I first heard of Pat Brisson’s newest book, THE BEST AND HARDEST THING, a YA novel-in-verse, from The Compulsive Reader. As I’m actively looking for books to read for my Verse Novel Challenge (and know some of you are, too), I thought I’d find out more.
Can you tell us about THE BEST AND HARDEST THING?
The Best and Hardest Thing is a novel- in-verse about Molly, 15-year-old sophomore who gives herself a makeover, after being described as “saintly” by a classmate, and sets out to attract the attention of senior Grady Dillon, a new guy in school. She winds up pregnant with very difficult decisions to make.
What inspired you to write this story?
I’m in a writers group with novelists and wanted to try my hand at one, too. As to the subject matter – some years back I was in a mentoring program at our local high school and was matched with a girl who’d had a baby when she was 14. That got me thinking about the situation and made me wonder what it would be like to go through an experience like that.
Why did you decide to write this story as a novel-in-verse?
As a picture book writer I was used to “writing short”, and couldn’t imagine how novelists hold so many characters, scenes, themes, etc in their heads for the duration of writing a book. I decided that a novel-in-verse was the way to go since it seemed like a lot of “writing short”.
You have written numerous picture books and early readers. What has it been like to step into the world of young adult literature?
It’s been exciting and challenging. I’m still trying to figure out how to reach out to that audience in ways other than the book, so I appreciate the chance to do this interview.
And I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity, as well! What books have shaped you as a reader and writer, from childhood to the present?
Oh, my! I didn’t have many books as a child but I loved the Eloise books (and named the little sister in Bertie’s Picture Day and Hot Fudge Hero in her honor). I wasn’t much of a reader in elementary school or high school. I was an English major in college, but mostly read what was required, which was quite a bit but not of my own choosing.
It wasn’t until I had children of my own and began to read picture books to them that I fell in love with books and decided I wanted to try to write them. So I was definitely influenced by all the many, many picture books I read all those years when my four sons were young. By then I’d gotten a job in my local library and was becoming an avid reader (of things other than picture books), since I was surrounded by so many good books. Then I went back to school and became a librarian so books became a very big part of my life and of course I was trying to write my own as well. But I must say that picture books have had the biggest influence on me.
What is one thing people misunderstand about children’s literature?
That it’s easy to write and only a stepping stone to writing “real” books (meaning for adults). That’s two things, isn’t it? Take your pick.
I wholeheartedly agree with both of these. Are you working on anything new?
Another YA about a girl who’s abused by her mother’s boyfriend.
Oh, and one more thing. I included a Chatty Glossary in my manuscript, but my publisher decided against including it in the book. So, if you want to know more about the poetry forms I used and why I chose that particular form for that particular poem, be sure to check out the Chatty Glossary that’s on my website – www.patbrisson.com. It’s like a behind-the-scenes author talk or one of those extras that comes on the DVD for a movie.
Thank you, Pat, for the wonderful interview. I look forward to reading your work.