About the book:
Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared. His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.
Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind "The Incident With the Landry Boy."
Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette's latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.
What she doesn't realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret.
An Interview with Saundra Mitchell:
Me: What were your favorite books (or types of books) as a teen, and what was it about them that appealed to you? What, on the other hand, would make you put a book down?
Saundra: When I was a teen, I was all about Lois Duncan, Stephen King, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Annette Curtis Klause, VC Andrews... I loved (I still love!) horror, almost horror, and pretty much anything
But I also enjoyed books that reassured me. Yes, the world is messed up, and you're not the only one who realizes that--books like S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS and Katherine Paterson's BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and George Orwell's 1984.
And while they may not seem like they have anything in common--I was drawn then, and I'm still drawn, to stories about damaged, broken people just trying to survive.
The quickest way to turn me off? Lie to me. Nothing was worse than a book that was all unrealistic optimism and platitudes!
Me: Have your reading tastes stayed the same, or have you discovered new loves and peeves (and if so, what are they)?
Saundra: There's more room for fantasy on my bookshelves now--not every book has to be the trashy or dead-serious end of the world anymore. However, now I find myself annoyed when 16 year old protagonists only listen to 20 year old pop music, which I'm pretty sure I never noticed when I was a teen. Sorry, author- you're intruding!
Me: Did you draw on any people/places/experiences from your life while writing?
Saundra: I can tell you that my mother used to fry green peppers and onions in our kitchen when I was little, and she had a red scarf she wore to hold back her hair, and that's a rich and pleasant memory for me. No doubt, that's why Iris remembers her mother's red dress; that's why Daddy makes green peppers and onions for dinner.
There are concrete examples that came directly from my life, but you know, all of it came from my life. Every character is just a version of me, trying to work out the answer to the one question I can never completely satisfy:
Me: What was the most exciting moment during the publishing process? The scariest?
Saundra: Well, it turns out that the scariest part is the last month before launch. I've had some premium nightmares about going to the store to find another book inside my book jacket! But you know, that's been a pretty exciting part--not the nightmares, but the ramping up to the moment when I am officially, really, truly, incontrovertibly a published author!
Me: What are you working on now?
Saundra: It's a secret! Hopefully I can spill soon!!
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Saundra! More interviews to come in a couple weeks. :)