Saturday, February 28, 2015

0 Cecil Castellucci, author of STONE IN THE SKY, on interviewing an astronaut

What was your inspiration for writing STONE IN THE SKY?

STONE IN THE SKY is the sequel to TIN STAR which was very loosely inspired by the film Casablanca.  For Stone, I wanted it to have a western kind of True grit / gold rush of 1849 feel.  So look to any western.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

A really hard scene for me to write I can't really talk about it, because it's a spoiler.  But it basically really shows you how horrible Brother Blue is.  I think when you are writing about the results of someone's evil, it's hard to write.  That darkness does not sit well with me, but as writers we must push through the darkness to get back to the light.  I also wrote a scene that takes place during a spacewalk.  I actually got to interview astronaut Rick Mastracchio, who is a space walking expert, about what that's like.  That was pretty cool, to get little details from a person who has actually walked in space.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I would say to check out John Christopher's The Tripod Trilogy.  That has always been a touchstone for me.  And the aliens in there are very alien, even if it's an earth based story.  I would also say that Deep Space Nine or Babylon Five are probably good watch alikes.

What do you hope readers will take away from STONE IN THE SKY?

I wanted it to be the story about a girl who sheds her humanity in order to survive and then rediscovers it.  So I hope that a reader thinks about what it means to be human.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I always say that it's about a ten year waiting list to be an artist of any kind.  You have to get in line, do your work, and do more work.  For me, it took about 7 years from the time I got serious about writing before I sold my first book.  That book was BOY PROOF, it's about a girl who is obsessed with a post apocalyptic film and dresses as the main character to go to school every day and how that affects her relationships when a new kid comes to school.  I wrote three full books before I sold that one.  And it came out two years after I sold it.  So, almost 10 years.  I say, just keep writing and putting stuff out there.  It's a marathon.  It's a long road.  And once you do get published, there are more roads to keep walking on.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I make a play list for every book that I write.  It's a bunch of songs that jump me straight into the vibe and emotional tone of the novel.  Here is the one I had for TIN STAR I work at home and at coffee shops depending on where I am at in the process.  Sometimes I need to hole up in my house like a mad woman.  Become a troll, emerge a fairy.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Don't be afraid of making your work better by listening to good notes.  Anything that you have to cut you can always put in another project.  Nothing is ever wasted.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a draft of a middle grade novel.  We'll see!  It's my first!  Always experimenting, that's my motto.


Stone in the Sky
by Cecil Castellucci
Roaring Brook Press
Released 2/24/2015

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.

After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star CafĂ© on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.

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Cecil Castellucci 2014 web_res-9382Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star and Odd Duck. Her picture book, Grandma’s Gloves, won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN,, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles.

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