Monday, December 5, 2016

Q&A with Megan Shull

Megan Shull is the author of Bounce, a new novel for kids. Her other books for young readers include The Swap and Amazing Grace. She lives in Ithaca, New York.

Q: You’ve said that the idea for Bounce came from various inspirations, including the movie Groundhog Day and a documentary project called Where Children Sleep. How did you unite these ideas into one novel?

A: Yes! Here’s the story: I came across a stunning collection of photos by James Mollison, a documentary photographer. The exhibit, now a book, called Where Children Sleep features portraits of children around the world, and their bedrooms.

The project was conceived as a way to highlight childhood poverty and the side-by-side single snapshot comparison—that juxtaposition of poverty and privilege, is incredibly striking. So much of who we are and how we turn out to be is grounded in our story of origin and the family that we land in….

And yes, the 1993 film Groundhog Day was certainly kindling for Frannie’s journey. One of the things I love about the film is that the story is so tight that there’s not really a need to understand the “rules” behind the magic (waking up over and over and over again reliving the same day) that drives the story forward.

You end up so invested in the transformational journey that you sort of forget about the moving through space and time part. 

Q: What does the idea of "bouncing" from one experience to another signify for you, and how did you decide on the book's title?

A: The title was really inspired from the image of Frannie literally dropping down and bouncing into the beds and lives. But soon, I had one of those “Oh, whoa!” moments when I realized I had written a whole story about resiliency and learning how to bounce back.

I love that the title works on a couple different levels, and I think learning how to bounce back when times are tough is truly half the battle of . . . everything.

Q: Did you know how the book would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: Luckily I know the author ;) So, yes. I knew how the story was going to tie up going into the whole deal. 

Q: What do you think the book says about relationships between parents and children, or among siblings?

A: One of the things I love about the story is that the teenagers in the book, (Frannie’s siblings) are seen in a very different light from the start of the book to the end.

I don’t think that they necessarily had a huge internal transformation . . . more, it’s a little window into the fact that most humans have the innate ability to be good and to be not so good, or kind.

To be human is to be both and as you get older and grow, you hopefully are able to harness more kindness than unkindness. We are works in progress.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Ahhh . . .more books! Stay tuned!

Q: Anything else we should know?

Yes! My goal always as I write is for my readers to want to keep the book close, or tuck it under their pillow because the protagonist’s journey somehow helps them (the reader) feel seen, safe, soothed, and—as with my new novel, Bounce—more resilient, and more capable of bouncing back after falling…

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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