Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Win a free book: The Hot List by Hillary Homzie: Interview With the author

The Hot List by Hillary Homzie

A great new tween novel that girls will love! Hillary Homzie is graciously giving me 5 copies of this new novel for readers of my blog. Simply post a comment and be sure to include an email contact and your location (city, state) only because I'm nosy! I'll contact winners via email and they will provide mailing addresses. Hillary will ship copies to the winners!

Giveaway opens July 6 at 12:01 a.m.
Deadline for posting comments is July 13 at noon MST. Good luck, everyone!

Here's a smiling photo of Hillary herself! She must be dreaming up her next book!

Interview with the author Hillary Homzie

Hillary agreed to answer some questions about her book The Hot List, being a writer, and being a tween. Here is the interview. Please post your comments after this interview! Thanks, Pamela

1. In your new novel The Hot List, the BFFs Maddie and Sophie dream up the idea of a list of the 10 hottest boys and girls in their school. Where did you get this idea?

Oh, that’s a good question. I have three kids and two of them are in the middle school age range, which means I have lots of middle schoolers in and out of my house. Let’s just say that I enjoy my unofficial job as mother and spy. I want to be the house that kids feel comfortable hanging out at, and, please, I want you to know I’m not spying all of the time. I mean, I do have things to do like fold laundry, make dinner, and, um, write books. But, yes, I am a big eavesdropper and have been known to ask lots of questions, too. And the hot list is something that I found out about. In other words, there is a middle school somewhere in Northern California with one of those lists. And yes, they wrote it up on the stall of the bathroom. Sometimes I think I should write non-fiction books. But nobody would believe my stories… (blogger Pamela grins at this).

2. Sophie is quite the daredevil when it comes to writing on the bathroom wall/defacing school property, yet she seems very introspective, too. What qualities do you share with Sophie?

I’m definitely an introvert but I’m learned through the years to become an extroverted introvert so if you met me, you might even think, hey, she’s really outgoing. But it’s a learned behavior but I’ve come to enjoy being outgoing. But like Sophie, I do have an adventurous side to me, for sure. When I was 22, I headed to New York and sought out a career as a sketch comedian. Looking back, I have to say it was pretty brave. And I’ve backpacked with a bunch of friends in Mali right after College when that country wasn’t exactly stable. We all were thrown in jail due to trumped up charges and I was able to negotiate our way of jail due to (1) my ability to speak French and (2) some fast thinking on my feet that amounted to a desperate lie that I was the American ambassador’s cousin (the future fiction writer at work) and (3) remembering that what they mostly wanted was money. And lastly, like Sophie, I had a parent pass away when I was young. My father died when I was an older teenager and I knew the feeling of weirdness when your parent begins to date other people. I definitely feel empathy for Sophie on the dating score. But in truth, once you learn to let go, watching your parent meet another person can be a wonderful growth experience.

3. You have 3 boys of your own and no daughters--where do you go/search/dream up the girl-y catch-phrases and girl-y-isms?

The truth? As mentioned, I’m a big eavesdropper.

4. Sophie is a list-maker. Are you a list-maker? How does making lists help/hurt? What does list-making say about a person?

Oh, I’m a huge list maker. I write on everything, especially little scraps of paper. And I feel so much better after I do it. The biggest problem for me is that I write on little scraps of paper which end up scattered throughout my house and when it comes time to find that little bit of info that seemed so crucial at the time, I can’t find it. I feel a bit like Sisyphus in that regard. But, nevertheless, the very act of making a list prompts my brain to remember things. The dangers of listmaking—well, if you write things that you don’t want others to see and then you leave it in the house where they can see. Not a good idea. I have finally figured out the art of writing in one dedicated notebook. The only problem is sometimes I can’t find my notebook…

5. Who is Squid modeled after? A real boy or someone in the media? Someone you may have known as a young girl? One of your own sons?

Squid is not based on any one person that I know, although he’s definitely an amalgamation of many boys that I know. I mean I do have three boys and they have friends those friends have friends so it’s pretty easy to take a pinch of that and a pinch of this. That being said, my middle son is fantastically limber and definitely shares some Squid like personality traits. I have to confess to really liking Squid.

6. What is Sophie's favorite food?
Oh, gosh, she loves pretzel sticks.

7. Favorite cake?
Flourless chocolate cake.

8. Favorite soft drink?

She’s a Sprite girl. It’s mostly because her dad won’t let her have caffeinated drinks yet so that might change in the future. When she younger, she loved orange. But Sprite she feels is much more grown-up.

9. If you were Sophie's age, would she be your BFF?

Actually, probably not. I would have been too introverted and she would have been too introverted and so it would have been hard for us to get to know each other. But if I had lived next door to her and actually gotten a chance to know her, I would have LOVED her. I think it would be much easier to get to know Sophie as she appears at the end of the book. When it’s easier for her to reach out to girls other than Maddie.

Now for questions to you, the author:

10.What made you decide to write for the tween crowd?

It’s odd but I remember my tween years better than any other age. The first children’s story I ever wrote was for tweens and I sold it to Teen Magazine when I was 22. I think I’m emotionally stuck there and in the children’s writing world, it turns out to be a good thing!

11.What novel/genre haven't you tackled--but you would like to in the future?

Oh, I really want to try YA! It’s harder for me because I was never a classic teen so I don’t really have classic teen memories. My college years were probably closer to conventional teen years.

12.Are you one of those people/authors who walks around with a notebook and writes down stuff you hear/observe?

Um, see answer #4. I write on little pieces of paper ALL OF THE TIME!

13. What traits do you have personally that make a good writer?

I love to observe and read.

14. What traits do you wish you had?
I wish I was a better speller. Spell check is my best friend.

15. What advice would you give tween girls on navigating the cliques and problems of middle school?

Be who you are and those who are like-minded will naturally gravitate towards you.

16. In five words, what is the best advice you ever got?

Write five days a week!

17. What is your mood at this moment?

Happy because I’m on vacation. Always remember that downtime is good for the soul!
Thank you, Hillary, for your interview and for sponsoring 5 copies of your fun novel to giveaway! Smile....


  1. This book sounds like something my middle school girls would love! I have added it to my reading list.
    Prior Lake, MN

  2. Sounds like Hillary is truly tuned into the middle school mind. I expect because of that the story will have a truly authentic ring to it. Looking forward to reading the book.
    Sandy, UT

  3. I am enjoying my time off from school as well reading lots of books.
    Riner, VA (Near Blacksburg/Virginia Tech)

  4. I am a middle school librarian and always looking for new books for my students. I would love a copy of this book. I could already see certain students who would love this type of book.

  5. I will be moving to a middle school library from high school this fall so I love finding stories for this level - Thanks!
    Ft Collins, CO

  6. My students would love this book! Thanks for the chance to win!
    mearley1979 at gmail dot com
    Monticello, IN

  7. My students would love this book! Thanks for offering so many great giveaways!

  8. I've got some students who would love this.

    Arapahoe, NC

  9. I would love a copy.

  10. Pamela, thanks so much for interviewing me! And congrats to all of the winners. I appreciate all of your comments!