Monday, January 26, 2015

Author Interview with Phoebe North

For my first interview of 2015, I bring to you Phoebe North, author of the YA science fiction books STARGLASS and its sequel, STARBREAK (Simon & Schuster).  In the first book, we learn that Terra’s forebearers left Earth 500 years ago so that the future generation, one that Terra belongs to, can find a new home planet. So the only world Terra has known is one inside a small city contained within a spaceship.  

Terra’s mother was murdered years ago. Her father is cold and uncaring.  She is engaged to a boy who is aloof and unaffectionate toward her. What Terra has going for her is an apprenticeship where she learns about plants, and she brings knowledge of this subject with her when the spaceship lands…  

Where were you born, and where do you live now?  I was born and raised in New Jersey, and now live in New York State, after sojourns in both Florida and Northern Virginia.

How did your MFA in Poetry that you received from the University of Florida influence your fiction writing?
The MFA I received in poetry was the first step toward seeing myself as a professional writer. I'm very grateful for the time and dedication of my professors there, even if the experience was mostly instructive in teaching me the kind of writer I'm not--namely, a literary poet!

Was there a part of your childhood or adolescence that you weaved into your writing of STARGLASS and STARBREAK?
Sure. Like Terra, I lost a parent when I was young. I was also prone to falling wildly in love with boys who were all wrong for me. It wasn't until I met my now-husband (like Terra, at a fairly young age) that I realized that love should be healing, rather than damaging.

The vivid setting of STARGLASS and STARBREAK came with parents having children through artificial wombs, telepathic dreaming, and a planet of interesting plant life. What tips do you have for effective world building?
Do tons of research, but don't feel obligated to let it all show. Reveal your world slowly and deliberately; readers will fill in the gaps, and your universe will feel much richer for it.

I’ve heard industry professionals say they’re not interested in books with religious content. As for myself, I liked the way you wove references to religion into STARGLASS and STARBREAK because it gave the story additional depth. How did incorporating Judaism into STARGLASS and STARBREAK affect interest of your book among agents and editors?
It seemed to be a real draw, in part because many professionals in New York publishing have Jewish backgrounds that are somewhat motley, like my own. Of course, I wouldn't call either book in the Starglass sequence "religious" per se. They're not preaching or trying to teach a lesson. But the religious background of the characters is grounded in real life religious identity. That sort of complexity of approach really helped make my books stand out, I think.

Who were your favorite authors/books to read while you were growing up?
I loved books with messy girls: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Are there upcoming projects you’d like to share about?
Too soon to say! :)


Natalie Aguirre said...

Fantastic interview. I loved Phoebe's advice on the research. So true that we often know more than we include in the book. Her books sound really interesting. Congrats to her!

Pat Hatt said...

Great interview indeed. haha who needs to be a literary poet anyway

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Such gorgeous covers! And I think it was wonderful that she was able to incorporate her characters' religion into the book as part of who they are without making religion an "issue" in the book -- or having it squelched by editors.

David P. King said...

These stories sound right up my alley. Pleased to meet you, Phoebe! :)

Sherry Ellis said...

Those are great covers! Congratulations to Phoebe!

Nick Wilford said...

Great interview. The premise of these books sounds excellent.

Suzanne Furness said...

Sounds interesting, congrats Phoebe, I wish you every success.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great interview. I love Phoebe's covers.

Arlee Bird said...

This sounds like a fascinating world. I don't like books that preach too much, but religious thought can offer many possibilities. Spiritual thinking can present interesting philosophical contemplation.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

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