Julie Ann Knudsen - Teenagers on a Tiny Island
When Julie Ann Knudsen took a stab at writing a novel for the first time, she had no idea that this was going to be the beginning of a successful YA series. In the Middle of Nowhere also brought back memories of her own teenage years and what a angst-filled, exciting time it could be. As our Author of the Day, Knudsen chats about the inspiration behind this book, reveals why she thinks Willow and Michael make such a good match and why she sent them to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.
Please give us a short introduction to what In the Middle of Nowhere is about.
Fifteen-year-old Willow Flynn feels butterflies in the pit of her stomach whenever the mysterious boy is near. But first, she must deal with being uprooted to an island, far away, in the middle of nowhere. Will the boy be able to win her heart, especially when his own existence remains so uncertain?
Was there anything in particular, an incident or something you read, that made you want to tackle this?
There was nothing in particular that made me want to tackle this other than having two teens, as well as one tween, under one roof, when deciding what to write about.
What inspired you to write the book from the perspective of a 15-year old?
I wrote from the perspective of a 15-year-old because I was able to go back in my head, and heart, and remember what an exciting, yet angst-filled time those years could be.
Why do you think do Willow and Michael make such a good match?
I think Michael and Willow make such a good match because both are dealing with extraordinary circumstances, while trying to fit in and find their places within the world.
Both Willow and Michael have difficult issues to deal with. Why did you put your characters through these difficult times?
I think most people, including teenagers, have obstacles to overcome at some point in their lives; Willow’s is the death of a parent, while Michael’s is fighting a debilitating disease.
Some readers were not impressed with the poor choices Willow made at times. Why did you take this approach?
I took this approach because it’s real. Having raised three teenagers and having been one myself, I know that most teenagers make poor choices. I think it’s the rare occasion that a young person does not make a mistake or two, or three, or more, but, hopefully, in the end, they learn from them.
Besides writing, what other cool skills do you have?
I love dabbling in photography.
How do you go about creating such relatable characters? Are any of them inspired by people in real life?
My characters were not inspired by anyone in particular, just average teenagers, which makes them so relatable!
Why did you pick a tiny island as the backdrop of your story?
When my oldest daughter was in high school, one her best friends moved to a tiny island off the coast of Maine. I was astounded when my daughter told me that her friend had to take a ferry boat to and from school every day, even in the middle of winter. I was intrigued with this unusual way of life, so it became the backdrop for the story.
Did you know from the start that this was going to be a series?
I had never intended to write a series. I had only planned on penning one Young Adult novel. However, many of my readers expressed their desire for a second story, so a sequel followed, as well as a third and final book.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?
While I don't have any interesting writing habits, I sometimes find myself staring out the floor to ceiling glass French doors, which sit behind my desk whenever I have writer's block. I try to imagine what the character's next step might be as I watch New England's seasons unfold before me.
Do you have a favorite line from the book, and can you explain what that line means to you?
My favorite line is what Michael says to Willow. “We are all dying, aren’t we, Willow, from the very moment we are born?”
This line is powerful to me because of its truth. None of us knows how long we have to live.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just started working on a women’s fiction novel, which is a real departure from the YA world.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I am not a big user of social media, but readers can always check out my website (julieannknudsen.com) for updates on any new work or email me at [email protected]. I respond to all my emails.