Thursday, June 4, 2009

Artists in My Book / *Jay Asher* Interview

The first time I met New York Times bestselling author, Jay Asher, he was dressed as a mermaid.

We met in Los Angeles at the SCBWI 2005 National Conference Beach Bash party. Jay's writing pals, Robin and Eve, were mermaids too. A few months later they started blogging together as the Disco Mermaids. The trio had just won first place in the party's costume contest.

Shiny and glittery Melanie and Disco Mermaids Jay, Eve and Robin.

I believe in lucky omens. Having just marched in my first Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn, I swam over to my west coast counterparts and took a photo for book research.

The Disco Mermaids L to R: Jay, Eve, Robin in MERMAIDS ON PARADE.

Jay and I still cross paths from time to time. His first published YA novel, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, published by Razorbill, Penguin USA, was in progress in 2005. Now the book is a big hit!

Jay kindly took time to answer my interview questions.

Q: Why were you in a mermaid costume and make-up? 
JA: We were attending a conference for children's book writers and illustrators.  Every year, that conference has a theme party.  That year, the theme was a Beach Bash.  My two friends and I liked to dress up in similar costumes each year, so we went to a costume shop in the hopes of finding three similar beach-related costumes.  The only thing they had three of were mermaid costumes, so that's what we dressed as.  And, in the costume contest, we won first place! 
Q: Why do mermaids hold such fascintation? 
JA: I think it has to do with childhood fantasies.  When I was a kid, I loved wolves and running out in nature, so werewolves have always been fascinating to me.  A lot of kids love swimming and ocean animals like dolphins, seahorses, and starfish.  Mermaids are these semi-human beings who get to swim all day with those animals.  How cool would that be!  Plus, mermaids are usually portrayed as very beautiful. 

Thanks, Jay!


Photo and Image: Melanie Hope Greenberg. Copyright 2008

No comments: