|Laura Tucker, photo by D. Crowell|
Laura Tucker is the author of All the Greys on Greene Street, a new middle grade novel for kids. She has written, co-written, and ghostwritten a variety of books, and she previously worked as a literary agent. She lives in Brooklyn.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for All the Greys on Greene Street, and for your character Olympia?
A: I wanted to write about an artist living in a time and place where making art was as natural as breathing.
Q: The novel takes place in New York City in the early 1980s. Why did you choose to set it there, and how important is setting to you in your writing?
A: Setting is really important to me; I’ve always loved books that give you insider access to special or unusual worlds. By 1981, artists and galleries had taken over a lot of abandoned industrial spaces in SoHo. I was curious to know what it would have been like to be a kid growing up there.
Q: Can you say more about why you decided to focus on artists in this novel?
A: I'm fascinated by visual art, and by artists; they tend to have a very unique way of seeing the world. By writing about an artist, I got to borrow that perspective for a while. (I loved it. Still can't draw, though.)
Q: Another focus of the book is depression. Why did you choose that as a theme?
A: It's important to talk about it. There's still an enormous amount of shame and stigma surrounding mental health, which leads to secrecy and can mean that people don't get the help they need. Ollie's mom does get better, but she needs help—and it's not until her community becomes involved that she gets it.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: My day job is co-authoring and ghostwriting nonfiction books, and I've got a deadline coming up. But I have started to play around with some ideas for a new middle grade, and I'm really (really) excited to get back to it.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Some early readers have been saying that Olympia and All the Greys inspired them to break out their art supplies! This was unexpected, and makes me very, very happy.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb