From Conrad: Once in a while, I get an e-mail that lifts my spirits into the troposphere. I received this from Elissa Hoole, a teacher, poet, and fellow YA novelist who lives in northern Minnesota. I have this in common with Elissa’s students — we all struggle to spell my name. Thanks, Elissa, I greatly appreciate your kind words.
As a writer, especially perhaps a writer coming off a long and rather painful editing jag, I have an increasingly difficult time getting “swept away” by a book — that semi-magical sense of connecting with a book emotionally and intellectually and…I dunno, bodily. Like getting slugged in the guts and enjoying it or something. So yesterday I was only sixty-some pages into ADIOS, NIRVANA, and I was reading at my desk (I am a teacher in the daytime life and a writer in the “mystical trough”), propping myself up with caffeine since I had stayed up way too late reading the night before, and I was like okay, that’s it. I’m changing my lesson plan.
My 8th graders had been flailing about at the mere suggestion of poetry, and it just so happened we were reading some Whitman — “I Hear America Singing”, among others — and so I said everyone stop! and I read to them from your book. I read the part about Jonathan at the hospice and his Whitman “patter”, and I read them the jagged glass butterflies scene, and then pretty soon we had some Bukowski up on the board and I read it and we argued and maybe a few kids kind of pretended they weren’t into it, but they were. And then pretty soon we were listening to Eddie Vedder read Kerouac’s “Hymn” on the tribute CD and then we read some Ferlinghetti and then it was time to go, but by this time they were all lining up to get a look at how to spell your name and what exactly the title of your book was and signing up to read my copy as soon as I was through.
And now I’m home, and I’ve completely ignored my family in order to finish, and…I was swept away, that’s all. So thanks!
Elissa Janine Hoole is a YA (Young Adult) writer, a teacher, a mama, a wallflower, a word-eater, a poet, a terrible cook. She’s represented by Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency, and her debut for teens, KISS THE MORNING STAR, will be published by Marshall Cavendish in Spring 2012.