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.
Adventures in Children's Publishing says
Thanks for the interview! I can very much relate to Pat saying that as a picture book writer, a novel seems insurmountable. A novel in prose is a great concept for bridging that gap. Thanks for the post!
Natalie Aguirre says
Thanks for the great interview. Your book sounds wonderful. That’s great you’ve become a librarian. I often wished I had chosen to study that in college.
Mrs. DeRaps says
I can’t wait to read this book–Even more now that I’ve read your interview. Sounds awesome!
Solvang Sherrie says
Great interview! I hadn’t heard of this book but I’m curious now. And I totally agree that people don’t realize how hard it is to write books for kids. Unless you’re Tyra Banks or Madonna…
I hope verse novel keep increasing in popularity. It’s a neat form. One that I like. Sounds like a great topic to write in verse.
Lydia Kang says
Thanks for the interview. THe book sounds wonderful. I’ve never read a novel in verse, but this is one I’d try!
Jemi Fraser says
Great post – totally agree about the misconceptions some folks have about writing books for kids!
M. Gray says
I just read your interview of “How I got an agent” on Guide to Literary Agents. WOW! What a story! Way to stick with it and I’m so impressed so many agents were interested in your work. Go Caroline. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!
Great interview. Thanks to both of you! It sounds like an interesting book and I love that you jumped into verse novels because it was like “writing short”.
And Caroline, I just read your interview on the GLA blog. Thanks so much for sharing! I’d read some of it on here before, but wow! Hearing your perservance again there just made me admire you all the more! Congrats (again and again)!
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Christina Farley says
Great interview! I love hearing other people’s stories about how they find success,
Pat Zietlow Miller says
I love your picture books — especially Wanda’s Roses. Looking forward to reading your novel in verse.