Okay fellow followers! :) I just had the fortunate pleasure to interview Judy Hoffman, a new YA author, who's charmed readers with her debut novel The Art of Flying: a novel.
Before I get to her novel review, let me shed some light on the writer. Judy graciously agreed to answer some questions for me because I chose her novel to do as an in depth study for my graduate class at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (Go Hawks!) She's a rare writer, in the manner that she doesn't give in to the current hype for more sinister, dystopian, and darker literature. Judy wants her readers to walk away entertain, ready to explore their surroundings and hopeful for a little "accidental" magic coming soon to their bedroom via her book! When asked the question: How do you feel about tweens' obsession with technology, specifically how it hinders the creativity and bond children once shared with nature? She responded as follows:
I do love much about today’s technology. Kids can and do research constantly with the internet at their finger tips. I think from all their constant photo taking and chattering they have more poise and confidence than I did at their age. And of course, there’s the safety feature. Being able to call or text your child at any time is a game changer. It takes so much worry out of parenting. There are so many benefits to the social network, it just has to be tempered with real interaction. Like playing outside – which while not completely uncommon in my area, is always a pleasure to see. -Judy Hoffman
Furthermore, Judy even commented that she "was hesitant to even put a cell phone in the book!" She wanted to have the characters interact with a "walkie-talkie!" Seriously, she's a writer after my own heart; I begged my parents for a walkie-talkie set for my brothers and me, but I never saw it under the Christmas tree! Thanks Mom and Dad!
Ahem...sorry for the digression. Now back to the interview. Judy went on to discuss how she's amazed when she sees kids outside playing. She remarked that she finds herself "staring in awe at them!" Additionally, she feels that children don't go out into nature to explore and create anymore. She intentionally moved to an area surrounded by trees, just so her children can share the connection from her childhood when her mother took her into the forest to investigate! Don't you just love an author that intentionally embraces their inner Thoreau?
Lastly, Judy's one of those authors that want to connect with her readers in the easiest manner. Though she usually opposes too much technology, she does recognize its benefits. She hopes to incorporate an online book club so that she can discuss and collaborate with YA readers about what they like to read and their general interests! Talk about going to the horses mouth for ideas for her next novel!
As you can probably tell, I enjoyed Judy's novel. Her heroine main character, Fortuna Dalliance, is on a quest to help her strange new friend, Martin, return back to his natural state: A BIRD, before the evil Arrakis (an owl that was changed into a human along with Martin, who should have been a hawk in his natural state instead of an owl! Owls are sweet predators!) Nevertheless, with the help of witches, spells and good ol' fashion ingenuity, Fortuna challenges her deepest desire (to fly), saves her new friend and learns that there are some naughty and nice creatures of the sky and earth!
Give this book to a girl, who daydreams, or a boy, who builds model planes. Regardless, this read's sure to entice the imagination of most tweens! Bravo, Mrs. Hoffman for a job well done! :)