About Lizard Radio:
Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you?people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift—the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the “knowings” inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her? A coming-of-age story rich in friendships and the shattering emotions of first love, this deeply felt novel will resonate with teens just emerging as adults in a sometimes hostile world.
We are excited to welcome Pat Schmatz to Kid Lit Frenzy. Thank you Pat for sharing your creative process during the writing of Lizard Radio.
It was winter in Wisconsin, snow-deep and long dark days. I was grinding my way through the third draft of Lizard Radio – or maybe the fourth. I had the characters and the setting down (the fun parts) but the plot was elusive. I had decided that for once in my life, I was actually going to follow advice and have a book with rising action, a crisis and climax and denouement, just like you see in the graphs. I was using Martha Alderson’s book The Plot Whisperer to help fit my mish-mash of characters and scenes and feelings and dialogues into a story with a shape and a resolution. I found it very, very difficult.
I was at my very small town’s local library working on a computer. Well, not really working. More like staring at the screen. I don’t even remember why I was there. But in my staring, I noticed the row of CDs stacked on the shelf above the computer desk. One of them was John Coltrane. I’d never listened to any of his music, but on a whim I checked the CD out and took it home with me.
It was an odd whim, because I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to music, and not particularly adventuresome. But I did it without thinking. I couldn’t even tell you which album it was, but that CD immediately spoke to the lizard in me and I played it constantly for a few days. Then I downloaded Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and put it on my iPod.
For weeks, I followed the same routine. I went outside at daybreak to cross-country ski. Then I came inside, put on Coltrane, and played solitaire. I might do that for an hour before I started writing. His music is so non-linear and such a breakaway from predictable form that it set something loose in the depths of my brain. I felt like it was carrying out a secret subterranean design while the front of my brain was busy with linear questions about plot and my hands were busy with black-red and numbers. Then when I’d sit down at the computer, the words and images flowed.
Sometimes I’d put Coltrane on at night as I was going to sleep and listen to him all night. The sheets of sound, the rise and fall, the struggle and beat were in my head all the time as I worked through that revision, and by spring I had an actual story with a plot.
The process reminded me that the world is full of art, and each new creation enters the world by riding the waves of those who have come before – whatever the medium. As a writer, it’s my job to stay open to the world and move with the currents that connect me to the other arts. They fill my stories out and give them depth and flavor.
I don’t know what Lizard Radio would have been without John Coltrane, but it would not have been the same book.
About the author:
Pat Schmatz is the author of Bluefish, which garnered three starred reviews and about which School Library Journal said has “all the hallmarks of a classic.” About Lizard Radio, the author says, “I keep a notepad with sketches and ideas, and one day, a lonely lizard wearing headphones came out of my pencil. When I tuned in, I found this story.” Pat Schmatz lives in Wisconsin.
Website: www.patschmatz.com Twitter: @schmatz5
Check out the other stops on the blog tour:
Monday, August 31, 2015 YA Book Central
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 The Pirate Tree
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 Teen Reads
Thursday, September 3, 2015 The Children's Book Review
Friday, September 4, 2015 Kid Lit Frenzy
Saturday, September 5, 2015 The Book Rat
Monday, September 7, 2015 Swoony Boys Podcast
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 Gay YA
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