Thursday, March 15, 2012

Author Interview & Book Review: Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Title: Girl Unmoored

Author: Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Publisher: Fiction Studio Books

Publication Date: March 2012

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
This book was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Things are not going well for Apron. Her mother has passed away and she is left with her good intentioned but absentee father. Her soon to be step mother is pregnant and her best friend has started hanging out with someone new.
But then she meets him- her new friend Mike who owns the local florist shop. And as this new world unfolds, Apron awakens.

This is Hummer's debut novel and it is all sweet, sad and funny in equal measure. Apron is a thoughtful girl. She sees past what people want her to see to who they truly are. The world and time Apron is growing up in is different to today, and while she deals with all the usual growing pains, she's also faced with the fear and uncertainty that is the mid-1980s.
I love Apron's warmth, openness and guts. She is young, but mature beyond her years.

Mike and Mike's boyfriend Chad are a fun, loving pair. The dialogue between them flows easily over the page. Apron seems to genuinely belong with this group, easy and honest conversation and a warmth that she doesn't have at home.

In contrast, her stepmom M is hard to stomach. Everyone can relate to knowing the darker side of a person when their loved ones or friends can't see it, and this bad relationship hits all the cringe worthy marks. I liked Apron's dad through the whole book because even though he is clueless, absent and a little neglectful, I don't think he is trying to be. 

I really enjoyed Girl Unmoored. It's a heart warming debut novel. Pick it up and share Apron's adventures.

Author Interview with Jennifer Gooch Hummer!

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!

What inspired you to become a writer?
When I was seven years old, minding my own business, brushing my teeth, the girl in the mirror smirked back at me and said, “You’re going to be a writer.” No way, I told that girl. Being a writer was about the least exciting thing I could think of. Writers were boring and old and not famous. No way was I going to become one, and give up my dream of becoming a Professional Avon Lady. But by fourth grade I knew she was right.

What was the last book you read?
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. This is a tremendous book. Just brilliant. The dialogue is an art form unto itself. I needed a window-washer for my glasses.

What sparked the idea for Girl Unmoored? And who came up with the title?
My character, Apron, knocked on my head in fifth grade. I had never heard the name “Apron” before, but suddenly there she was. I started a book called “A Girl Named Apron” which unfortunately had no plot. So I abandoned it. But Apron stayed with me all these years, and when I met my friend Mike, I finally found her story. My publisher didn’t like the title, “A Girl Named Apron,” so after coming up with about ten thousand others, I finally landed on Girl Unmoored. Apron lives in Maine and much of the setting includes sailboats. “Unmoored” is a sailing term, of course, and can imply being freed or lost. Apron is both.

Apron is such a complex character- so young, but more aware than most of the adult around her. What was it like writing Apron’s voice?
It was like slipping into your most favorite jeans. Apron’s voice and the way she interprets the world was the easiest part of the book. Plot, pace, conflict; these were more challenging. Girl Unmoored was a hundred and fifty pages longer at one point because I could put Apron in any situation and remain true to her voice. It was hard to cut these beloved scenes, but important to keep the pace strong.

Why did you choose to set your story in 1985?
In 1984 the AIDS virus was discovered, and in 1985 Rock Hudson, the old time hunky movie star, died of it. This single event triggered world wide recognition of the virus. Even if you were too young to know much about Rock Hudson, as I was, it defined an era. If a movie star could get AIDS, anyone could. Plus, the eighties were just the best. Big hair (everyone), lacey underwear (Madonna), Cool time-warp cars (Back to the Future). It’s just a fun time to write about. 

I love a good villain and M, Apron’s step-mother, fits the bill perfectly. How did you develop her character?
M is horrible. She’s conniving and self-serving and desperate to stay in America. The first rule about creating the villain as that they should never think of themselves as the villain. If that happens, you’ve lost a lot of the conflict. M is embittered by the fact that she cannot remain in America, and will be forced to return to Brazil when her time as a nurse’s aide is up. Her hatred toward Apron is really just jealousy, as all hate usually is. My job was to remain true to M’s desperate goal. She thought she was capable of doing anything to stay in America. In the end, however, she proves herself wrong.

How do you like your potato?
I don’t want the potato people coming after me…. but I don’t like potatoes. I know everyone else in the world does, but I’ve just never liked them. Not even French Fries. Now onion rings, that’s a different story.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A designer. Fashion, homes, websites - I’d be designing some or all of these. To me, creating beautiful things is the greatest thing in the world. Families can be beautiful too, and hopefully I’ve created one of those.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
Delores Price from Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone is one of the best fictional characters ever. And Enzo, the dog from The Art of Racing in the Rain, will nearly destroy your tear ducts.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Take care of my daughters, husband, and overly attached dog. I also swim on a swim team, go to a (Ballet) barre class, and make jewelry. I started a little jewelry line a couple of years ago, which keeps me busier than I would have thought. I also spend a good part of every evening trying to barter my way out of making dinner. I’ve even tried paying my daughters to forgo dinner, but they never take it. They like to watch me suffer.

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s the best book on writing ever. The most important thing I learned from that book was to give myself permission to write horribly. So horribly you wouldn’t read it to your dog. Because inside the horribleness of those sentences, is the tiny sparkling of a voice. And sooner or later if you keep showing up at the page, you’re going to catch it.

Congrats on your debut book!
What future projects are you working on right now?
I have two novels that I am getting ready to submit. One is a YA Fantasy and the other is more of a Chick Lit. I’ve put both books on the back burner while getting Girl Unmoored ready. So I’m looking forward to getting back to them. My characters are looking forward to it too. A few of them have been left hanging on a cliff.

Thank you for stopping by!
You can visit Jennifer here or follow her on twitter @JGoochHummer

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