Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Hurricane Boy" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Laura Roach Dragon

In the Mid-South division, there was a tie for the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

Courtney Stevens for "Faking Normal" and SCBWI Louisiana/Mississippi member Laura Roach Dragon for "Hurricane Boy!"

This week we'll focus on Laura and her Crystal Kite-winning book...

Author Laura Roach Dragon

Lee: Congratulations on “Hurricane Boy" winning this year’s Crystal Kite award - in a tie! How exciting!

Laura: I feel very grateful. 

Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Laura: Over 5000 children were separated in the disorganized rescues along the Gulf Coast after Katrina hit. In this coming-of-age story, Hollis Williams matures in the traumatic events of Hurricane Katrina. Living with his siblings and his grandmother, Hollis's greatest wish has always been to reconnect with his absent father. Through the turmoil of the storm and the ensuing tests of his determination, Hollis keeps this dream alive. Their home destroyed, Hollis and his younger siblings are taken to a shelter in West Virginia, where he discovers what family means and finds his own inner strength. 

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?

Laura: Since mid-2007. SCBWI LA/MS RULES. What have I gained? Everything. How to focus, how to show not tell, how to write tight, how to finish the book, how to structure a book, who to send it to, how to send it out, what people mean when they say they got a "great rejection" and tons and tons of friends who root for you and celebrate with you when you get whatever you get. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Laura: Don't be afraid of a negative critique. People who care enough to tell you what's wrong with your manuscript are people you need to have in your circle. I'm not referring to people who tear up things just to tear them up, but people who help you see what might improve your work.

Thanks, Laura!

I also connected with Cheryl Mathis, Regional Advisor for SCBWI Louisiana/Mississippi to find out more about Laura's win and their region. Here's what she wrote:

Laura has been a member of the Louisiana/Mississippi region for many years. I distinctly remember her very first meeting because it was also mine. She read from her work-in-progress that became the novel Hurricane Boy. After that first meeting, Laura often read at our monthly gatherings, which always end with an open critique. One of the highlights from those readings was the passage where the flood waters rip through the home of her protagonist and his family. As Laura's reading ended with the last family member clambering into the attic, the rising water lapping at his heels, the listening members broke into applause. The reaction of her listeners was a portent to the eventual publication and success of the novel and now the awarding of the prestigious Crystal Kite. Louisiana/Mississippi is awash with pride.

You can find out more about Laura here.

Curious to find out more about SCBWI Louisiana/Mississippi? Click here.

And congratulations again to Laura, for "Hurricane Boy" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

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