Interview with Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Many a moon ago, when her REACHING FOR SUN was just reaching the market, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer was set to stop by my blog for an interview to celebrate the book’s release. Poor thing, she’s been patiently waiting right here in my blog waiting room for AGES. She must have read a million fluffy mags, all while I’ve been in the back having a snack and slurping Diet Coke. But bless her heart, she hung around long enough for me to finally get to the interview, and just in time to celebrate something new:

REACHING FOR SUN, published this year by Bloomsbury, has been named to the 2007 Booksense Summer Picks List!

Here’s most of the interview…For the rest, including the super-secret revelation of Tracie’s favorites list, from authors to cartoon characters, check out in the Interviews section.

* Reaching for Sun is one of my favorite reads this year. I love that you’ve given us an honest portrayal of a girl with disabilities in a book that does NOT revolve around her disabilities. By the end, although Josie’s own voice and confidence is stronger, there is still heartache in her life. And yet, the book ends with great hope. Did you deliberately inject the story with this hope or is your process more organic?

I wanted it to be honest and all kids walk around with some kind of heartache, this I believe. Hope is necessary in children’s books. I don’t always find it in the first drafts though.

*Tell us about some of the response to Reaching for Sun. Which responses have been the most special?

The most amazing thing has been hearing from families of children with disabilities. It was something I took very seriously (and worried about immensely, holding Josie up as some kind of symbol) and I am so grateful that so many families have found Josie not just believable but worth knowing.

*Tell us about your next project.

I just finished my first prose novel titled THE RIVER PALACE (and I feel like I’m cheating on poetry, to tell you the truth). It is an historical fiction novel set in the summer of 1853. An adventure story told through the eyes of a BOY on a circus boat! Quite a departure for me. I have two other books coming out next year besides The River Palace- 42 MILES is a poetry/narrative collection about a girl learning to define herself and STEADY HANDS: POEMS ABOUT WORK are portraits of people doing their jobs. 2008 is going to be thrilling and busy!

*How do you approach each book? Does it start with an idea, a phrase, an image? Do ideas come easy or do you really have to search for them?

I have lots of ideas but most of them tank. I always have a notebook handy though in case I get a good one. An idea that keeps coming back (like all that laundry that never seems to disappear) is usually a good sign that it has staying power but I often don’t know until I’m drafting. If I lose faith or don’t want to work on it is a reason to let it go.

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