Today I’m pleased to introduce Mindy Hardwick, author of YA novel Stained Glass Summer and a facilitator of poetry workshops for youth in juvenile detention centres. She’s just another one of the amazing souls I’ve met working for Musa.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Stained Glass Summer?
Stained Glass Summer is the story of artistic mentorship. Twelve-year-old Jasmine adores her
photographer Father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on Island boy, Cole. But, Jasmine can let go of her Father and call herself an artist by her own terms.
Readers can find out more about Stained Glass Summer, including a free study/discussion guide on my website page at: http://www.mindyhardwick.com/books/stained-glass-summer/
2. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
The first time I realized I wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby was while working on my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College . One of the best pieces of advice I heard was stories come in many different containers. There are YA, MG, Picture Books, Chapter Books, short stories, articles, non-fiction books, and novellas. I realized I didn’t have to be only a YA writer or a MG writer. I could be a Children’s Writer and write stories for many different ages. At that point, I realized writing was something I could pursue as more than a hobby.
3. What inspired you to write Stained Glass Summer?
An artist friend gave me two pieces of broken glass she found in an art supply dumpster. That night, main character, Jasmine, showed up in my blue chair and said, “Hello, my name is Jasmine. I am an artist, and it’s time to tell my story.”
4. YA is technically a newer categoy, but really YA books are as old as any other books. Can you think of any YA authors you love who wrote before the genre actually existed?
I don’t think YA officially existed when I was reading books in the 80’s. My favorite author is Cynthia Voigt. Homecoming and Dicey’s Song are my two favorites by Cynthia Voigt. I often feel that Jasmine would be very good friends with Dicey. Both of them are characters who survive after a parent abandons them.
5. Do you find it challenging to get into the point of view of a character younger than yourself? What tricks do you use to get into the right point of view?
I’ve never found it challenging to get into the point of view of a child character. I think this is how I intuitively know that I am a children’s writer. After I graduated with my BA in Creative Writing, I applied for MFA Creative Writing Programs where the focus was on writing adult stories. I didn’t get in to the programs. However, ten years later, when I found the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children Program, I knew that was exactly the right fit for my writing voice! By that point, I’d been a seventh and eighth grade teacher for six years and I read a lot of YA and MG. It was easy to bring the voices and stories from the classroom into my writing.
6. You facilitate poetry workshops with the teens at Denney Youth Juvenile Justice Center. Can you tell us a bit about how you came into this job and why you continue to work with them?
I started volunteering with the teens at Denney after a writer friend of mine told me about a program in Seattle called Pongo Writing Project. The Seattle Detention Center was too far away for me to make a weekly commitment, but she encouraged me to contact the detention center in my area. I did and the program director was thrilled to have me volunteer. Coincidentally, the first day, I ran into a man who I used to teach with. He was the Detention Center School Principal. Eventually, we have moved the program to be part of the school day, and now we obtain grants for me to run the program.
I continue to work with the teens at Denney because they inspire my stories. My upcoming book, WEAVING MAGIC, is directly inspired by the kids in detention. There is even a scene where main character, Christopher, is in detention and participates in a poetry workshop.
If your readers would like to know more about the Denney Poetry Program, please visit our blog at:
www.denneypoetry.com The kids’ poems are posted on the blog and there is a list of resources I use in the poetry project including YA and memoirs.
7. It’s hard to make a living as a poet, more so than with other types of writing. Do you have any advice specifically for poets trying to find their way?
I give a Creative Writing Scholarship at our local high school and what I tell all of the Creative Writing Scholarship recipients is to be sure to have a practical skill to go along with the writing. My skill of teaching has worked great as a combination with writing.
8. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your writing career?
To be focused on the things that you can control–writing the best story you can. Study your craft. Participate in a writer’s critique group. Read current books published in your genre. There is a lot of change in the publishing industry, and a lot of things that are out of a writer’s hands. The most important thing a writer can do is keep writing.
9. As a multi-published author, do you think you make enough money from your writing to survive without a day job? (Please talk a bit about the challenges of taking the plunge/why you would or would not)
Writing income is very inconsistent. I think the most important element of building a writing career is what I said above, make sure you have a practical skill which goes along with your writing. One of the things I do is teach educators distance learning classes through Seattle Pacific University. I love that work. It keeps me connected to teachers who love children’s and YA books. I am, also, a frequent school and library workshop presenter which keeps me connected to the kids. I’ve always loved teaching, and combining both is a natural fit.
10. What are you working on right now that readers can look forward to?
WEAVING MAGIC, a young adult romance is forthcoming on April 27, 2012.
Here’s a blurb: He loves magic. She loves romance. But the biggest illusion is the one Shantel and Christopher perform together. Sixteen- year- old Christopher fights to stay sober while fifteen-year-old Shantel struggles in the aftermath of her mother’s death and seeks refuge in a fantasy world. But the unacknowledged roots of their problems refuse to stay buried and soon, the two are headed toward a deadly magic trick. Can Shantel and Christopher move beyond magical illusions to find love?
I just got my cover art for WEAVING MAGIC and I absolutely love it!
When the book is available, readers will be able to purchase both print and e-books. Readers can visit WEAVING MAGIC’s page on my website for the buy link as well as to download a free study guide.
I always love to hear from readers and teachers!
Bio: Mindy Hardwick is a published children’s writer whose books include: Stained Glass Summer (Musa Publishing/Euterpe Imprint) and Weaving Magic (Forthcoming April 27, 2012. MuseItup Publishing). She facilitates a poetry workshop with teens at Denney Youth Juvenile Justice Center. Mindy is the co-editor of four anthologies, written by the youth at Denney, as well as their blog at www.denneypoetry.com. Mindy is included on the Washington State Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster and worked with the youth of the Tulalip Tribe in the 2011 New Directions Music and Art Prevention Program. She is one of the teaching artists included in the Reclaiming Futures Artist Mentor Program at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. Mindy holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and is a member of Seattle SCBWI.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of Stained Glass Summer, you can do so for $3.99 here.