Friday, May 20, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week: Kate Messner, SUGAR AND ICE

Today's winner interview is with Kate Messner, whose book SUGAR AND ICE won the 2011 Crystal Kite Award for the New York region. To learn more about today's award-winning author, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.

To be honest, the inspiration for SUGAR AND ICE came while I was supposed to be revising my first novel, THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. My daughter was signed up for a figure skating day camp at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Neither she nor I realized how serious some of the attendees would be about skating, and I’d been planning to work on my revision while she skated. However, it turned out that when I signed her up for camp, I’d also signed myself up for a figure skating parent education program. (This is why you should always read the fine print.)

I spent two days listening to a parade of experts talk about everything from thousand dollar blades to sewing sequins. One of the speakers was a sports psychologist who talked about how she works with skaters to make sure the competitive nature of the sport doesn’t become unhealthy, and she got me thinking. What a great world this would be for a novel! I started taking notes and brainstorming for SUGAR AND ICE that day, and the book came out two and a half years later. It’s about a figure skater from a small-town maple farm who earns a scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid, but when she starts training, she realizes that her sweet dream-come-true has some more sharp edges than she could have imagined.

How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?

This award just means the world to me. I know how hard SCBWI members work on craft, and when you’re serious about writing, you pay attention to craft in every book you read. The fact that my colleagues chose SUGAR AND ICE as a book that they’d hold up for this honor is absolutely overwhelming. I’m humbled, delighted, and grateful.

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’ve been a member of SCBWI almost 10 years and have enjoyed a number of regional conferences, first as an attendee and later as a member of the faculty.

I think SCBWI--or really any vehicle for bringing writers together to share ideas on craft and support one another--is incredibly valuable. Some of the people I met at my very first SCBWI conference have become close friends.

What will we see from your next?

This is a busy spring for me--May 1st brought the release of MARTY MCGUIRE, the first in my new chapter book series with Scholastic. My first picture book, SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY, is coming out with Chronicle. And I’ve also written a book for teachers and writers called REAL REVISION: AUTHORS’ STRATEGIES TO SHARE WITH STUDENT WRITERS. It pulls back the curtain on the revision processes of more than 40 published authors and provides dozens of manageable revision strategies for writers of all ages to use with pieces of their own.


Kristine Asselin said...

I had the chance to read an ARC of SUGAR AND ICE back in the fall. It's such a wonderful book, and very worthy of the honor. And Kate is truly a lovely person--it's so nice when nice, talented people win things!

Anonymous said...

I love reading these interviews. Congrats to Kate.

Carol Baldwin said...

Enjoyed the story behind the story. What a way to use your true-life experience and then build on it. COngratulations, Kate!

Ms. Yingling said...

Picked up a SECOND copy of Sugar and Ice for my library, and they are both out! Looking forward to more. Maybe girls' volleyball?