Monday, December 9, 2013

Author Interview: A. J. Paquette

Today, I am happy to have A.J. Paquette on the blog to do an interview with me! A.J. is the author of Paradox, released by Random House in June. Hope you enjoy the interview!

Hi A.J. !
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for me! I’m so excited to have you here!

I’m so glad to be here—thanks for having me!

First, tell us something about Paradox we should know before reading it that we won’t get from the description.

One different thing about PARADOX is that I wrote it in 3rd person, present tense, which is admittedly an unusual storytelling voice. I put a lot of thought into whether I should shift to a more traditional voice, knowing that it could give readers pause. But ultimately, I stayed with this medium because it felt like the single best way to convey Ana’s dissociated sense of self, her sense of isolation and the feeling of being adrift within her own mind. So, you may find PARADOX is a somewhat different read than many typical novels, but I’m hopeful that it works for readers in the way that was intended.

You’ve written a wide variety of books (YA, MG, and picture books) which do you feel comes more naturally to you? Which do you enjoy the most? Which is the most difficult?

I think middle-grade might be my most comfortable writing voice; it’s what comes most naturally when I sit down to write. And YA, conversely, tends to be more of a challenge. With that said, one of my big enjoyments in writing is playing around with different styles, ideas, and voices; I wouldn’t change that aspect of it for anything. Whether I’m writing heartfelt contemporary realism or fast-paced sf action or rhyming toddler bedtime stories, every age group and genre presents its own challenges and its own rewards. And I personally think the enjoyment of finding just the right medium to explore the ideas and characters and stories I went to tell is the best thing of all.

Avid readers’ books tend to change quite frequently (at least mine do!) What’s your favorite book right now?

My most recent book crush is Rae Carson’s CROWN OF EMBERS. This is the sequel to 2011’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, and the third and final book in the series came out this year (though I haven’t read it yet. I can’t wait!). I found EMBERS especially well-crafted—toe-curling romance, tight plot, phenomenal world building. The whole package!

I believe all writers have something they want readers to take away from their books. What do you want readers to take away from yours?

Ohh, what a good question! The biggest reward for me as a writer is that moment when the readers find themselves in a book I’ve written. I want to tell a great story, sure, to carry the recipient away from their everyday life for a few hours, to paint a world so rich that it lingers in the imagination after the last page. But the biggest joy for me is still that breathtaking moment of discovery, when a child, teen, or adult reader looks down at the page and finds something that makes the world shift just a little; that makes the world look, even for an instant, completely brand new.

What’s the most challenging part of being a writer for you?

I am one of those authors who doesn’t write full-time, and on any given day I’m juggling what can seem like a hundred different balls at once. So I think for me the biggest challenge is consistency, keeping up with the writing alongside everything else. Ideas are plentiful; it’s tying yourself down to that writing chair and forcing the ideas out of your brain through your fingers so they can get to the world—that’s the real accomplishment.  

Tell us one totally random thing about yourself!  (Please!)

I have a hyper-aware body clock, and can make myself wake up at any given time (morning or naptime) by telling myself that I’ll do so. It works TO THE MINUTE. I do use an alarm for flights, just to be safe, but I always wake up before it rings.

This or that:
Coke or Pepsi  I don’t really care for either, but Coke if I have to choose
Chocolate or Vanilla Chocolate
Early Bird or Night Owl Early bird to the max!
Harry Potter or Twilight Harry Potter
Answer to Previous or The Hunger Games Hunger Games!
Vampires or Werewolves Mmm, neither? (With the exception of the vampires in Sarah Beth Durst’s DRINK, SLAY, LOVE, which were awesome J)
Zombies or Unicorns Unicorns
Twitter or Facebook Do I have to choose? They both fill different needs for me.
Ebook or print PRINT FOREVER!



Random House Books for Young Readers, June 2013

She wakes up in a rocket on an alien planet with no idea who she is, or where, or why. The letter in her pocket gives her one simple message: “Experience. Discover. Survive.” The timer on her wrist is counting down to zero. And the earth-shaking rumble in the distance sends the clear message: Something is coming. If you like your science fiction fast-paced and your main character conflicted, get ready for a plot-twisting, mind-bending read like no other!


I have been writing stories since early childhood. My sister and I would spend hours creating masterpieces of stapled paper and handwritten words, complete with pen-and-ink covers and boxed illustrations. Probably my favorite part of the process was creating a list for the back cover: "Don’t miss the other books in this series!" That list of eye-catching titles always seemed like way less work than (hand) writing out a whole book. But isn’t that just the way of things?

The road to publication was long and winding, peppered with many small successes including: a variety of national magazine publications, being a 2005 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award honoree, and receiving the 2008 SCBWI’s Susan Landers Glass Scholarship Award, for the book that would later become Nowhere Girl. My first picture book, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, was published in 2009.

I now live with my husband and two daughters in the Boston area, where I continue to write books for children and young adults. I am also an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency (but that’s a story for another day). What more do you want to know?

I am... mother, friend, reader, traveler, food-lover, chocolate connoisseur.
I am not... especially tidy, a fan of mushy vegetables, or good at coming up with spur-of-the-moment self-portraits.

Learn more about me here.


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