Today we have an awesome interview with Marie Landry! She’s an NA/YA author and her novels are full of diversity so I thought and interview with her would be appropriate. I’ve decided to focus on her YA for the purposes of the interview but if you are an NA reader, I highly highly encourage you to check out her site and her NA novels (especially Take Them by the Storm), as I’m sure they’re awesome! Her answers are all thoughtful and awesome, I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do! We also have a giveaway so please read the interview to enter!
About the Novel
For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying.
When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reserve, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school.
Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought…
After the Storm is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm.
About the Author
Marie has the best job in the world—one where she gets to make stuff up for a living and shamelessly eavesdrop on everyone around her. She writes happily ever afters while dreaming about the day she’ll have her own epic love story to tell. Most days you can find her writing, reading, fantasizing about traveling the world, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece.
For more on Marie and her books please visit http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca. She also loves to chat with fellow book lovers, so feel free to tweet her @SweetMarie83 any time!
Q: Please describe your (YA) book using any five words!
Family, redemption, fresh start, friendship
Q: Your novels are part of a companion series with books that can be read as stand-alone. How does it feel to write a companion series vs. direct sequels?
Writing companions is fun, but tricky. With sequels, it’s usually safe to assume most people have read the first book, but with companions, people might read only one book or read all of them but not in order. I tried hard to make sure each book stood on its own and that if I mentioned something from a previous book, I explained it and didn’t assume the reader would know what I was talking about.
Q: Where does your inspiration for your novels come from?
Everywhere. I’m an unapologetic eavesdropper (I’ve always said it’s an occupational hazard), so I pick up bits of dialogue or ideas from people’s conversations. I read a lot, plus watch a lot of TV and movies, so little seeds of ideas come from those and then spin off into something new and different. Some ideas also come from my own life – for instance, the idea for Waiting for the Storm came after my Grama (who was one of my closest friends) died, and I was drowning in grief. My Grama was born and raised on an island, and so the idea was born of a girl moving to an island for the summer with her family and navigating her way through grief and anxiety.
Q: The lines between YA/NA are often blurred. How do you, personally, make the distinction?
For me the distinction comes from the characters’ experiences rather than their age. YA is more of an uncertain time – actions are often fueled by emotions and hormones, and everything seems like life or death. Every mistake you make is a potential life ruiner, every fight with your best friend or significant other is the end of the world. With NA, there’s still sometimes that sense of things being fueled by emotions and hormones, but I think people see their mistakes more as something to learn and grow from. It’s a time of exploration – exploring your identity, your place in the world, your sexuality, and exploring the world itself. There are different rules (or norules), and more freedom, and it’s usually the first time people are getting to experience true freedom and the fun, stress, adventures, responsibility, and mistakes that come with it.
Q: Your novels are full of diversity, such as an interracial couple in your YA novel, After the Storm and an LGBT main character in your NA novel, Take Them by Storm. How did you go about writing/researching the diverse elements in your novels?
In After the Storm, Ella’s boyfriend is aboriginal. He comes from Tyendinaga, which is an actual Mohawk First Nation reserve in southeastern Ontario. I grew up (and still live) just minutes from there, and have had aboriginal friends my whole life. My first boyfriend was aboriginal. Between that and a lifelong fascination with Native culture and history, it seemed natural that River would be aboriginal. I pulled from my own knowledge base, did some online research, asked friends questions when needed, and had an aboriginal beta reader to make sure the portrayal of River and his mother, Fawn, was accurate and fair. Take Them by Storm was written from personal experience, but when I incorporated the LGBT Centre, I did some research on centres, as well as different types of sexuality and gender identity, because it ties into some of the things Sadie learns while working in the centre. I also had an LGBT beta reader, since everyone’s experiences are different and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed something important.
Q: If you don’t mind me asking, why do you write diverse books?
It honestly wasn’t something I thought much about until recently, although thinking back, almost all my books have some diverse element. It just came naturally. Now that authors, readers, and publishers are talking openly about and demanding more diverse books (yay!), it’s made me see how truly important they are. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected on the page. I know how frustrated I was years ago when there were hardly any LGBT books out there, and I can’t imagine how disheartening it must be for people of colour or different cultures or religions or people with disabilities who almost never see themselves as the hero or heroine of a book, or even a side character. Things like that can shape a reader, or make or break a reader.
Q: What’s one thing you’d like to see more of in diverse YA?
Just one thing?! Haha. I want to see all kinds of diversity. I always want more LGBT books and books featuring people of colour, but I’d also like to see more socio-economic diversity, more neurodiversity, more cultural and religious diversity. I’d like to see more characters like Willowdean in Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, who’s fat and proud and doesn’t need to lose weight to discover her self-worth. I’d like to see more characters like Skylar from Heather Demetrios’s I’ll Meet You There, who live in poverty. I’d like to see more characters like Samantha from Tamara Ireland Stone’s Every Last Word, who deal with mental health issues. I’d also like to see more interracial couples and LGBT characters where their differences aren’t turned into plot points and where the book isn’t an “issue book”. Those stories are important and still needed, but I’d like to see young adults living normal, happy, healthy lives, regardless of their sexual orientation or the colour of their skin or their religion or their physical or mental abilities.
You can enter to win an ebook of either TAKE THEM BY STORM or AFTER THE STORM! A swag pack is also pictured below! Good luck!
What did you think of the interview with Marie Landry? Have you read any of her novels? Comment below!