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Author Interview: Jessica Lee Anderson

Thursday, February 2, 2012
Today, I'm interviewing with Jessica Lee Anderson, author of Calli, which I reviewed earlier this year and absolutely loved. It was released in stores recently, and I highly recommend that you get a copy if you haven't already!

Fifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.

Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes.

What books inspired you during your childhood and adolescent years?
When I was younger, my mom read LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott. I felt drawn to the character of Jo March and wanted to write just like she did. I also read anything and everything by Judy Blume and Barbara Kingsolver!

Calli has lesbian mothers who decide to become foster parents. I noticed that your other young adult books serious issues like schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. What inspired you to tack such issues?
Life has had a way of inspiring each one of my books. TRUDY is very personal to me as I watched my grandmother slowly slip away to Alzheimer’s. Around the same time, I took many psychology and special education courses that made me want to learn even more about the brain and its ailments. This quest for understanding, plus time spent living in west Texas led to the development of BORDER CROSSING. CALLI was inspired by several nontraditional families near to my heart as well as interest in becoming a future foster parent.

Are you planning on tackling other issues in future books?
I’m sure my personal experiences will continue to influence future books, though my current works in progress aren’t as issues-centered. I hope to write an urban fantasy in the near future.

That's exciting. I'm looking forward to reading your urban fantasy! If you could spend a day with any of your characters, who would you choose and why? Where would you go?
Ooh, great question! I’d love to hang out with all of my characters, but I would take Lemond, Calli’s foster brother, to Disneyworld if I could. For someone so young, Lemond has been through so much and deserves a magical vacation. It would be thrilling to watch his face light up walking around the resort and to listen to him whoop and shriek as we rode Space Mountain.

If you were to write a spinoff for a character from one of your YA books, who would it be about?
I would love to write a novel from Cherish’s point of view. Calli’s foster sister is full of personality, attitude, and surprises. Like Lemond, she’s been through so much and I believe her future would be an interesting story to develop.

I adore Cherish and would definitely love to read her story given the opportunity. What books would you recommend to any YA reader out there?
DEAR TEEN ME, edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally—this book will be releasing in 2012 and features letters authors composed to their teen selves. Lots of inspiring, hope, and humor will be found in this book!

Another book to be on the lookout for is one of my very favorite books, SOLSTICE by PJ Hoover. This steamy romance with mythological elements first came out as an indie e-book but will be released by a traditional trade publisher in the near future.

Anything else you'd like to add?
HUGE thanks! For more information, visit my website.
Much appreciation, Kris!

Thank YOU for dropping by Imaginary Reads!

Jessica's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Jessica Lee Anderson is the author of Trudy (winner of the 2005 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature), Border Crossing (Quick Picks Nomination, Cynsational Book of 2009), as well as Calli (2011, YALSA's Readers' Choice Booklist Nomination). She’s published two nonfiction readers, as well as fiction and nonfiction for a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children. Jessica graduated from Hollins University with a Master of Arts in Children's Literature, and instructed at the Institute of Children's Literature for five years. She is a member of The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels and hopes to be more sweetheart than scoundrel. She lives near Austin, Texas with her husband and two crazy dogs.

Related Posts
My review of Calli

4 comments on "Author Interview: Jessica Lee Anderson"
  1. Thanks for the interview :D I like how the author is so "different" and serious in her writing, like when she writes about mental disorders and foster parents. I also like how she wants to be a foster parent - that seems so sweet! Can't wait to read Caili!

    1. I loved interviewing with Jessica. She is awesome, as are her books. Calli is an amazing read. I hope you enjoy it!!


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