Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Author: Margo Sorenson and Aloha for Carol Ann

I had heard good things about Margo Sorenson's popular children's books ages ago. We scheduled her guest post long before I realized this was Banned Books Week! (I doubt you'll find her books on the banned list, but never say never.) Margo will be appearing at the Friends of the Duarte Library Festival of Authors October 8th on the Children/Young Adult panel at 10:30am. Please welcome today's guest author, Margo Sorenson.
As a kid growing up, I used to take the bus to the Pasadena Library, spending hours there, going over the books, making my choices, always keeping in mind I’d have to carry them all the way from the bus stop at the top of Lake up the hill to my house. Those were some hard decisions! There was a little delicatessen right by the bus stop, and I’d stop and buy one of those gigantic cookies with the chocolate drop in the center. That cookie lasted through at least a first chapter, but I’m not sure which I looked forward to more – the cookie or the chapter!

Those summer days filled with reading in the Pasadena area have influenced my writing, even though my most recent children’s book, ALOHA FOR CAROL ANN, takes place in Hawaii, as do others, since I lived on Oahu for ten years with my own family. Where you live when you’re young seeps into your cells and colors your perception of the world, and little bits of Pasadena, Arcadia, Glendale, San Marino, and Altadena still end up in my books.
 
DANGER CANYON actually takes place in Eaton Canyon and Henninger Flats, where I used to hike with my John Muir High School classmates. We were so foolish on one of those hikes that we almost didn’t make it back, and that scary, helpless feeling is one I tried to communicate in the story. When I do author school visits, the kids are in shock that, yes, I really was that stupid!

One of my unpublished YA* novels (and I have plenty of those!) takes place in Pasadena during the Beach Boy days. How well I remember telling my parents I was going to the Pasadena Library, and instead drove with my friends to Bob’s on Colorado Blvd. to check out the guys, “Little Deuce Coupe” blaring into the night air. I blush to think I earned my first ticket speeding through Bob’s alley.

When I was writing FUNNY MAN, another YA novel, I saw protagonist Derek as going to John Muir, even though I’d taught in other high schools myself. Of course, I won’t share the name of the teacher who ended up as his nemesis, Dowling the Dragon!
 
I’ve lived many places, Spain, Italy, Orange County, Hawaii, and Minnesota, but those junior high and high school experiences in the San Gabriel Valley are part and parcel of what I write for young readers. With any luck, they’ll have more common sense than I did during my own adventures!


*Young Adult

           

23 comments:

Petrea Burchard said...

Last time I was at the Central library's book shop, a woman there was buying up every single children's book they had.

As a child, reading was so important to me. We need good authors writing for kids; it's an important part of a good start.

Margo said...

Thanks, Petrea, for inviting me to post -- and for supporting SGV authhors and reading!

altadenahiker said...

I've been a fan of children's books all my life. Particularly like that some of your stories have taken place right here -- must check them out.

Steven said...

Hi Margo. Nice to see you have carved out a nice niche in the writing world. That must be quite a rush seeing your book go from a concept to the bookshelf at a bookstore. Well done.

Margo said...

Thanks for your kind words, Altadenahiker and Steven! Honestly, it never occurred to me that I'd be writing about what trouble I was getting into in Pasadena! :)

Petrea Burchard said...

That's the as-yet unpublished YA, right? I'm looking forward to that one. They say write what you know, right? (I also say if you don't know it you can learn it, so don't let that stop you.)

Bellis said...

If your books are as interesting to read as what you've written here, no wonder they're bestsellers. I must look out for them next time I'm in Vroman's children's book department.

Susan Campisi said...

Your books sound really fun, Margo. I don't have children but I love to buy books for my friends' kids - and I always make sure to read them first. Glad to have some local stories to add to the book list.

Margo said...

Bellis and Susan Campisi -- I definitely appreciate your enthusiasm -- and thank you! Vroman's should too! :)

Margo said...

