JANIS JOPLIN: RISE UP SINGING won the 2011 Crystal Kite Award for the Minnesota/Iowa/
Indiana/Ohio region. (Yay Midwest!) To learn more about today's award-winning author, visit her website, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.
Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.
I’ve always had a major fan crush on Janis Joplin. She was my role model for independence and creative spirit, and her death was my cautionary tale. JANIS JOPLIN: RISE UP SINGING is the biography that came out of her significance both personally and culturally. Writing Janis's story and then gathering images and photos was the most amazing trip back to my teens and, although revisiting Janis's death was incredibly tough, I loved this project.
How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?
To be recognized by my peers for taking on the difficult topic of Janis’s life is truly an honor. They’re telling me that I made the right choice to talk about Janis, flaws and all, and that there’s a necessary place for stories like Janis’s in the teen world. Her story is important and Janis can become another generation’s role model and cautionary tale.
How long have you been a member of SCBWI and to what degree are you involved? How has your SCBWI membership been helpful to your career?
I think I became a member of SCBWI in 1989 or thereabout. I’ve always been active in the Wisconsin region, joining a writers’ group with fellow members and volunteering to do manuscript critiques for a number of retreats. In 1999, I took over as the Regional Advisor and used my role to create professional development and skill-building opportunities at our retreats. When I turned that over to our current
RA, I continued to offer breakout sessions on craft and also volunteer to critique manuscripts. I’ve also conducted online novel revision workshops for my region.
I learned a long time ago that working with other writers will grow my own writing ability. SCBWI kept me writing and also was the catalyst to get me to consider an MFA, which I received from Vermont College. Becoming an RA was a way to give back to SCBWI but I’ve learned the more I give, the more I get.
What will we see from you next?
I always work on young adult fiction and nonfiction projects simultaneously. So I’m not sure which big project will come out next.
I have a short story called "The Bracelet" in an upcoming anthology from Persea Books called SUDDEN FLASH YOUTH. It will include flash fiction by Alice Walker, Julia Alverez, David Eggers, Meg Kearney and Pamela Painter.