The Literary Road Trip is a project in which bloggers are volunteering to showcase local authors. This showcase can be anything you want to make of it – book reviews, author interviews, giveaways – as long as you’re working with an author local to you.
Lorie Ann Grover began her artistic career as a dancer, until she literally outgrew her passion – she became too tall to dance professionally. The dance world’s loss was children’s literature’s gain, as Lorie Ann turned her artistic focus to children’s and YA books. She has written and illustrated numerous children’s books, and has written three YA novels in free verse. She is also one of the founders of readergirlz web site. Lorie lives with her family in Sumner, Washington.
On Pointe: For as long as she can remember, Clare and her family have had a dream: Someday Clare will be a dancer in City Ballet Company. For ten long years Clare has been taking ballet lessons, watching what she eats, giving up friends and a social life, and practicing until her feet bleed – all for the sake of that dream. And now, with the audition for City Ballet Company right around the corner, the dream feels so close.
But what if the dream doesn’t come true? The competition for the sixteen spots in the company is fierce, and many won’t make it. Talent, dedication, body shape, size – everything will influence the outcome. Clare’s grandfather says she is already a great dancer, but does she really have what it takes to make it into the company? And if not, then what?
Loose Threads: Seventh grader Kay Garber’s happy home is made up of four generations of women: Great Gran Eula; Grandma Margie; Kay’s mother, Karine; and Kay. But on the evening Grandma Margie tells her family she has a lump in her breast, Kay’s world is changed forever.
Struggling with issues of popularity in junior high school, trying to understand her too-perfect mother, dealing with her feelings about friends, and coming to terms with Grandma Margie’s cancer diagnosis and illness, Kay is awhirl with questions that have no easy answers. But Kay is a survivor, and as she journeys through these difficult months she comes to a new understanding of the complexities and importance of faith and family.
Told through forthright and perceptive poems in Kay’s own voice, Loose Threads reverberates with emotion and depth and will leave no reader untouched.
Hold Me Tight: “I’m leaving.”
Dad’s words come as a complete shock to Essie. How can he just walk out on her and the family, especially when Mom is pregnant?
Essie keeps her dad’s leaving a secret. Then Essie’s classmate, Chris Crow, disappears, and everyone finds out he’s been kidnapped. Is Chris okay? Is Dad ever coming back? Essie is left to wonder if people really have any control over what happens in their lives.
Finally, after a startling incident with a family friend, Essie finds the strength to hold on tight to all that she has left — and in the process realizes that the bonds of love and family do hold a person together.
Inspired by true events, Hold Me Tight is a moving and powerful novel. An author’s note provides further information about kidnapping and the Amber Plan programs that are in use today to help communities find abducted children.
For more information on her art and writing and an in-depth bio, visit Lorie Ann Grover‘s web site.
I was fortunate to be able to interview Ms. Grover via e-mail:
The bio on your site says that your first artistic passion was ballet, and then you grew too tall to dance professionally. Can you talk about that experience – both the dancing and having to give it up – and how it shaped you as a person and as an artist?
Lorie: Absolutely, Carrie! I did dance for ten years and was a member of the Miami Ballet Company. Ballet was my complete focus. When I grew too tall, my dream crashed. This is actually why I wrote On Pointe. I wanted to explore how we dream again when we don’t reach goals for reasons we can’t control.
I was devastated, but I turned to visual art and then writing to continue to express myself. I believe ballet gave me the perseverance to keep trying through years and years of publishing rejection. One plie after another, everyday, produces a kind of resilience. I’m so thankful for those years of strict study.
You’ve written three novels in verse. Why verse? What unique challenges and benefits do you experience with writing in verse?
Lorie: Verse is usually how my thoughts pop out onto the page. Like photographs, the entries catch a moment in time. Verse is a great vehicle for emotion as the surrounding white space acts as a comfort and buffer for the reader.
A definite negative is that verse can be hard to sell initially to publishing houses and teens. Thankfully, the format is accepted, having received high awards, and it’s now been shown to be popular with teens by the excellent work of verse authors such as Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones!
What made you move to Washington State? What do you like about where you live?
Lorie: After the army placed us for our first year of marriage in Korea, my husband was transferred to Fort Lewis, in WA. We soon found a church and decided to make this our home when his military commitment ended.
I actually love the dark, rainy periods. They are so conducive to writing and reading. And then the contrast in a different kind of beauty is very evident when the sun shines. Growing up in Miami, FL, I love being near the ocean. Now it is close by, and yet, I’m sandwiched between two mountain ranges. Perfect!
As a nod to my surroundings, I set Hold Me Tight and Loose Threads in Miami. On Pointe is set in Sumner, WA.
Which writers have had the biggest impact on your life and your writing?
Lorie: I’d have to say Karen Hesse because of her work Out of the Dust. It is through her writing that I found the verse format. Most recently, Robert McKee has made a huge impact on me. His book Story has restructured and challenged my view of the novel.
What is the best book you’ve read this year so far?
Lorie: Ooooo. Not because she’s my partner at readergirlz and my friend, but honestly, Justina Chen’s novel North of Beautiful stands tall for my pick this year!
If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?
Lorie: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak jumps to my mind. I really believe it’s an outstanding, life work. I aspire to write so deeply!