Monday, July 5, 2010

Author Interview: Anne Osterlund


Hello there!

I have a treat for you! Anne Osterlund, author of Academy 7 and Aurelia is here today answering some questions. 

It's my first time doing an interview, so go easy on me.

First, I want to welcome and thank Anne for being here. She took time out of her busy day to talk to me, it's very kind of her. Please give her a warm welcome and run to your nearest bookstore to get her books.

Here she is, enjoy!

1) I know some authors get inspired by dreams, events, pictures, etc. What was your inspiration for writing Academy 7?

I first found Aerin while I was writing in a notebook in a guest room at my grandmother’s house. It was a beautiful day outside—a rarity in Astoria, OR. My best friend, a special guest, was outside enjoying the sunshine. And I was upstairs, on a less than comfortable bed, scribbling away.

Aerin was gazing in a mirror, removing her headband, and contemplating the vast question of whether she could scrub away the person she had been in order to become someone different. Aerin has never been particularly easy to read, but she has always been intriguing. Raw. And the heart of the story. That scene, and Aerin herself, are the inspiration for the story.

2) Did the story came to you already completely outlined, or did it changed and took unexpected turns while you were writing it?

Yes and yes. I always tend to think out the entire story before writing (so much faster that way). But there are still a myriad of discoveries to be found within every draft.

The villains, in particular, give me all kinds of trouble. You see, they lie. In Academy 7, Yvonne, in particular, tried to overinflate her status. This would be because she is so annoying. With Aurelia, I had actually written three full drafts before I figured out who the mastermind was behind the assassination plot.

3) You've said in your website that Academy 7 is a mixture of Stars Wars and The Outsiders. How and why did you decide to have the story of Aerin and Dane set in the Sci-Fi genre? Was Stars Wars really a big influence?

It is set in space because that is where Aerin lives. There was never any question of where she was escaping from or where she was heading. As I mentioned earlier, the entire story comes out of the scene in which she tucks the letter in the mirror. I’ve labeled that scene as Aerin’s Dilemma on the excerpt pages available on my website if any of your visitors would like to read it. The prologue and the first chapter are there as well.

I wouldn’t say that Star Wars was an influence, really. It is a frame of reference I use when describing the book to other people. Star Wars is ultimately a very old story, the tale of a hero, two heroes actually, saving a princess. That same blend of fantasy, romance, and science fiction is present in Academy 7.

4) Can you describe Academy 7 in 10 or less words?

No, but I can describe it in 12.
Two teens risk everything to attend the greatest school in the universe.

5) How does Academy 7 differs from your other book Aurelia?

LOL, Aurelia is a young adult historical fantasy about a princess who should not be a princess. Think Cinderella inside out and with an assassination plot. Aurelia herself is headstrong, opinionated, stubborn, and she is only beginning to learn about the harsh realities of her world, her life, and the people she trusts.

Academy 7 is a young adult science fantasy set in outer space. Aerin is a determined, disciplined young woman whose predominant characteristic throughout the vast majority of the book is fear. She has already experienced some of the greatest horrors her world can claim, and her challenge is to find a way to move beyond that terror.

In a way the stories are opposites. Though, at heart, they also have very much in common. But that is another question . . .

6) Do you have any plans to write a sequel to Academy 7?

In my head there are three books about Aerin and Dane, and I would love to be able to share them all.

7) What about for Aurelia? I know you are working on Exile, the sequel to it, but are there more Aurelia books in the works?

Again, in my head there are three stories about Aurelia and Robert. I know, I know, this is a wee bit ambitious! But I can’t help it. That is how the stories came to me. And I didn’t know, when I began Academy 7, that anyone would publish Aurelia so my thinking at the time was that I should write something different so that my second story would have just a good a chance of reaching all of you.

8) How can we, your fans and readers, help make an Academy 7 sequel come to life?

Just spread the word, I suppose, as you would with any other story you love!

9) Are there any hints that you can share with us about where you plan on taking Aerin and Dane in future novels?

Aerin says, “No.” She is very secretive.

10) I know you are a 6th grade teacher, which is hard work. How do you manage to juggle writing novels and teaching?

I have no idea. It’s quite impossible. I suppose the literal answer is a lot of chocolate and very little sleep.

11) What do you want your readers to take away with them when they read one of your books?

I hope they will plunge into the stories, fall in love with the characters and their worlds, and want to return to them again and again and again.

12) When reading Academy 7 I noticed how strong your characters are. How they are so well developed that they jump off the page. Do your stories begin with your characters or do they come after you have this new world already alive in your mind?

They begin with the characters. Always. The characters live and breathe and tell me when I mess up or write something wrong. These are their lives and their worlds, and my challenge is to try to share the story in a way that is as vivid and powerful, strong and beautiful, dangerous and real as it is in my head.

