Contributed by Joanne Mumley
One of our extraordinary staff members, Joanne, interviewed Angela Blount, author of Once Upon a Radtrip! Now she's sharing this fantastic chat with us! But first we'd like to introduce you to this literary duo.
Meet Angela Blount.
Award-winning author Angela N. Blount is a Minnesota native, transplanted to the deep South–where she currently resides with her understanding husband, their two children, and a set of identity-confused cats. She is a staff book reviewer for Young Adult Books Central, an underwriter for LitPick, a memoirist, sporadic poet, and webcomic artist.
In her spare time, Angela enjoys painting, reading, coffee shop loitering, questionable attempts at horticulture, and all things geeky.
Now meet Angela book, Once Upon a Roadtrip.
Eighteen-year-old Angeli doesn't "fit in." She's never been on a single date, and she lives vicariously through an online world of storytelling. With the pressures of choosing a practical future path bearing down, she needs a drastic change. Too old to run away from home, she opts instead to embark on a solo 2-month road trip. But her freedom is tempered by loneliness - and anxiety tests her resolve as she comes face-to-face with her quirky internet friends.
Aside from contracting mono and repeatedly getting herself lost, Angeli's adventure is mired by more unforeseen glitches - like being detained by Canadian authorities, and a near-death experience at the hands of an overzealous amateur wrestler. Her odyssey is complicated further when she unwittingly earns the affections of two young men. One a privileged martial artist; the other a talented techie with a colorful past.
Bewildered by the emotions they stir, Angeli spurns the idea of a doomed long-distance relationship. But she is unprepared for the determination of her hopeful suitors. In the wake of her refusal, one man will betray her, and the other will prove himself worthy of a place in her future.
Angeli sets off in search of a better understanding of herself, the world, and her place in it. What she finds is an impractical love, with the potential to restore her faith in happy endings.
A true story with an unapologetically honest outlook on life, love, faith, and adventure - Once Upon A Road Trip is a coming-of-age memoir.
With introductions in order, it's time to CHAT!
Joanne Mumley: Memoirs are very personal, what was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Angela Blount: For me, the most challenging aspect in writing my story was reliving the emotions. There’s something deeply taxing about reaching back inside yourself and pulling everything out to put on display. It was part of the reason I didn’t start compiling Once Upon a Road Trip until the whole adventure was seven years behind me. I needed the distance. I needed to be ready to let go and write about the good, the bad, and the potentially embarrassing with equal candor.
The most challenging part about choosing to actually publish the book was overcoming the idea of releasing something so personal to public scrutiny. I understood well ahead of time that I would be opening myself up to judgment from complete strangers. (It’s one thing when readers decide they can’t stand one of your fictional characters, and quite another thing when they dislike YOU as a person.) But after weighing the probable consequences, I felt compelled to go ahead with it. My hope was that for every person who might not understand my peculiarities or where I was coming from, there would be another person who connected well enough to be affected by the story I had to share.
JM: What is the best advice you would give to young adults thinking about going on a cross-country trip?
AB: Be prepared. Fortunately, a lot has changed since I hopped in my car fresh out of high school and drove around for eight weeks. Cell phones and GPS are much more affordable and (generally) have decent coverage. But that doesn’t mean a tangible road map isn’t a good thing to have along for backup.
Research the area you’re visiting long before you get there. (I still regret a number of sights and landmarks I completely missed because I didn’t know any better at the time.)
And last but not least… know how to defend yourself.
JM: What made you choose to tell your story both in the 3rd person and with journal entries?
AB: The 1st person journal entries were the backbone of the story—the thing that jogged parts of my memory and reacquainted me with my 18-year-old self. They added a depth of insight into my mental and emotional state at the time, but I quickly realized it didn’t feel quite right to tell the entire story from that close up. Once Upon a Road Trip was as much about the journey and the adventure as it was about me.
3rd person limited held a lot of appeal in that it allowed me to be more objective—like standing on the outside of myself and looking in.
JM: Looking back on your time and travels across the country is there anything you would go back and change?
AB: I think I would talk to more strangers. (Within reason and in public, of course!) I was so focused on the trip, the sights, and my individual host families along the way, there were a lot of opportunities I didn’t think to take at the time. I’m still an introvert by nature, but in the years since then I’ve gotten better at going outside of my social comfort zone and seeking out other people’s stories.
JM: What is one thing you want your readers to take away from your memoir?
AB: I consider it an honor whenever readers can take away anything positive from one of my books.
But if I could choose, I’d want them to be inspired to face challenges and do things you need to do in spite of fear. I started out thinking I wanted people to stop being afraid—of failing, of disappointing someone, of taking the road less traveled. Yet, I know from my own experiences that an absence of fear isn’t always feasible. What is feasible is doing something even though you’re afraid of it.
JM: What authors influenced you growing up? or Even now?
AB: Growing up, C.S. Lewis taught me to love reading—not just the love of a good story, but of the words themselves. S.E. Hinton gave me the audacious idea that a 15-year-old girl could write a book worth reading and actually have it published.
These days authors influence me a little more directly. Moriah Densley has had a tremendous impact on the conveyance of emotion in my writing. Patrick Rothfuss has also been influential to me, not only in his epic storytelling capacity but in his big-hearted generosity as an author determined to use his influence to leave the world better off than he found it.
JM: You met a lot of interesting people on your cross country trip. What advice would you give to young adults who feel that they might not "fit in"?
AB: Embrace the weird. The sooner you do that, the less you’ll fritter away time and energy worrying about how other people perceive you. Eventually you’ll discover effective ways of using it to your advantage.
JM: Do you have any current book projects? Can you tell us more about them?
AB: I actually have two projects going at the moment. One is the second book in a loosely connected Contemporary YA series, set in a small town in Tennessee. The other is a YA sci-fi series set on a speculative future Mars. The differences between them are somewhat extreme, but I find it refreshing to shift back and forth.
Once Upon a Road Trip
By: Angela Blount
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Two winners will receive a signed copy of Once Upon a Roadtrip, open internationally.
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. During this giveaway, Marilyn has a question for readers. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What is the name of the book that serves as a continuation to Once Upon a Road Trip?
*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*
Joanne Mumley is a middle school Language Arts teacher, who loves tweeting about the things she loves; books, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Marvel movies, and Pop Culture, and how to make reading a passion, not something tedious you do in school. Outside of work, she loves performing music, video games, and archery. Joanne especially loved having the opportunity to go to San Diego Comic Con this year and finding out more about favorite authors and sharing all the cool information with her students!