I first became acquainted with her through her book,
PAY IT FORWARD, which I read some years ago. If the title sounds familiar--and you’re not sure you've read the book--it’s maybe because you saw the movie version starring Helen Hunt, Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment.
In either case, the theme of the story is as unusual as it is inspiring. It’s about repaying good deeds forward--with the new good deeds delivered to new people. And ever since becoming acquainted with this concept, I can say that whenever I’ve been the recipient of a random act of kindness, I have paid it forward. This is one story that stuck with me.
So let's start there, talking about PAY IT FORWARD.
Tina: I read the idea for PAY IT FORWARD came from your own personal life. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Catherine: Well, this is not the answer you're expecting, but...no. Actually. I can't. You see, it was the constant retelling of that story that drove me to complete burnout. I no longer speak on behalf of the Pay It Forward concept because, after more than nine years of telling the same stories and answering the same questions, I just hit a wall. But I understand people's curiosity, and I know they still want to know (and, as many times as I've told the story, there are those who still haven't heard it). So here's what I did. I edited down a nice little 5- or 6-minute film of me telling the story. Anyone can view it on my website. Here is the link and there are a couple other Pay-It-Forward related videos out there that people might like.
Tina: You're right, I didn’t expect that answer, but I sure liked it! Now, did you have anything to do with the film, work on the screenplay, get to go to the set?
Catherine: I'm lucky they let me READ the screenplay. I actually got a copy direct from the screenwriter, Leslie Dixon. Because she took a liking to me for some crazy reason. Nowhere in the contract does it say I even get to read it.
I did get to go to the set one day. A bit late in the filming, when it was clear that I was one of those authors who "gets it." You know. That I knew I wasn't coming to the set as a consultant or anything. But one of the producers asked me if I wanted to visit for a day and meet Kevin Spacey. Uh. (Duh.) Yeah.
Tina: Okay, now at the risk of sounding like a total rock-and-roll fangirl, Jon Bon Jovi was in the movie, too. Did you get to meet him?
Catherine: I did meet him. He was wearing a tooled leather belt with the name Ricky (his character) carved into it. It was one of those weird moments when the story I'd created seemed to have come to life in a way I could barely comprehend. Years later, I think about 2006, I got an email from my Doubleday publisher, and she said Jon Bon Jovi had been in her office (I think she was going to publish his autobiography at that time) and that my name had come up. I guess he'd said he admired my work. Of course, I was completely blown away. “Oh, yeah, Jon Bon Jovi and I were just talking about you the other day.” Sure, that's my life. Not.
Tina: Jumping ahead to your YA latest novel, THE DAY I KILLED JAMES. What we can expect from your characters?
Catherine: Theresa is an eighteen-year-old girl who blames herself for the suicide of a young man who loved her. She didn't hurt him with malice aforethought, but she did hurt him. On the same night he drove his motorcycle off a cliff. So you can expect her to wither under the burden of her own crushing guilt. And to run away from everything she thinks of as comprising herself. And to try never to let anybody close enough to get hurt again. But since she's one of my characters, you can expect her to climb her way out of that self-made prison (one of my characters in one of my unpublished novels once remarked that a prison is a prison regardless of its builder). She does this with the help of an 11-year-old girl who sticks to her like a piece of gum on the bottom of her shoe, but who ultimately helps her turn around them both around.
Tina: What's up next? Do you have another project in the works?
Catherine: I always have another project in the works. Except when I have two or three.
This summer Knopf will release my next YA book, Diary of a Witness. It's slightly different, in that it involves two teenage boy characters. Our protagonist, Ernie, (who is more than 100 pounds overweight) is an outcast, and so is his best (and only) friend Will. But Ernie has a mom who, though a bit hysterical, loves him. He also has his Uncle Max as a leveling figure. But Will's home life is falling apart and so is he, and he is about to take matters into his own hands regarding the popular jocks who torment them daily. And poor Ernie may be the only one who can prevent disaster.
I also have a new adult novel that is not yet under contract here in the US, but which is soon to be released by Transworld, my UK publisher (things are actually much better for my career over there). I hope that I will soon be able to say it has a US publisher as well.
And I'm very pleased to announce my newest forthcoming YA, Jumpstart the World, about a teenage girl who falls in love with her older next door neighbor before realizing he is transgender (female to male in transition). It's tentatively slated for Fall 2010 from Knopf.
I have another new YA on my editor's desk right now, waiting to be read. But it's too early to spill the beans about that.
Tina: Wonderful! Last up, I want to mention that one of our Buzz Girls, Marley Gibson, just took up scuba diving at the age of 42. I know you’re an avid kayaker. Is this something you’ve done most of your life or something you picked up as an adult?
Catherine: As a matter of fact, yes, I picked it up as an adult. I began kayaking in '04. And I began aggressive peak hiking in about '02. When I was young I pretty much failed gym. So you really can come from behind. It's never too late unless you decide it is and believe it.
Tina: I couldn’t agree more!
Thanks to the fascinating Catherine Ryan Hyde for visiting with us today, and I recommend all our readers check out her books! In fact, one lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to receive a signed first edition of PAY IT FORWARD, so leave a comment to be entered!
Winners of all our week's giveaways will be posted at week's end!
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Monday, June 15, 2009
Welcome, Catherine Ryan Hyde!
I am very pleased to introduce Catherine Ryan Hyde to our Buzz Girl Readers!