Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Author Interview: Steve Cushman (Heart with Joy)

Today I would like to welcome Steve Cushman to My Reading Room.  Steve has a YA novel out, Heart With Joy that I will be reviewing tomorrow.  For today he has agreed to answer my interview questions.  So please join me in welcoming author Steve Cushman. 
How did you celebrate when you found out Heart With Joy would be published?
I did what I usually do after hearing some good news related to my writing.  I hooted and hollered and acted like a fool, saying yes, yes, yes.  But then I went back and re-read the e-mail, making sure it was real.
How would you describe Heart With Joy to others?
It's a coming of age novel about bird watching and cooking and falling in love for the first time.  But it's also about following your heart, or finding your passion in life, and trusting that it will take you where you need to go.  It's also about a father and son relationship and discovering that sometimes the thing you need most in life has been right there in front of you all along.
Where did the idea for Heart With Joy come from?
It started years ago with this idea of a father and son who were thrown together after the mother leaves.  All I knew at the beginning was that the father and son were not that close and my goal was to somehow bring them together, and it took a while to figure out that it was Julian, the son, and his passion for cooking that would eventually bring them closer.
There aren't as many YA books out there with a male main character, what made you choose to  have the main character be male? (I'm thrilled to see a male main character - I am raising two boys and cringe at the hole there is in YA books for boys, I want them to continue to read as teenagers so I get excited when I see books about boys).
As a writer, I usually go with my instinct and let the story take off.  By that I mean I don't analyze what I'm writing or think too much about it until I've got a really strong draft of writing.  It never occurred to me to make the main character of this book a girl.  It just came out as a boy.  Of course, I've written from a female point of view in the past, but like I said, I just knew this one would be about a father and son.
Did you plan this book out or do you just write and see where it took you?
Just had the kernel of an idea at the beginning and kept working and working until the story came to me.  That is generally how I write--keep plugging away, hoping that the next step in the story will be revealed to me or trusting that if I put in the time writing and working on something it will come.  I'll put a piece of writing aside for a while until something does come.  I'm always working on a few writing projects at once, so if something slows down or I need a break, I can always go on to something else.
Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
Yes, I make time to read.  Most writers I know love to read and that is what got them writing in the first place.  I definitely prefer fiction over non-fiction.  I read adult literary fiction, mysteries, YA, etc...  Anything that sounds good to me.  Even though I studied writing and earned an MFA, I am certainly not a literary snob and will pick up and read whatever looks good.  The last really good book I read was Sherman Alexie's "The True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."  Great book.  If you haven't read it, run out and buy it right now.  
What is your favorite room in your house?
Upstairs in my writing room, which isn't really a writing room at all but an upstairs loft with a bed and a bathroom and, of course, my writing desk and computer in a corner.  I've spent so much time in that room, alone, over the eight years we've owned the house that it is a good place for me.  I've received a lot of good writing news in that room. 
What is your favorite spot to read in?
If the weather is good, then out on a chair on my back porch, but if I'm inside I have a comfortable old leather LA-Z-Boy in the living room that works perfect for kicking back and reading.
What is your favorite snack food?
Pretzels or bagels.  I'm a carb fiend. 
What is your favorite season?
Fall.  I like the relief from the heat and the beautiful fall colors here in North Carolina.  Plus, all three of my books were published in the fall, so I've got a lot of good fall memories with driving to various bookstores and book-related events.
Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
I work full time, Monday-Friday, so I get up early in the morning and write for an hour or hour and a half before I have to wake everyone up and start getting ready for work.
Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?
I'm still doing a good number of book signings and blog appearances coming up.  Please visit my web site for more dates, www.stevecushman.net
Do you have a new book in the works?
I do have a first draft of another YA novel that I'm looking forward to getting back to.  Like Heart With Joy, it features a teenage boy as the main character.  Will see what happens.   
Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks for taking the time interview me for this blog.  And to everyone reading this blog, please don't ever, no matter what anyone else tells you, give up on your dreams.  If you have something you love to do--whether it's writing or knitting or collecting coins--just put your heart into it and do it.