Friday, January 9, 2015

Interview with Nora Raleigh Baskin

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Nora Raleigh Baskin. Lizzy reviewed her book Anything But Typical, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Nora!

What inspired you to write Anything But Typical?

I get asked that question quite a bit and I’ve handled it many different ways. Basically it grew out of a conversation with my editor and my initial rejection of that idea, thinking that I knew nothing about it and couldn’t possibly ever write an autistic character authentically.  However after doing a little research and then a lot of research I grew to understand how little difference there actually is between me and Jason. There were external difference but more internal similarities and that intrigued me. I knew I wanted to write in first person and I knew I wanted to write about acceptance. And that was all I started with. I learned so much along the way, about my self and about what it means to be “dis-abled” and labeled. I can relate to both.

How long did it take you to write Anything But Typical?

As always, it takes me four to six months to write my first draft and another half a year or so with my editor on revisions. We went back and forth quite a bit on this one. There were scenes taken out and then added back in. The entire series of “false endings” which are experienced by Jason were possible endings in my mind, which I simply transferred to Jason’s mind. Or maybe it was the other way around, who knows?

What was your inspiration for the characters Jason and Rebecca (PhoneixBird)?

My inspiration is myself. Both of those characters (and most all of my characters) come from deep, honest, thoughtful looks into my self, my emotions, my experiences, and my psyche. Whether I am writing a protagonist or antagonist, it doesn’t matter..it is always a matter of “What would I do if I were living this life.”

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

Well, there weren’t nearly as many writers for children as there are now of course. The first real literature I recognized and fell in love with was the works of E. B White. I will never forget reading Charlotte’s Web out loud to my family (we were hippies with no TV) and seeing first hand the power of story. Everyone was crying, of course. The Trumpet of the Swan was the best present I got in 1972. And yes, I used to ride to the library and seek out Nancy Drew. I couldn’t get enough of her, or any historical non-fiction about famous people when they were kids. I can’t say I cared much who the author was. I doubt I even paid attention. I just ate up the stories. I especially loved stories about kids overcoming hardship and growing up to do important things.

If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?

Yikes..maybe back in New Paltz, but it’s changed so much since I was a kid. I’d love to live on a ranch or a farm if someone else did all the work. But actually, I really love my house now in Weston, CT because it is wooded, and rural, and quiet but close enough to get into NYC in an hour or so. I am completely a homebody though. If there’s food in the house, I can stay home for days. 

If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?

Oh, dear..I can’t answer that question and it’s really upsetting me. It stirs up some unwelcome thoughts.  I’ll have to get back to you on this one.

Jason has obstacles that he has to overcome. What advice do you have for kids or adults who feel that they can’t overcome the obstacles in front of them?

Well, Jason has obstacles but he doesn’t see them that way. I wanted to show Jason as someone who is comfortable with who he is. It is the rest of the world that has a problem with him and there is nothing he can do about that. So that would be my advice: Be comfortable with who you are. Accept yourself and understand that not everyone else will be able to but do your best to figure out who can and who can’t. Stay away from the ones who can’t. Did that make any sense?


You write books about a variety of different topics. How do you decide what you are going to write next?

I seem never to at a lose for things that interest me. Or stories that have been brewing in my mind and heart for many many years. Sometimes I hash ideas out with my editor but sometimes I have to just take a leap of faith and try something new, write it all and see if anyone is interested. That’s scary. I have to say, lately I’ve been very interested in structure and experimental story telling, more so than the autobiographical history that once drove all my writing.

The path to publication varies from author to author. Every author has a unique story and one that other authors can learn from. Can you tell us a little bit about your path to publication or do you have any advice for new authors?

Oy, that’s a long story (the one you guys heard at my CT book festival presentation) so instead I’ll give you my parting advice. Keep writing, keep getting better. Don’t send out the same thing for twenty years and hope your turn will come up. Read, meet people, read, go to conferences, take courses, and give your work to a trusted (and very kind) reader-friend. Listen when they tell you what works and what doesn’t. You will never please everyone. There are too many different tastes and opinions. So don’t jump through every hoop until someone is ready to buy or represent you. And write from your heart.


Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I have a book coming out this June, 2015 Ruby on the Outside about a girl whose mother is incarcerated at Bedford Women’s Correctional Facility. And another MG novel called Nine/Ten scheduled for August 2016 about the twenty-four hours before 9/11 all across the United States. And right now I am working on a YA novel about depression, love, and suicide. How’s that for a variety of topics? hmmm....



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66 comments:

  1. My sister is autistic, so I'd be interested to read this. Love the title as well.

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    1. Vanessa- I have a family member with autism too. This definitely helped me to see things from his point of view. :) ~Stephanie

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  2. Love Nora's advice on being our true selves and to keep reading, writing and meeting people. As for my dream, I hope to get better at watercolour painting and create beautiful book covers. I get so much pleasure out of browsing through paintings on Pinterest. Hope I develop my style by and by. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Claudine- I love Nora's advice too! What wonderful dreams! I love your watercolors, and it is great that you have an outlet that gives you so much pleasure. I love to look at artwork, but I don't create it. :) ~L

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  3. haha yeah as long as there is food in the house I can be a hermit for a while as well. Great interview

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    1. Paul- Yes, the food is a must! :) Glad you enjoyed the interview. ~L

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  4. Interesting interview. Your WIP about a girl whose mom is incarcerated sounds good!

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    1. Catherine- Thanks! I agree with you that Nora's latest WIP sounds very intriguing. :) ~L

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  5. this sounds great! and i agree with Nora on where to live. I love Long Island since it's close to the city but still the "suburbs" lol

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    1. Beth Ellen- Thanks so much for stopping in. Great to hear from you and it sounds like you love where you live. :) ~L

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  6. Great advice on not continuing to query the same project. You always have to be progressing, writing more, reading more, etc.

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  7. Thanks for the intro to Nora! Love meeting other writers. Enjoyed hearing about her process and journey.

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    1. Karen- You are welcome. I always love meeting other writers too! :) ~Stephanie

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  8. Great interview! I'm curious about the befriending a character bit, I must admit!

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    1. Meradeth- Nora's answer definitely makes us think.:) Glad you enjoyed the interview! ~Stephanie

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  9. Jess... this was a great interview... her books sound like something I would love.. I loved the Nancy Drew stories when I was growing up.. Charlotte's web was another favorite too ♡

    Have a great weekend xox

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    1. Launna- So glad you enjoyed the interview! Nora's books are great! Nancy Drew and Charlotte's Web are the best! :) ~Jess

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  10. 'If there’s food in the house, I can stay home for days.'

    Ah, a true writer. :)

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  11. Thank you so much. In accepting himself Jason has an ability which not many of us are given. Such a wonderful place to start.
    As another home-body (I went out for the first time in over a week yesterday) I smiled broadly.

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    1. Elephant's Child- Jason is someone we can all relate to for sure. All the homebodies out there will see at least a little of themselves in him. :) ~L

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  12. I am so intrigued by this one. I must read it soon. Thanks for sharing this great interview. Happy weekend.

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    1. Heidi- I am glad you enjoyed the interview and I am happy to hear you are intrigued by Anything But Typical! :) ~L

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  13. Great interview. Thanks for this post and a chance to win what sounds like a wonderful book.

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    1. Rosi- Thanks! Good luck in the giveaway. :) ~L

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  14. Thank you for an outstanding interview!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Terrie! Thanks for stopping by. :) ~L

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  15. I really liked this interview and the way the author wrote about her experiencing of writing Anything but Typical. I can see the similarities between me and Jason - being labeled as something and not being able to get out of that box. Although, I feel like I enjoy being me and hopefully Jason does too.

    What dream would you like to make happen for yourself? I want to be completely happy in life and one day love.

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    1. Adriana- I am so happy you enjoyed the interview and hearing from Nora. You should definitely enjoy being you! So often we struggle with our labels, when we are so much more than them! :) I hope your dreams come true. You deserve it! :) ~L

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  16. My dream is to have more time in my library classes to read aloud (especially to the upper elementary students) and give more booktalks to inspire them to read more and more diversely.

    Loved Anything but Typical and look forward to reading the new book when it comes out.

