Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tracing Stars by Erin Moulton - Interview

Tracing Stars
Erin Moulton (facebook | twitter)
Publisher: Philomel/Penguin (May 2012. 240 p. $16.99. 978-0-399-25696-7)
Source: author
Genre: Realistic (theater)
Rating: 4/5
Buy it: Amazon | Indiebound

Tracing Stars is what Indie and her sister, Bebe, do when they need to make an incredibly important wish.  And this particular summer, after 5th and 6th grades, when they are starting to grow apart, when they make separate friends, when Indie suffers a loss, every wish is incredibly important.  Indie wants to re-invent herself and Bebe wants to help, but at what cost? Tune in July 13, 2012 when I review Tracing Stars!

Here, Erin E. Moulton answers my questions about work, writing, researching, and sticking up for the people you care about. Oh, and the importance of reading.

1. What type of librarian were you and why aren't you one now?

Actually, I am a librarian currently. Not by schooling, but because it is something I am pretty ok at, I guess. I also have the benefit of a great boss and team at work who can get me up to speed with questions that would be more easily answered if I had an MLS. I used to work as an educational director. Before that, a theater technician. And somewhere in between, I was a tutor. I have worked with kids throughout most of my careers, and I currently am the teen librarian at the Derry Public Library. I love the 12-18 age group. They are wonderful, inventive, smart and honest.

2. Some of the characters' names are so unique. How did you come up with them? ( Indie, Bebe, Mr. Squiggles, Mr. Lemur)

Sometimes names just peek in and then they are gone in a flash. By that I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking on character’s names. Indie was a natural choice because she finds her individuality. Mr. Squiggles, well, in my head Mr. Squiggles just looks like a Mr. Squiggles. Actually, now that I am looking really close, he kind of looks like the Swedish Chef. But Mr. Squiggles is a fun sounding name for a guy who makes fried calamari. There really is no special formula, I am afraid, and that is why I have a sort of lame answer. They literally just pop into my head and I usually go with the flow.  

3. As a middle school librarian, we remark often how the new sixth graders are emotionally so far from the seventh graders. How did you capture that so well between Indie and Bebe?

Huh, I am glad I hit on that. I hadn’t done it on purpose, but it is a good thing that it worked! I do have three sisters, though, and I am the second oldest. So whenever I am working with a sister relationship I try hard to look at relationships I know and get the pecking order straight. Because I am second oldest, I get the benefit of knowing what it is like to feel like a big sister AND a little sister. I bet that is where the authenticity came from J.

4. Do you have a diary? I mean an "observation log'? If so, what's your deepest, darkest secret?

Oh, I have lots and lots of journals. I can’t tell you my deepest darkest secret because then it would no longer be a secret. Don’t worry, it’s not like I murdered anyone. I will tell you, though, that if you look in my old journals, you will be super confused. When I was in 7th grade I was reading Romeo and Juliet, and liked to write in iambic pentameter. 

Then I got to 9th and 10th grade, I liked to read things in Middle English so I started throwing in middle English symbols and words. Especially with the TH and CH digraphs. 

Around the same time I was questioning grammar, apparently. I know, what is there to question? NO idea. But I was, Rebelling/against;the proper”way of doing things--. You see what I mean. 

In college I was relatively good about record keeping. Now, I do a lot of lists and chicken scratch story boards. I feel pretty certain no one will ever be able to decipher them, but will probably burn them before I die. Well, I’ll burn all but one that has a treasure map in it.

5. Indie is always reciting fish names and making fish faces. What type of research did you have to do about fish and fish names?

The fish faces were easy. I had to step in front of a mirror a few times to describe it right.  I had to look at the fish of course and compare it to my own face, which was both comical and complicated.

 I did do some research for the fish names. It didn’t require a whole lot because of the context it was used in. Instead of Indie using a lot of fish terminology, she uses a lot of names. So I looked up and made a list of Atlantic Ocean fish. I worked with that to make sure she didn’t repeat herself too much. 

I think most of the technical language is in the theater parts. I used to work in the theater and I worked in theaters in Boston when I was right out of college, I have that filed away in the back of my head.

6. Is there any truth behind the story of The Lobster Monty Cola?

No! Well, I mean, there is no golden lobster --to my knowledge--that likes to drink Coca-Cola. However, there are golden lobsters and they are one in 30 million. Though, it is important to note: I have been told that even golden lobsters, when boiled, will turn red. So you wouldn’t know if you were at Red Lobster and were chowing down on Monty!

7. Have you ever had a friend you wished you'd stuck up for? If not, how did you dream up that scene with Indie and Owen?

There was one incident on the playground when I was in second grade where I should have stuck up for my little sister. A kid had her by the arms and was swinging her around. I thought he was going to let go and she would go flying. I didn’t want to escalate the whole situation, so I was playing it cool, trying to stand close by and not scream. I joked around like it wasn’t bothering me. My little sister, who was being swung around, did the same: laughed like it didn’t bother her. Luckily, he got bored of it and set her down and we went on our merry way.

Otherwise, I think I held up with integrity. I THINK. High School friends correct me if I am wrong. I read a lot as a kid. I think reading teaches you things like empathy and loyalty and what it feels like in another’s skin. So honor, loyalty and empathy were very important to me growing up. If there was a circumstance that required me to be bold, well, I would be bold. For example, my mom always worked with the mentally ill and I grew up around many people who were either mentally ill or in need of other special services. I often had to correct my acquaintances on their notions of people they dubbed as “strange and crazy.”

Don’t get me wrong, my friends kept me in line as well. We had a good community and looked out for each other.

Honestly, that scene was VERY hard for me to write. I was concerned Indie would come off as callous and thoughtless. I was annoyed with her weakness. However, she needed to hit her weakest moment in order to grow, so I had to send her to the brink. I had to grit my teeth and write through it a few times. In that moment, I love Owen and Sloth so much more than Indie. Sloth who says, “Shhh, Shhh, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.” That’s something I honestly believe, and have believed for a long time. 

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely enjoyed reading this interview and such thoughtful, cool answers from the author. A really good look at what makes the writer tick. Thanks! Love Erin Moulton's books and can't wait for the next adventure!


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