I’m very pleased to welcome Young Adult author, Jo Ramsay, to Flights of Imagination today. Jo’s soon to be published book, Dolphins in the Mud, partly deals with the interesting subjects of loneliness, autism, bipolar disorder, abandonment, and young male attraction. And of course there are fascinating dolphins.
Blurb for Dolphins in the Mud
When Chris Talberman’s family moved to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Chris left behind his boyfriend, his friends, and his sports. Six months after moving, Chris still feels alone and isolated, mostly because of his mother’s unwillingness to let their neighbors see too much of Cece, Chris’s autistic younger sister.
When a pod of dolphins strand themselves in the cove outside Chris’s house, Cece runs out to see them. Chris chases her and meets Noah Silver, the boy who catches Cece. After Chris’s mother retrieves Cece, Chris and Noah begin to talk. And to become friends. Noah, homeschooled and with parents who move from place to place throughout the year, is even more alone than Chris, and he’s just as eager to find a friend. Maybe Chris’s life will change for the better after all.
Then everything goes downhill. Fed up with taking care of Cece, Chris’s mother abandons the family, leaving Chris’s workaholic father in charge. With no one else to talk to, Chris turns to Noah, and their relationship deepens. But Noah has problems he isn’t willing to share.
Dolphins in the Mud will be released by Featherweight Press in May 2012.
Thanks for answering the following questions, Jo.
Tell us a little about how you became a writer
I didn’t so much become a writer as be born one. I started making up stories when I was two or three years old, and when I was five, I started writing them down. By the time I was twelve, I was writing novel-length stories.
What made you write for middle grade/YA readers?
I write for young adult readers because I’m kind of stuck in those years myself. Some of my high school experiences weren’t great (I dealt with a lot of bullying), so I try to rewrite life through my stories.
Did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?
Auugh! You said the “r” word! Seriously, while I like learning things, research is one of my least favourite parts of writing. I try to write stories that don’t take much research. For Dolphins in the Mud, the two aspects that would have required the most research - Chris’s younger sister’s autism and his love interest’s bipolar disorder - are things I have personal experience with, so I didn’t have to do much research.
Do you think reading is important for young people today, and why?
I think reading is important for everyone. It’s hard to explain why; it just is.
Did you read a lot when growing up – any author in particular influence you?
I read constantly when I was growing up. I learned from it and was also able to escape from my own life. One of the biggest influences on me was Susan Cooper; her books got me interested in good fighting evil in the “real” world as opposed to in fantasy worlds, and that’s a lot of what I write now.
What is the most difficult part about starting a new book?
Figuring out where to start. I sometimes start too early in the story and end up having to delete a chapter or two to get to the actual action.
Do you have a favourite writing place?
It isn’t exactly my favorite; I only have one writing place. I have a desk in an alcove of my living room, with all my notes and things taped to the wall and a couple bookshelves where I keep things I need to be able to find.
Do you think eBooks are the future?
I think eBooks are the present. They’ve become increasingly more prevalent, and even younger kids now sometimes own e-readers. But I don’t think e-books will ever completely replace print books.
How do you promote your books and does it work?
I have my own website, which includes a blog, and a Facebook group where readers can chat with me. I post on some Facebook and e-mail loops, and visit other people’s blogs like I’m doing now. I also belong to three group blogs where I post two to four times a month.
Do you find time for hobbies?
I could find time, but I haven’t found any hobbies that interest me.
What are your current writing plans?
I have several novels under contract which will be releasing between now and early 2013. I’m working on a couple of YA contemporary novels, and getting ready to do some work on a couple of books in my YA urban fantasy series.
Any tips for new writers?
Don’t give up, even if it takes time to get where you want to be with your career. Don’t jump at being published by just any company; do your research and make sure you’re signing with a publisher who will do their best for you and your books. And don’t give up. (I know I said that twice; it bears repeating.) Absolutely!
Until recently, all those manuscripts gathered dust on a shelf in her study. She didn’t try to find a publisher for them. Since January 2010, however, both series are being published by Jupiter Gardens Press, and other books are under contract with Featherweight Press. (Both are small, royalty-paying publishers.)
Jo is a former special education teacher who now does school visits in addition to writing. She lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, husband, and a pair of cats.