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    1. Chrissy- I love your dream! It is so much fun to listen to a good story being read aloud. Booktalks are also awesome. Always great to learn about new books.

      Also, how wonderful to hear you loved Anything But Typical! :) ~L

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  17. Taking a leap of faith of writing does sound scary

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  18. Anything But Typical sounds great, and all her WIP and upcoming novels also sound excellent. thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Shooting Stars- It is great! I can't wait to read her WIP when it is out. :) ~L

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  19. It sounds like a great book--and great interview! I agree...when we were kids, there weren't nearly as many great kids' books. It's a great time for an avid reader to grow up!

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    1. Stephanie- It is a great book! Good luck in the giveaway. :) There are definitely lots of awesome books out there to read! ~L

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  20. I can only imagine the kind of research that would be required to write an autistic person. I love the idea that she used all of her ideas for endings. That's a great way to look at life, that there's nothing wrong with him.

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    1. Molly- I agree with you that the research has to be time intensive. It was so much fun to learn more about Nora and where she gets her ideas! :) ~L

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  21. Well DMS thank you for this interview, allowing an interesting insight to the Nora Raleigh Baskin, methods, and as for writing about depression! love and suicide,
    Be brave But leave the light on at night. your knocking on heavens door. loved it be well, Agman

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    1. Terence- You are so welcome! So glad you enjoyed learning more about Nora and her writing. :) ~L

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  22. Sounds great, y'all. Bodacious interview. You guys ROCK! Let us all be true to ourselves. I HAVE to read this book now.

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    1. Robyn- It is! I agree- we should all be true to ourselves. I hope you enjoy Anything But Typical! :) ~L

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  23. I always love reading your interviews! They are perfect! I love seeing the faces behind the books!

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    1. Patty- Thanks! You made us smile. We like seeing the faces behind the books, too! :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  24. O.O I never read Charlotte's Web, now that I think about it. I've seen the movie, back when I was 10, but thought it was weird haha. A pig that befriends a spider - nice spider - that befriends a human? Okay...hahha But I think I will after all :P

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    1. Lola- If you haven't read Charlotte's Web then you definitely should. The move is good, but the book is really fabulous. When you read about the relationships they make sense. :) ~L

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  25. The interview was fascinating. It's so great Nora's agent helped her pick the project. I used to live in CT, too, and yes, it's very beautiful there. Wishing Nora much success! :)

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    1. Lexa- So glad you enjoyed it. Nora sounds like she has a wonderful agent. I didn't know you used to live in CT! Where? :) ~L

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  26. I love this Nora interview, sounds look a wonderful book!

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    1. Thanks, Gloria! Anything But Typical is a wonderful book. :) ~L

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  27. This book is awesome. I read it when it was on the awards list and have recommended it to students.

    If I had the chance to make a dream come true for myself it would be a choice between becoming a published author, or becoming a licensed pilot. Tough decision!

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    1. Suzanne- So great to hear you read and loved Anything But Typical. How awesome that you recommend it to students! Your dreams sound fascinating- decisions, decisions. :) ~L

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  28. thank you everyone..it's cold and snowy here in CT. Great day to stay in and write! Or stare at the page/screen, if you will...as I am doing apparently.

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    1. Nora- We had so much fun meeting you back in November. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed on our blog. It is chilly in CT! Stay warm! Hope you are getting a lot of writing done! :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  29. such inspiring intensity in your topics! it was great getting to know you better and what's behind your wriiting! congrats on your success and thank you for bringing light to tough topics, especially to young readers!

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    1. Tara= Thanks for your thoughtful comment for Nora! :) ~L

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  30. Great interview.
    Nora, it sounds like you've got an excellent working relationship with your editor.

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    1. Sandra- So happy you enjoyed the interview! :) ~L

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  31. Congrats to Nora. Great interview.

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    1. Nas- Thanks for your kind comment! :) ~L

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  32. Thank you for the interview! I'd love to write a book. So many authors tell these amazing stories; I'd love to find one of my own.

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    1. Yun-A- Wishing you the best of luck finding your story. I know you can do it! :) ~L

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