Monday, July 9, 2012

Adrian Fogelin Chats About SUMMER ON THE MOON

When a mutual friend sent me a copy of Adrian Fogelin's SUMMER ON THE MOON with the note "you must read this!" I did. And I was delighted that I did. SUMMER is a rich story of growing up in difficult circumstances, and has an authentic "boy" voice that is a marvel of craft in a rich, layered story. I had to invite Adrian to appear on my blog. Little did I know that she is not only a talented author but a songwriter with a band! Here is our interview:

Hi Adrian! Can you summarize SUMMER ON THE MOON for readers?

Sure—although writing a summary of a book has got to be harder than writing the book itself, but here goes!
Socko and his best friend Damien have just finished their last day at school and are looking forward to a boring summer in their hot inner-city apartment building where the local gang, the Tarantulas, will probably add the only excitement they can look forward to—and not the good kind—when Socko gets an unexpected get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of an offer from a great grandfather he's never met. The General, as he likes to be called, will buy a house for Socko and his mom if they keep him out of a nursing home.
Socko's mother, Delia, quickly takes the old man up on the offer and selects a house in an only partially-built housing development. What she doesn't know is that the subdivision is going bankrupt and that they are the only ones who have purchased a house in Moon Ridge Estates.
At first it seems that Socko’s summer will be spent keeping  his cranky great-grandfather company while Delia goes to work, but as he explores the wasteland that is his new neighborhood he begins to claim the territory as his own, just the way the Tarantulas claimed the old one. He turns the empty community pool into his own personal skate park and walks the beams of half-built houses.
But always at the back of his mind is the unfinished business in his old neighborhood—how can he save the best friend he left behind from being engulfed by the gang?
This book ends with a splash. Socko, who is now the guy who knows the territory, tricks Rapp, the gang leader, into putting his Trans Am in the swimming pool (now full) after a chase through the empty streets of Moon Ridge. When Rapp doesn't get out of the car Socko has to decide whether to save his worst nightmare or let Rapp drown.

A most excellent summary. Do you write from personal experience?

There is always some of my own life experience in my books. In the case of Summer on the Moon, the setting was familiar. I grew up in a brand-new subdivision a lot like Moon Ridge Estates. The only trees were planted by the developer, one on either side of the driveway. Each cast a shadow as thin as a pencil. The water for the subdivision was still a work in progress. Some days it was pink, some days blue. Standing behind my house at one end of the block I could see the houses at the other end with nothing green in between.
But personal experience played a smaller role in this book than usual. Summer on the Moon was built around a shared experience: the economic recession. Socko’s neighbors in the apartment building are all losing their jobs, in the new neighborhood he finds a homeless family squatting in one of the unsold houses. The recession affects everyone in the book, just as it has affected many of the readers I hope will pick up this book.  I wanted young readers to see their own hard times in a story and maybe open the topic for discussion.

I love the General. Please talk about how his character came to be.

The General is a member of the generation that fought in WWII—my dad’s generation. Tough and practical, they survived the Great Depression, fought in a global war (often in their teens), went to college on the GI Bill and raised families. Those that remain are in their eighties and, like the General  who is about to be surplused to a nursing home, are often dismissed for being old, cranky and irrelevant—or as Delia observed “past their pull date.”  
Before they fade into history I wanted to portray the grit and wisdom of what Tom Brokaw labeled “greatest generation,” so I created the General.

You’ve written a number of highly acclaimed books (CROSSING FORDANANNA CASEY'S PLACE IN THE WORLD). What is your process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write every day?

Pantser?  I love it! The term I’ve coined for my method is “blurter,” and yes , the seat of my pants is always involved. I have come to trust the process, even though I sometimes have no idea where I am going when I write page one. Scenes, like the pages in a pop-up book, open up as I need them. Something below the surface of my brain must be working awfully hard coming up with that next scene, but by the time my conscious mind is aware of it the scene appears as a detailed picture. All I need to do is find the words to describe what I see.
As for every-dayness, I do some kind of writing every day, even if it is only journal-keeping, but most days I am churning out pages for a novel and waiting for the next scene magically appear.

What’s up next for you?

I've just completed a draft of the next book in the Neighborhood series. So far this series goes like this: Crossing Jordan, Anne Casey's Place in the World, My Brothers Hero, The Big Nothing, The Sorta Sisters.
The new book revolves around a fedora, long forgotten in a closet.  It was left by the mysterious Uncle Paul who has not been heard from in three years. When Cody Floyd finds and begins to wear the hat it seems to give him magic powers. At first the older kids in the neighborhood make fun of Cody and his “magic hat” but when the hat finds them an abandoned garage deep in the woods, the perfect clubhouse, they begin to listen to Cody and gradually come to depend on the magic of the hat. The story is told in the course of one week, the week before Cody's seventh birthday, a birthday he shares with his vanished uncle who will unexpectedly reappear on their shared birthday.

What an engaging idea! Is there anything else you’d like to tell us – secret dreams, childhood favorite books, how you got started as a writer...?

One thing I always mention is the library my neighbors and I started at the house across the street from mine. My father lived there until his death in 2007. Because I didn’t want to sell the house I needed a good excuse to keep it (who needs two houses?).  The best excuse I could come up with was to turn it into a library for the kids of Seminole Manor Neighborhood. We now have more than 2,000 cataloged books and run programs for the kids every Sunday.  I put a link below if you would like to visit the Front Porch Library.
Secret dreams? Okay, but remember that “dream” is the operative word here. One of my favorite forms of writing is songwriting which I do collaboratively with my singing partner, Craig Reeder. I’d love it if we could write a hit—you know, the kind guys who have giant busses with their names on the side play for crazy-big audiences.
My more realistic dream is to continue to write and have my novels published and read. I am lucky to have worked for a dozen years with Peachtree Publishers, a great independent house in Atlanta. I wish every writer could find a home for their work that is as supportive. The “peaches” feel like my second family.  
Thanks for helping me keep the dream of reaching readers going Janet!

You are more than welcome! Please give readers a way to find out more about your books and you. And thanks!

My author website:
My blog for adult readers:
Literacy music video made by my band, Hot Tamale and the kids of The Front Porch Library:


Anonymous said...

What a treat to wake up and see this interview looking oh-so-snappy! Thanks again Janet.


Janet Fox said...

Thank you so much for coming by, Adrian!