13) Do you have any plans to write new stories, besides the sequels for Academy 7 and Aurelia?

Yes. So are you ready for the pitch for Salvation? Coming your way spring of 2012.

SALVA (Salvador) RESENDEZ is a god at Liberty High School. Quarterback. National Honor Society Member. ASB President. His Mexican immigrant family has high expectations, and Salva is prepared to fulfill them—mostly—but what he really wants is to blend in with his friends and enjoy his senior year. A goal bound for destruction when an asinine requirement forces him into AP English with the teacher from hell. And with walking disaster area, BETH COURANT. Who may be his salvation. But what neither Salva nor Beth knows is that the cost of salvation is mortality.

14) Why did you decide to write Young Adult books?

Because I love to read young adult books: Tamora Pierce, S.E. Hinton, Ann Rinaldi, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, John Marsden, Sally Watson, and on and on and on.

Other Reasons I love YA:
The characters have minds of their own.
They make their own decisions and their own mistakes.
They don’t have to be happy.
Or funny.
They get in trouble.
And change their minds.
And have the ability to grow.
They don’t know everything.
And they don’t know they don’t know everything.
And there is always hope.

15) As a teacher and a teen novel writer do you feel you have a responsibility to help shape young minds? If so, how does that come across in your writing?

I think it is my job to open minds. Not shape them. One of the things I love about writing young adult books and working with teens and tweens is that my readers and students are themselves. They have minds and opinions and thoughts of their own. I don’t always know what is right or have the perfect solution. And if I throw out problems or questions or dilemmas in my teaching or the same with regard to my characters in my writing, who knows? My audience may come up with their own unique solutions to those questions. In fact, based on my experience teaching, I would say nine times out of ten, they will.

16) What advice would you give to wanna-be writers?

Write the story you love! The one that refuses to disappear—that stays in your head and keeps calling “Write me!” And when you finish that one, write the next and the next and the next.

17) What are your thoughts on the fan-fiction phenomenon? 

I think a great reader is someone who is constantly imagining how the story will unfold as they read. And I know, in my head, I have a million continuations and sometimes alternate endings to the stories I have most loved reading. At its best, I think fan-fiction is a homage to that idea.

18) What book are you currently reading?

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

19) What's your favorite book?

James Barrie’s novel, Peter Pan, is my all-time favorite. Because the magic is real. And the danger is real. And the island is real. Not like in the Disney movie where it could all be a dream, and not like in the play where everything feels fake. What I love about the book is that it all feels real.

20) Who's your favorite fictional character?

Peter Pan

21) If you could have dinner with any other author, dead or alive, who would it be?

Actually, I had the opportunity to meet my favorite author, Tamora Pierce, at the Sirens Conference on Women in Fantasy Literature in Vail, CO last year (fabulous conference! Highly recommended).  I would love to meet Ann Rinaldi. I think her ability to create historically relevant female heroines is amazing! As for authors from the past, I wouldn’t turn down the chance to talk to James Barrie or Louisa May Alcott or Laura Ingalls Wilder.

22) Do you have a favorite character among your own?

What are you trying to do? Start a war within my head?

23) Which book (besides your own, of course) would you have liked to have written?

LOL, well Peter Pan, of course.

24) What's your favorite book genre?

Fantasy. Though I love historical fiction as well. I read about 1/3 fantasy, 1/3 historical fiction, and 1/3 everything else.

25) If you could marry any literary character who would it be?

Oh dear, I think it would be better to steer away from that one.

26) Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

Just thank you, thank you, for reading the stories and joining me on this incredible ride of the imagination!

There you have it. Isn't she wonderful?
I want to again thank Anne Osterlund for being here and for being so gracious.  I really appreciate her taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.

Thanks Anne!

Make sure to check out her books and my review of Academy 7

And don't forget to visit Anne's website, there are book excerpts and all kinds of fun stuff:

Anne Osterlund books:

Academy 7Aurelia


  1. Awesome interview hon! Great job!!! =))) I cant wait to read Academy 7! =)

  2. I actually just recently added Academy 7 on my TBR, I'm rather overjoyed to read it now.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  3. Loved loved loved the interview, congrats! Academy 7 is awesome and I'm SO glad the word is out. Can't wait to read the sequels!!!

  4. OMG! *hearts in front of eyes* I love Peter Pan, too!

    What a great interview! Truly! What is better than an ambitious author? And someone please get me on a time machine and get me a copy of Salvation right now! It sounds amazing, and not just because it's about a Mexican immigrant family! I wonder if I can sign up for the ARC wait list now. LOL

    I also really appreciated the way Osterlund talked about her characters. It was so lovely!

    I'm so enchanted here. Thanks so much for introducing me to a new author. I'm really looking forward to reading her books.


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