Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SCBWI Blogger Interviews: 10 Questions for P.J. Hoover

Ms. Hoover is a Faculty Member of the Austin SCBWI 2014 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference occurring February 8-9, 2014.

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice (Tor Teen, June 2013), takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade novel, Tut (Tor Children's, 2014), tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who's been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat. P. J. is also a member of the TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website.


Why choose the Persephone myth as the inspiration for Solstice? Greek and Roman mythology have so many stories to choose from, what made you decide on that one in particular?

I love taking the myths and twisting them, and the story of Persephone and Hades was always one of my favorites. I thought it would be fascinating to ask "What if Persephone wanted to go to the Underworld?"

TUT is scheduled for release in 2014 and follows the adventures of an immortal 14-year-old King Tut, perpetually stuck in 8th Grade and hiding from his evil Uncle Horemheb.  What kind of research went into developing this story? What was it like getting into the brain of an immortal adolescent boy?

I would have loved to travel to Egypt, but sadly that didn't happen. What did happen is plenty of fun research in Washington, D.C., where the bulk of the book is set. I dragged my mom and kids to all the museums, to the top of the Washington Monument, to Chinatown, to Arlington Cemetery. It was so much fun! We also hopped in the car and went to Philadelphia to see the King Tut exhibit.

As for the brain of the adolescent boy, it was actually a blast! I have a middle-school-age son, and watching him go through middle school is so much more fun than when I went through it myself :)

There is a trend in Hollywood of adapting YA novels into movies; would you want Solstice made into a film? If so, who would your dream cast include? If not, which YA book-to-movie are you most looking forward to in 2014?

I would *love* Solstice to be made into a movie! As for a dream cast, I have no idea! I'm horrible about knowing who any actors are anymore. I kind of lost track at the turn of the century. As for what I'm looking forward to, I'm excited to see Divergent and The Maze Runner!

In Solstice Piper's mother is very controlling and manipulative. Piper struggles with loving her mother and being frustrated by her constant need to know where Piper is and what she is doing; a position that many teens may identify with.  What advice do you have for teens who are living under a dictatorial parent?

The advice I'd give is to recognize that having a parent who cares is way better than the alternate. They love you and want to keep you safe. Also learn bargaining skills. Spontaneous acts of goodwill will get you far in life. And finally, realize that you aren't the only one.

Your website bio lists Edith Hamilton's Mythology as the beginning of your fascination with mythology. Which mythological character is most like you?  Why?

I'll go with Athena, mostly because I always wanted to be her. I even had license plates back in college that said, "Athena J" on them!

What are your tricks for getting past "writer's block"?

I'm not a believer in writer's block. Sure, some days the words do not flow very easily. But those are the days it is most important to force yourself to sit your butt in the chair (BIC) and write, even if it's just a small bit.

Some authors need specific tools/music/environment to write.  What do you need, if anything, to get in the writing zone?

Coffee sure helps, as does silence. I'm not much for music, unless I'm out somewhere writing, like a coffee shop. Having writing friends around helps keep me accountable. What I don't need to get into the writing zone is Internet! It's a horrible distraction :)

If you could have any superpower, which would you choose? Why?

I'd love to be able to teleport because being able to travel quickly would make it so nice to visit family and friends who are far away!

*Mini bio courtesy of P.J. Hoover's website