Thursday, April 18, 2013

Interview With Sarah Skilton, Author of BRUISED

Today on the blog we have a very special guest. Ms. Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, possibly the only "issue" contemporary book in recent memory that has completely enchanted me. I wrote a gushing review about it a few months ago and then immediately sat down to request an interview.

What a fantastic book, you guys. Check out the synopsis below and then dive into the interview!
When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout.

With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths.

Shelver: Hi! Welcome to Bookshelvers Anonymous, and thanks for joining us. In addition to your name, what are three things you'd like my readers to know about you?

Sarah: Thank you for having me! I'm delighted that you enjoyed Bruised and I really appreciate this interview.

Three Things to Know:

1. Just like my main character, Imogen, I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.

2. I have a weakness for pistachios.

3. I've got a second book coming out called High and Dry (Amulet Books, 2014). It's a mystery featuring a boy who plays high school soccer, and it takes place in a California desert town.

Shelver: Oooh, more sports, and this time with a mystery! Exciting!

As I've told you before, I'm not a big contemporary fan, but I adored Bruised! Such an awesome book! If you had to pitch your book first to a contemporary fan and then to a non-contemporary fan, what would you say?

Sarah: Here's my attempt at double indemnity: My goal was to write about a modern-day teenager with relateable problems (average grades; living in the shadow of her older brother; issues with family and friends) who was also "otherworldly" in the sense that she's done something most 16-year-olds haven't: earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. So, I'm hoping both contemporary fans and non-contemporary fans will find something that appeals to them in that set-up. I also thought it was worthwhile to provide readers with a glimpse of real martial arts training, as opposed to the fantasy-style superheroes everyone usually sees.

Shelver: That all makes complete sense. I personally did enjoy getting a more realistic, non-Karate Kid-ish look at martial arts.

I'm a big fan of names, and I always wonder what the decision-making process was like when it comes to naming characters. How did you name your characters? Was there any hidden meaning behind any of them? (Confession: Whenever I read Imogen's name, I saw the picture book Imogene's Antlers in my head, which made me very happy.)

Sarah: Imogen was named after the singer Imogen Heap, even though Imogen doesn't listen to that kind of music (she prefers Bloc Party). She's also named Imogen because the crux of the book is that her image of herself is shattered. Hunter's name is obvious -- he's a lady killer (albeit a nice one, which kind of makes him more dangerous, yes?) Imogen's best friend Shelly is kind of fragile, like a shell, but also strong and secure and whole, like a perfect egg. I love the look of Imogene's Antlers, by the way!

Shelver: Thanks! It's a Shelver family classic.

According to your bio, you've studied two different forms of martial arts, Tae Kwan Do and Hap Ki Do. I think most of us have heard of the first, but what exactly is the difference between the two?

Sarah: Roughly translated, Tae Kwon Do means "the way of foot and hand" (i.e. kicking and punching). At my school, we studied traditional TKD twice a week, and Hap Ki Do twice a week, with Fridays reserved for sparring class. Hap Ki Do included joint locks and "weapons" like wooden swords and nunchuks, as well as tumbling. I also recall learning pressure points during the Hap Ki Do days. There's a particular part of the wrist that hurts like crazy when it's flicked. In fact, some of the HKD techniques were easier for women to use, because having smaller fingers was a benefit for precise wrist flicks, etc.

Shelver: If you landed in the same situation as Imogen [being trapped in a robbery scenario with a crazed gunman], what do you think you would do?

Sarah: I would run or hide, because that's the best chance of getting out alive. I'd like to think I could prevent deaths if possible, but I don't KNOW that I could. I don't believe any of us know what we'd do until we're in a situation.

Shelver: Last question. I'm trying to keep this short, but I just have to know. Your husband's a magician (which is AWESOME). Can you do any magic tricks?

Sarah: Not even "where's your thumb?" for my toddler, haha. Sadly, I'm not the best audience anymore because I've seen so much magic from Joe's shows and his friends' shows that I have theories about how tricks are done, whereas before I was 100% mesmerized and flummoxed. I'm not saying my theories are correct, but I have them. :)


Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! As for the rest of you, what are you waiting for? Find Bruised at your local bookstore or library to learn more about Imogen and her story. Also, you can learn more about Ms. Skilton at her website or follow her on Twitter

Ms. Sarah's very nice, as you can see, so be sure to say hi. I also have a few brand-spankin' new Bruised bookmarks beggin' to be given away, so I'll give some away to the first five commenters to say they want one.