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21 July 2011

(Blog Tour) Author Interview: Janet Ruth Young (THE BABYSITTER MURDERS)

Janet Ruth Young, who lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, graduated from Salem State College and from the creative writing program at Boston University. She was a co-editor of the literary magazine stet and a founder of Writers' Circle, the writing workshop at the Cambridge Women's Center. Her travel articles and book and theater reviews have appeared in The Boston Globe and other local publications. She left her job as an editor at a publishing company to write The Opposite of Music.

The Opposite of Music, published in 2007 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon & Schuster, garnered enthusiastic reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, The Denver Post, The Boston Globe, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, and the website TeensReadToo. It won the PEN New England Discovery Award and was a Book Sense Pick, a Borders Original Voices selection, and an American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults nominee. A paperback edition was released in May 2008.

Janet's second novel, The Babysitter Murders, about a babysitter who has thoughts of harming the child she cares for, will be published in July 2011.

Janet has appeared as a featured speaker at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Library Association, on the cable TV program The Writer's Block with John Ronan, and on the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance's Real Recovery Podcasts.

In THE BABYSITTER MURDERS, what character was the hardest for you to write?
Malcolm Pinto needed special tending. I had to make sure he had sufficient motivation to respond to Dani the way he does. His behavior toward her stems from his idolization of his father. To still be obsessed with Dani when others have moved on, Malcolm has to believe Dani ruined the paradise he built with his dad. And despite Michael’s and Malcolm’s frequent references to the physical attributes of this or that girl or woman, the paradise they’ve created excludes women. The father/son relationship in this novel was really satisfying for me to develop, and I hope readers and reviewers pick up on it.

If you could choose a soundtrack for THE BABYSITTER MURDERS, what are the top three songs you would pick?
I’d like “Trouble Child” by Joni Mitchell when Dani is running along the Charles River in Boston, hiding behind sunglasses and a big hat. The Hawtones (the high school a cappella group in the book) could rehearse the Doris Day classic “Secret Love” with Shelley, who is just coming out as gay, singing lead. Several people in the group have crushes on others, so eye contact would be flying around the room. Very cinematic! And we would need some maddened, fast-paced background music representing Dani’s obsessive thoughts. Yesterday I heard a J.S. Bach partita for solo violin that would fit the bill.

Do you have any rituals you do when writing?
I have a beautiful study that I consider the most important room in the house. When I sit down to write I check my favorite websites (two e-mail accounts, Facebook, and The New York Times) one last time and then, if I’m worried about being distracted, I shut off the modem so I don’t go back to them again. I don’t answer the phone unless I know the person calling has a knack for keeping it brief. I also close the door, and my boyfriend, who lives with me, is not allowed to interrupt. If he’s home and hears the clacking of the keyboard he usually practices his guitar and does a great job of leaving me alone. There’s enough activity on the street (I live close to our local high school, the train station, and a free meals program) and in the tree outside my window (ornamental cherry blossoms, cedar waxwings, butterflies) to provide stimulation without true interruption.

What author and/or book has most influenced you?
When I decided that The Babysitter Murders would have a tight, complicated, and suspenseful plot, I thought immediately of Tom Perrotta’s book Little Children. Like my story, his has a character who’s considered sick and evil and a police character who’s determined to protect others from that person. I also thought of House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, which features a squickily inappropriate police character. Both books do a great job of making the characters collide in a way that seems inevitable.

Are you working on a writing project now? If so, can you share with us what it is?
I’m working on a third book to be published by Atheneum. It’s YA, first person, present tense; it deals with another mental illness; and it follows a couple of the same characters I wrote about in my first two books as well as introducing a whole new environment and a bunch of new teen characters.


AUTHOR BIO courtesy of Janet Ruth Young's WEBSITE.

I received an electronic copy of THE BABYSITTER MURDERS as part of a blog tour arranged by TEEN BOOK SCENE

For more information on THE BABYSITTER MURDERS, author Janet Ruth Young and her writing, visit her WEBSITE.

Find THE BABYSITTER MURDERS at your local indie bookstore.


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