasion; the young adult novel Belzhar; and the middle-grade novel The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman.
Meet To Night Owl From Dogfish!
From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.
Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.
When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters.
But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: Who were you as a middle grade reader? What were some of your favorite books?
HGS: I went to Willard Junior High School in Berkeley, California for 7th grade, which was when junior high, as we called it back then, started. My father was a visiting professor at Berkeley, and it was a life-changing year for me. Willard had an English teacher named Addie Holsing. She was magnificent. She taught journalism and that year we published a daily newspaper. Five of us were assigned as editors. We each had a day of the week and while we made room for ‘breaking stories’, there weren’t many!
When I was twelve years old I loved (in no particular order) books, art, drama, animals, tacos, cooking, my friends, movies, riding my bike, and politics. Maybe it was the times, but I followed political events very closely. I guess I still do. I was a political science major in college.
MW: I loved to read and write. My mom is a writer, and she taught me everything I know. In 8th grade, I was co-editor of the school literary magazine, Point Blank. I wrote poetry, short stories, and drew little illustrations of pencils and shoes and other random objects, which you can see all over Point Blank. I read anything and everything: novels about teens in trouble, The Secret Garden, and JD Salinger. I already knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and my mom was very supportive of this. I also loved to sing, and I acted in school plays. Two friends and I (all girls) got together after school and sang songs by a boy band at the time called The Osmond Brothers. We watched their moves and tried to imitate their choreography. I was a better writer (I hope) than I was an Osmond Brother.
YABC: Did you go to summer camp as a child? What were your favorite activities there?
HGS: I went for two weeks to summer camp right after my seventh grade year. The camp was called Far View and it was a fantastic experience in all ways. We rode horses, went swimming, took care of animals (I had the pigs), and did all the fun camp things like singing songs and making art projects. I loved it.
MW: I went to 4-H Camp when I was young, and when I was a teenager I went to a camp called Indian Hill that was really a performing arts workshop. I loved it so much, and I met a girl there, Martha, who remains my best friend to this day. It was a very important summer for me.
YABC: There are a lot of books set in New York City. What are some things you think are unique to the experience of living in NYC?
HGS: I lived in NYC right after college, which was a long time ago. Meg—this question is all yours.
MW: I grew up in a suburb of New York City and moved there after college, and live there still. My husband and I raised our kids in the city. A lot of my books for adults are set in New York. It’s a tremendously exciting place, and very fast-moving, but it also has little pockets that are calm. In terms of fast-moving, someone on the internet deliberately walked slowly, with a hidden camera on his back, and the camera captured video of people making angry faces at how slowly the guy in front of them was moving. That’s New York for you, but it’s a really diverse place, and it has a rhythm that I love. You definitely need to seek out quiet, though, and I do that. I have a Havanese dog named Jet, and I take him for long walks in the park, which is really peaceful.
YABC: Do you think that the fact you've written screenplays gives your novel writing any particularly different qualities?
HGS: Yes. I do believe that my novels are informed by the fact that I’ve spent 30 plus years writing for film and television. There is a certain drive that a film has. It’s a need to have each scene advance the story. I think on the plus side it makes my books have somewhat of a page-turner quality. But maybe I’m imagining that!
MW: No, I don't think my novels are affected by that, because I haven’t done nearly as much screenwriting as Holly. But I love watching movies, and I am very aware of the necessity of keeping the reader engaged and wanting to stay in the world of the book.
What do you think is the future of epistolographic novels in this age of texting? Were you influenced by any earlier middle grade novels in letters? (I can think of a handful!)
HGS: Meg and I often joke that the really great writing between us is in our text messaging. But for the most part they are not anything we’d want anyone to read! It’s possible we sound more like 12 year old girls in our text messages than in the prose in our novel!
MW: Ha, Holly, agreed. I did love Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, and there was a famous adult book in letters called 84 Charing Cross Road, but I don’t think we thought about any of that when we were writing. I’m not sure of the future of epistolary novels; I think the novels that work are the ones that the writers were very excited about when they were writing them. Whatever form that takes… the writer (or writers) need to make it their own.
YABC: Thirty years ago, a gay parent in a middle grade book would have been groundbreaking. Now it's fairly commonplace. Was there any particular reason you decided that the girls should both have single gay dads?
HGS: While gay parents are more common today in literature for children, we still have work to do in terms of acceptance of difference as a society and a culture. It is worth pointing out that there are schools that don’t want us to come visit precisely because our book ‘normalizes’ the situation of a child with a gay parent.
MW: It felt right to us, and we decided to explore these girls' family situations. We both have gay friends with kids, and we loved the idea of writing this story without having to strongly telegraph one big “message.” That said, there are times when just the exposure to difference is enough to expand someone’s definition of family, and we both think that’s a good thing.
To Night Owl From Dogfish
By: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: February 12th, 2019
One winner will receive a copy of To Night Owl From Dogfish (Holly Goldberg Sloan) ~ US Only
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*