Petrea -- I'm not sure that book will ever be published -- and if it is, it should be under a pseudonym! :) As you know, Virginia Hamilton said, "Writing is what you know, what you remember, and what you imagine," and I'm afraid too many people would think I was writing what I know, not what I imagine! :)

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Trouble in Pasadena shall be on the banned list but not Aloha for Carol Ann,

I'll bet she likes Jelly Palms, peanut butter and jelly palms.

On page 2 of Trouble in Pasadena, the city pulls out a beautiful and rare non-invasive jelly palm and hauls it off to the dump. :-(

I love children's books more every year.

Margaret said...

I'm glad to hear that you really think about grounding your work in geography. I love books in which the geography itself seems rich enough to be a character.

Petrea Burchard said...

Me too, Margaret. I love it when the landscape is part of the story.

Margo said...

Yes, geography and a sense of place can almost be a character in themselves!

Laurie said...

I think childrens books and YA books are some of the finest work in fiction these days. Recently, there was a hashtag at Twitter started by my friend YA author Libba Bray and another YA author Maureen Johnson called #YASaves. Some knucklehead at the Washington Post was trying to say that young adult fiction was too edgy and corrupting and the entire world came to the defense of those books. It was very moving, and potent proof that books heal and enlighten and transform -- especially the ones we read as kids

I'm looking forward to reading Margo's books, and sharing them with my daughter. :-)

And Petrea, this author series is exceptional. Hat tip to you, lovely one.

Margo said...

Thank you, Laurie! Libba Bray is a friend of yours -- that's awesome! I did follow that twitter hashtag after I'd read the original article in the Washington Post. Yikes! Have fun reading with your daughter!

Laurie said...

Lib and I go way back -- all the way back to college at University of Texas. She's the one who showed me the amazing work being done in contemporaty YA. Amazing literature tackling tough topics with some great, great characters. I tease her and her agent husband Barry that they need to come up with an OA -- Old Adult -- to bring the same grit and wonder to middle aged readers! :-)

Storytime at night is my favorite part of the day. I'm going to Vroman's tomorrow to add yours to our collection!

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm loving today's discussion. Thank you all.

OA! That's what I write! I've been looking for a genre label for it and Laurie, you've given it to me. I don't like the label "women's fiction" at all. Today I pitched my book to two of the male the engineers at the recording studio where I do the Stater Bros. voice-overs. They were hooked, begging me for pdf copies to read. OA is it.

Although YA isn't my main thing it is the hot thing in publishing right now. I've been following Libba on Twitter thanks to Laurie, and I was there watching on #YAsaves day, a great day.

Laurie won't mention it but I will: her photos will be shown at Charlie's in South Pasadena starting with Saturday's reception:
http://bit.ly/oqwQ8g

Laurie said...

Thanks for the promo, Petrea!

Am I right about OA? I loathe the whole Women's Fiction term, too. Chick Lit is even worse. It's not that there aren't some great books under those little, pink umbrellas. It's just that too many readers don't know about them.

I'm happy to see YA claim it's rightful place in literature. I think that the readers raised on these books are going to demand more from their fiction as they become adults and older adults. OA to the rescue!

Steven said...

I just thought of a question I wanted to ask Margo.
Were you a fan of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mystery books when you were a youth? Do you think they were well written? They are a vivid memory from my younger days.

Petrea Burchard said...

Laurie, I'm only sorry everything has to be pigeonholed into a genre just so people know where to shelve it.

Steven, I'm sure Margo will return to answer your question. In the meantime:

I want to thank Margo for joining us today and thank all who participated in the conversation. I could not enjoy the guest author posts more.

Every once in a while I like to point out that the guest author posts came from the generous suggestion of the inimitable Margaret Finnegan. Thanks, Margaret.
http://margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com/

Margo said...

Laurie, I'll have to find your photographs! Steven, yes, I did read the Nancy Drew books, but not the Hardy boys, and I did think they were well-written. They certainly kept me turning the pages! Petrea, there is a huge discussion going on right now, as Laurie pointed out, about "OA" -- and you can certainly run with that. How great the sound engineers wanted to read your work! I'll listen and watch for the Stater Brothers ads! Thank you again, Petrea, for inviting me to post -- you do a super job!

Petrea Burchard said...

It's been a pleasure, Margo. Stop by any time.