Do you love blue as much as I do?
Is it a codeword for depression or is blue
sky high beauty, to you?
Cover art by Elena Megalos
As soon as next week on June 1, EVERYWHERE BLUE,
Joanne Rossmassler Fritz’s debut book, appears. Everywhere.
This amazing Pennsylvania author bested two brain aneurisms.
She collected a crackerjack medical healing team, supported in
her unexpected journey by hubby and two clever sons who,
tho grown, provide her with hijinks. After serious health
trauma, she completed her first-ever novel, in verse, and is
now at work on her second verse novel where a character
may have an experience with aneurism; there’s not a hint
of aneurism in the first, but the important topic of mental
illness plays a key role.
Joanne’s career life is also fascinating to any writer.
And I know she is a craftful poem maker because I’m fortuante to have met
Joanne at a Highlights Foundation workshop. Let’s take a ramble with Joanne:
Q WHAT PARTS OF YOUR PAST PROFESSIONAL JOBS ARE A FIT WITH BEING
A NOVELIST FOR MIDDLE GRADE?
A: All of them! I worked the longest in an indie bookstore (ten years in the Children’s Department), but I also worked for four years in a school library, and for two and a half years in the Children’s Department of a major publishing company, as an editorial assistant (back when I was young!
Q HOW DID YOU PREPARE TO WRITE A FIRST VERSE NOVEL?
A: Over the space of about 20 years, I wrote at least a dozen picture books, which I never managed to get published. I believe that experience helped me hone my writing down to the essential words, although I never thought of writing a verse novel at that point. Then after my first brain aneurysm rupture (in 2005), I started writing novels. Between 2007 and 2013, I completed four novels in prose. I was getting frustrated at not finding an agent or getting any nibbles from publishers, so I started submitting poems and flash fiction for adults to literary journals. I managed to get a few of these published in 2013 and 2014. Then, hoping to get another poem published, I started writing one about taking oboe lessons when I was in junior high. I loved learning the oboe, but I hated getting out of the lessons after dark on winter afternoons. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of EVERYWHERE BLUE. I never submitted it anywhere. Instead, in early 2015, I wrote three chapters of a new novel about a girl who plays the oboe and whose brother vanishes. I immediately realized that it wasn’t working in prose and it needed to be in verse. That’s when I went back to my poem about the oboe lesson and started over again right there. From then on, it flowed.
Q. CAN YOU SHARE SOMETHING ABOUT HOW THE INDIVIDUAL POEMS AND FORMS DEVELOPED OVER TIME?
A: I started out writing only in free verse. But after much revision, it was actually my agent, Barbara Krasner, who suggested I add some formal poetry. I wrote a few couplets and tercets, and then spent three weeks in August 2019 writing a villanelle. That was a real challenge for me, but I loved it! I will definitely add one to my next book. After my editor, Sally Morgridge, read the manuscript, she had me add quite a few more brief poems, and even add some stanzas to existing poems.
Q WHAT’S NEXT IN WRITING FOR YOU?
A: I’m working on another novel in verse. This time it’s YA. I can’t say too much about it because it’s not finished! And the way I write, it will change quite a bit.
Readers, I hope you will ask your library to order EVERYWHERE BLUE & to learn more:
Across the Big Pond at the blog of a teen London journalisthttps://livswonderfulescape.wordpress.com/2021/05/19/interview-with-joanne-fritz/
WoW! The publisher’s lovely brag page includes cheers from National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine (MOCKINGBIRD) & poem samples from the advance reader copy. Not. To. Miss!
JRR on twitter @JoanneRFritz
Bookseedstudio is part of #PoetryFriday hosted today by the creative visual artist & poet, Michelle Kogan.