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Monday, December 20, 2010

Author Interview: April Lindner

This picture is referenced in the interview,
but it was so awesome I had to head the post with it.
I'm very excited to start the week with such an awesome interview! Today, we're being joined by April Lindner, author of Jane. April is also an Associate Professor of English at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA and a poet. Here are some fun facts about her from her website:
I was born in North Merrick, NY, and though I've lived many places since then, I will always be a New Yorker at heart.
I've been writing stories and poems ever since I could hold a pen.
I started out majoring in art but soon realized my talents lay elsewhere. But I'm still a champion doodler.
My sister is a roller derby queen and one of my best friends.
I'm the mother of two teenage sons. My older son, Eli St. Amant, is a member of the hot new rave rap band Split Genetics.
My younger son Noah is pretty great too, and after several summers at zoo camp is an experienced handler of rabbits and hedgehogs. He hopes to graduate to owls.
I teach creative writing, freshman composition, and literature at St. Joe's.
In August, I was Hot Blogger of the Month at agent Bree Ogden's This Literary Life Blog.
In high school I wrote a rock opera about the tragic love between punk rocker Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungeon.
You can read more fun stuff about April on her website and in the amazing interview below!

Jane1. Jane is a modern retelling of the classic Jane Eyre. (as you know!) What inspired you to revamp the story?

I love retellings, and Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite novel. For years I’ve wanted to combine the two things and write a retelling of Jane Eyre, but I couldn’t figure out a modern equivalent for the class difference that stands between Jane and Mr. Rochester. When it occurred to me that Mr. Rochester could be a rock star, I realized I was on to something, and I started writing the next morning.

2. What is next for you? Can we hope for more of Jane and Mr. Rathburn's story?

Wuthering HeightsI haven’t ruled out a sequel to Jane, but for now I’m working on a modernization of Wuthering Heights, my other favorite novel. The novel is set in a nightclub on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Catherine is the nightclub owner’s daughter, and the Heathcliff character is a hungry punk rocker.

3. What surprised you the most about the publishing process?

I don’t know if this counts as “process,” but I’ve been amazed to discover the community of enthusiastic book bloggers who are out there hungrily reading and reviewing stacks and stacks of books. You hear all the time that nobody reads anymore, but that turns out not to be true at all.

Jane Eyre4. What is your favorite literary work of all time and why?

Oh, Jane Eyre, without doubt. It has everything—romance, mystery, social analysis, insightful character development and gorgeous prose.

5. Jane gets optioned for a movie. Who is your dream cast?

I could see that...
"Come to Haiti with me." Yes sir!
I picture Jane being played by some wonderful newcomer I haven’t heard of yet, but if I have to pick someone already making movies, I’d choose Carey Mulligan. Maybe James Franco could play Nico? I think he can do just about anything. James McAvoy would be fantastic too, though he’d need smoke-gray contact lenses. I can imagine Idina Menzel playing Bianca Ingram, the celebrity photojournalist who has her eye on Nico. And Alex Pettyfer would be great as River St. John, Nico’s chief competition for Jane’s heart.

6. How much of your characters is a reflection of yourself or someone you know?

I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was a sophomore in high school and I wanted to be like her—romantic but level headed, and true to her values. As a young woman I sometimes even made a point of trying to be like her, so it might be more accurate to say that I’m a reflection of Jane Eyre. However, some of my own character did creep into Jane Moore. I’m pretty shy, though I work hard to hide it, and Jane wound up sharing that trait.

Reader Questions:

1. From Stacy: I would be interested to know about your writing techniques - how extensively you outline/plan out your books and what your writing schedule is like.
When writing Jane, I stuck pretty closely to the original plot, so I went into the project with a strong sense of where I wanted the story to go. The novel I’m working on now is a much looser interpretation of an existing novel. I wrote the first draft with only the roughest of outlines to see where it would take me, but then I had to go back in and make a detailed outline and rewrite accordingly. The novel involves two interwoven storylines, and I had to outline in detail to make sure they fit neatly together.

Jane Eyre (Optimized for Kindle)As for my schedule, when I’m not teaching, I try to write from nine until three, when my kids get home. I don’t dare write on mornings when I have to teach or grade because I get so wrapped up in my imaginary world I might lose my way back.

2. From Cici: Do you feel any deep personal connection to any of your characters? If so, what connects you to the character?
Apart from my connection to Jane herself, I feel most attached to the characters who were kind to Jane when she was in need of human connection. I’m particularly fond of Yvonne and Kitty, the significant others of Nico’s band members, and Diana, who rescues Jane from homelessness and becomes her best friend. Yvonne and Kitty surprised me; I meant for them to be snobs like Mr. Rochester’s retinue of friends in Jane Eyre, but as I was putting them on the page they thwarted my intentions by taking Jane under their wing and being truly sweet to her.
Darkness on the Edge of Town

3. From Jacque: Do you have a personal connection w/ a rock star?
I’m an out-of-control Bruce Springsteen fan; when he’s on tour I attend multiple shows and stand in line for hours for the chance to get close to the stage. There are many other musicians and bands I enjoy, but my love of Bruce knows no bounds.

4. From Vivien: Did you have to do any research for your book?
A little, but I mostly chose situations and settings I was familiar with. I didn't research the daily life of a rock star as much as I fantasized about what it must be like—how he would spend his days and what sorts of people would pass through his home.

Quick Picks:
On Beauty1. Best book you've read this year? On Beauty by Zadie Smith (a modernization of E. M. Forster’s Howards End.)

2. Best movie you've seen this year? The Kids Are All Right.

3. Favorite place you've traveled to recently? I spent a month last summer in Greece, teaching creative writing on a study tour. With its steep cliffs, white buildings and deep blue sea, Santorini has to be the most beautiful spot on the planet.

The Kids Are All Right4. Best new food you've tried? It would have to be one of the many dishes I tried in Greece. Stuffed eggplant doesn’t sound all that glamorous, but the one I had on Santorini was astoundingly good.

5. Last thing you made with your hands? (besides the books you've written of course!) The chicken cacciatore I cooked the other night.

6. Biggest risk you've taken this year? I rode a mule up a cliff in Santorini, and I can supply the picture to prove it! (the picture at the top of the post is the proof!) I’m terrified of heights and there were moments when the mule was right up against a little stone wall between the footpath and a very steep plummet into the sea. I shrieked with laughter and terror the whole way up, but I was proud of myself for not chickening out.

7. Favorite non-writing activity? Listening to live music with friends.

Thanks again to April for the amazing interview! Be sure to pick up Jane from Amazon below. You can also check out the Jane Facebook page, April's Facebook page and her website.

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