2015 Printz Program

imageMichael Printz Award Program

I made it to ALA on Friday and got registered and witnessed the Running of the Librarians — the opening of the exhibits. My roommate and I tried to go to Saroj Ghoting’s program at 3:00 on Friday afternoon, but there was no room whatsoever — people standing at the doors trying to listen. So we got to the conference, registered, found some food, and then tackled the exhibits.

I showed more restraint grabbing ARCs than I did at Midwinter. Though I’m still going to have to manage to get them home by mailing them.

I’m used to the Printz program being held on Monday night, rather than Friday night. I don’t think I’m going to last very long, still on East Coast time.

Daniel Kraus & Diane Colson moderated.

Jenny Hubbard — And We Stay
Jessie Ann Foley — The Carnival at Bray
Andrew Smith — Grasshopper Jungle
Mariko and Jillian Tamaki — This One Summer
Winner — Jandy Nelson — I’ll Give You the Sun

Jandy Nelson gave a speech first:
Happy Historic weekend in San Francisco
Lunatic screaming when she got the call.
The greatest honor of her life. “Because of you my heart’s bigger than a blue whale.”
First thank you for the librarians in the room.
It was books that secretly subversively taught me to fly.
Books open the world to young people. They find the books because of librarians.
We make libraries the lighthouse for so many young people.
What is the inspiration for the book?
Process was odd — in a black room. A book about color and light.
Took a stone carving class to better understand the characters.
She talks about all kinds of crazy and complicated love.
What she really thinks inspired it: When writing The Sky Is Everywhere, about devastating grief, kept sliding into ecstasy. She discovered writing fiction.
Grief and love, grief and joy are inextricably conjoined.
Art and healing go together.
Has always liked mystics.
Got to thinking about creation as a mystical process.
Began to think about the ecstasy of great artists. Looked at their creative processes.
Meant to write a nonfiction book about ecstatic mysticism of artists.
We are indeed remaking the world, people. No time to waste; nothing to lose.

Panel (Daniel Kraus)
Was there anything that felt different about this project?
Jandy: Characters had more agency, and she had less control.
Her character appeared in a dream. A collaboration between her and the characters.
Mariko & Jillian: A literal collaboration (they’re cousins) Mariko got excited when she saw the drawings.
Emotion overflowing. No hiding behind people.
Andrew: What was different: Unemployment. Planned to get out of the writing business. A lot more reasons to stick with something than turn away from it.
Jessie: First novel she’s written, but not first she’s started. Excited motivation stayed with her throughout the process. It was a difficult year teaching — but the writing kept her sane.
Jenny: She couldn’t write when she was teaching. Started in the dark and moved to the light. First drafts were too depressing! But it slowly moved to the light. Was always haunted by Columbine and the side stories we didn’t hear about.

DK: What happens after you finished the first rough draft?
Jenny: Didn’t have the luxury of letting it sit around. Was under the gun to produce this second novel. Started the book over from a different point of view. Had been from the sister’s perspective. Switched to the girlfriend’s perspective. It opened a new avenue.
Jessie: Does her rewrites chapter by chapter. First person she gave it to was her husband, who is Irish. She was most nervous to have him read it.
Andrew: I don’t draft. I just write it, and then I’m done with it. Like a house, when I’m done, I want to live in it.
He let his son in college read it.
Jillian: Mariko writes as a dialog, not panel-by-panel. Jillian does a sketch version of the whole book. She can’t imagine not being horrified by the first draft. Then they edited it.
Mariko: In comics, you get this really incredible first read. The people become more real.
Jillian: You have to be not precious about what you hand over. Jillian fleshes it all out from a skeleton, but Mariko allows herself to be surprised about what’s layered onto it.
Jandy: Sick with jealousy over Andrew Smith and one draft. She does hundreds of drafts. Wrote Noah’s story start to finish, then Jude’s story start to finish. Then intertwined. Didn’t combine the narratives for 2 1/2 years, and didn’t show it to anyone until then.

DK: How do you approach emotional scenes?
Andrew: Because I don’t outline either, I”m so involved in my characters and their psychologies, emotional scenes are organic. When he wrote a crushing scene, it was crushing to him, too.
Jessie: One scene in particular was really hard to write. Reminded her how difficult it is to be a kid. Her editor asked her to rewrite it and heighten the emotion. Each time it got more difficult.
Jenny: She treats an emotional scene like a little play and says it out loud. A fine line between melodrama & drama. She mostly is backing herself up. Felt strangely bereft when she finished the book.
Jillian: Books are often about communication and non-communication. Some of that explodes in this book. She likes ambiguity in figures — this was harder to draw the strong emotions. It’s hard to let your characters not be nice people.
Mariko: I’ve done enough therapy now that I can cry when my characters do sad things. When she saw the pictures, it hit her a lot harder.
Jillian: She hates things to be too literal in the images.
Jandy: I love writing emotional scenes, with her heart racing and sweating. If she feels it, she thinks her readers. Mostly has to take down the emotion.

DK: Is there a new or fairly recent book you’d like to recommend.
Jenny: An adult book called “Some Day This Pain Will Be Useful to You,” by Peter Cameron. Felt like she did when she read Catcher in the Rye the first time.
Jessie: She loves books about music. “Scar Boys” by Len Vlahos. Sequel next year, “Scar Girl”
Andrew: Doesn’t like answering this question. But he does have a book coming out in September. Stand Off.
It’s your job, not us!
Jillian: read an old biography of a sumo wrestler
Mariko: Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian
When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Jandy: The Snow Child — but don’t read the blurbs or the back of the book.
Now reading A Tale of a Time Being

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