Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Interview: Bonnie J. Doerr

Thanks to Leap Books, I was able to interview author Bonnie J. Doerr. 

Bonnie J. Doerr has always played with words, ideas, and nature. To be separated from nature—to be containerized—would slowly suck the breath from her. For years this therapeutic pursuit manifested itself in poetry.  In recent years her play resulted in stories and novels for young adults. A lifetime educator, she has taught students from kindergarten to college in eight states. Degrees in reading education, combined with a brief post as a science teacher, led her to write ecological mysteries. Years of teaching and living in the Florida Keys provided irresistible material. Her novels celebrate caring, involved, “green” teens who take action with attitude and a touch of romance. Her work has been honored by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) with a grant for its use in environmental education and has been included in Milkweed Editions literary field guides. When not at home with her heart in the Florida Keys, she lives in a log cabin in North Carolina. 
(Bio taken from Doerr's website. For more information, click here.)

Doerr is the author of the new YA novel Island Sting, among other books. Here is a short synopsis of her newest book:

"Kenzie Ryan's New York know-how and private girls' academy education prove useless in the middle of an island wildlife refuge. Upon arrival in the exotic Florida Keys, she is thrown into the midst of an ecological mystery involving the endangered Florida Key deer. How can she navigate this upside down world? A world deftly maneuvered by Angelo--island native and nerve-wracking hunk. The two team up to accomplish what perplexes law enforcement, but Angelo exposes Kenzie's insecurities, as well as her inexperience with nature and the opposite sex. Danger and disagreement follow the pair wherever they go. Enamored with Angelo and his local savvy, Kenzie hopes to secure his loyal friendship. But how can she win Angelo's trust when what she must tell him will crush his ego?"

Amber: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Doerr: I think it was on my sixteenth birthday. My boyfriend stood me up and my reaction was colorfulliy creative. Didn't want to go to jail, so I wrote it down on the page. Let me rephrase that. Smeared it all over about a thousand pages.

Amber: How long does it take you to write a book?
Doerr: Including batting around ideas, research, fighting with my alter egos, refereeing the characters as they fight for stardom, and slowly tapping keys on the computer, I'd say a year to reach the first draft. Then there's the endless editing. But, as many of the preliminary enemies rear their ugly heads again, I'd rather not say how long that can take.

Amber: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Doerr: I keep a huge jar of chunky peanut butter and a spoon at the ready. Not to nourish my creativity, but to lob at buzzkillers.

Amber: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Doerr: Sometimes it seems animal spirits visit me at night. Perhaps I was a Native American in a former life.  

Amber: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Doerr: Cook while I dream of wandering the countryside of Ireland or Italy followed by taking a train across Europe to step off and on with no particular agenda. I'm afraid my meals often turn out to be unidentifiable concoctions.

Amber: What does your family think of your writing?
Doerr: I don't ask. My family loves me. They're not going to tell me the truth.

Amber: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Doerr: Did you know that deer chew like cows and run a bit like rabbits?

Amber: Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
Doerr: Switch pens often? Be sure to backup your computer? Really, I don't feel qualified to offer advice or suggestions...

Amber: What do you think makes a good story?
Doerr: It's all in the mind of the reader. But a good story has depth and layers. Deep as the ocean. Layered like a delicious chocolate cake.

Amber: Do you think that you will continue to write books? If so, what genres are you interested in writing?
Doerr: I will write as long as readers enjoy my tales and publishers are willing to take a risk on someone who has never been in People Magazine or on Oprah.  far as genres, for now I'm sticking to YA mysteries with a touch of danger and romance.

Hope you guys enjoyed learning about Bonnie Doerr! Be sure to check out her new book, Island Sting, and visit Class of 2K10 for more information. 


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

great interview...this sounds fun!

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

I enjoyed your interview. You are right--you don't bite much. Thanks for asking about Island Sting and telling your readers what's to come.