Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Going Overboard With This Author

Today, I interviewed Sascha Zuger, author of the young adult novel "Girl Overboard." She talked to me about using a pen name for this genre and why she does it.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I spent ten years sailing around the tropical world as a dolphin trainer and PADI divemaster, before pursuing my current love of writing and being mom to a four-year-old-extraterrestrial, er, boy. Besides working on my novels, I am a freelance journalist writing for a number of national magazines andnewspapers and public radio commentator for NPR-affiliate KWMU.
Tell us about your new book.
"Girl Overboard" is about an American teen who goes for a Caribbean semester at sea to learn about marine biology. She works with dolphins, transplants seaturtle eggs, and swims with 40-foot whale sharks while sorting out some big life decisions. Avoiding the attentions of a cocky, but endearing, Aussie whitewater raft guide on board and salvaging her relationship with a longtime boyfriend left behind inVermont kind of add to the fun.
You use the pen name Aimee Ferris, why?
I'm also working on a women's fiction project as well as several works for younger children and wanted some separation between genres. All of my magazine work and essays are done under my real name.
What advice would you give to writers about pennames?
Be careful what you pick, which I would elaborate on, but due to my dopiness in picking, can't. (How's that for mysterious?)
What are the challenges of writing to the young adult audience?
I think it is important to make it fun without dumbing it down. Another challenge is the fact that a lot of kids "read up." I've gotten some really wonderful letters from readers 11-34, so writing in an appropriate way that keeps the attention of a widerange can be a challenge.
How do you market your books, is there any specialmarketing, such as MySpace pages to target your audience?
I have a blog http://aimee-ferris.livejournal.com/,which will feature interviews with women in the marine science field (starting next week with real life sharkgirl- Toby Engel). Other than that, my email is listed on the jacket and I respond to all the letters Ireceive. I was also blessed by the cover gods and the talented illustrator/cover designer team nailed the book's tone.
How did you find your agent/publisher?
I was fortunate to be offered representation by several agents so I had the freedom to make sure I picked the best fit for what I wanted to achieve. I'd lived all over the world so when I heard Angelle Pilkington was interested in authentic stories about other cultures, it seemed like a perfect match. I sent the basic storyline which Penguin Speak really liked- it all happened very fast.
Why the young adult genre, what about it fascinates you? It's such a great time of change and a whole world of possibilities opens up around that age. I think I like the idea of a "choose your own adventure" time of life.
What other kinds of writing do you do?
I write humorous personal essays, travel features,radio commentaries, nonfiction for young children, picture books to midgrade novels, general interest pieces for a dozen or so national mags and newspapers. I am almost finished with my grown up novel, my agent is currently shopping my next YA novel and I have a weekly column profiling green businesses for Plenty Magazine's website. I don't sleep much.
What's next for you?
After reading through the above - a nap.


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