June Author Spotlight
Because June brings us halfway through this year of author spotlights, I have a special treat—a double delight if you will: two authors who released their beautiful turquoise-tinted young adult novels last year to great acclaim. Let’s get to it!
Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code. Her YA book, Pandemic, has recently been awarded the prestigious SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Atlantic region. And, after this interview took place, I learned that Yvonne is one of twenty authors published in the “Prep For Doom” anthology which releases NEXT WEEK!
Please share a little about your books.
Pandemic (Sky Pony Press, 2014), is a young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak. School Library Journal called Pandemic “an engrossing apocalyptic story” and Kirkus Reviews said “this realistic page-turner will keep most readers enthralled.” My other writing credits include two nonfiction books for teens, Avril Lavigne (a biography of the singer) and Publishing (about careers in the field).
Could you briefly tell us your writing process?
For Pandemic, my main process was to intertwine my plot idea (deadly contagious disease strikes suburban NJ) with my character idea (Lilianna, who is recovering from trauma, must survive the illness without help from her family). While writing, I also researched historical and emerging illnesses, as well as public response to them, to make the story feel as real as possible. The fictionalized bird flu progressively spreads and worsens during the novel which creates a series of complications and events for Lilianna to overcome. It took me about two years to write and revise Pandemic so that these pieces came together in a compelling way.
What advice would you give new authors hoping to become published?
Treat writing like any other job that requires certain skills. Evaluate what you are good at and what you need to improve. Maybe your weakness is unnatural sounding dialogue or adding too much description (or not enough!) for the target age group. After determining what needs work, focus on that area by reading craft books, doing research, etc. and concentrate on developing that skill. Just because we are good writers doesn’t mean we are good at every part of writing.
favorite book = My favorite from childhood was The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
favorite movie = I’m not a big movie person, but I love the TV show Criminal Minds.
favorite vacation = Any place tropical!
favorite hobby = Genealogy. I love researching my family’s history.
favorite color = Blue for clothes and Pandemic’s cover. 🙂 Red for everything else.
Thanks, Yvonne, great answers! Keep in touch with Yvonne via these links: