I love when I read a book that I know I’ll like but then end up loving. What I love even better is when I get to meet the author and she’s well, she’s just lovely. Such was the case with The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines and author Jo Ann Yhard. Jo Ann has a new YA, Lost on Brier Island, coming out on Monday and it’s one of my top “OMG I HAVE to read it” books of the spring. So I was very happy and honoured to get the chance to pick at Jo Ann’s brain and ask her some questions.
Lavender Lines: Hiya Jo Ann! Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions. You always hear from musicians that the hardest album to write and record is the sophomore offering. Do you think it’s the same for writers?
Jo Ann Yhard: I think it could be, for the second in a series. While Lost on Brier Island is my second published book, it’s very different from my first one, The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. It has a few similarities – heavy on dialogue and action, but it’s not a mystery and there are different characters. I actually found Lost easier to write. I was learning a lot with Fossil Hunter, since it was my first novel attempt, and it went through many changes. Not that you ever stop learning, but everything flowed much better from the beginning in Lost.
LL: What was it in particular that made you want to write Lost on Brier Island?
JY: The main character, Alex, was one that stayed with me from an earlier unpublished project. She wouldn’t go away. So I finally had to listen to what she had to say. The setting came later. I love the ocean, and I fell in love with Brier Island when James and I went there whale watching. It’s a magical place.
LL: Do you have certain music or artists that get you in the writing mood?
JY: I think it’s more my mood in general, rather than a writing mood specifically. I love listening to Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman some days, and other times I could be cranking up The Doors.
LL: Which do you find more challenging: getting out that first draft or editing?
JY: Hands down, the editing. It feels more like work to me. The first draft is an adventure! I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I am on the discovering journey along with my characters.
LL: Your writer’s beverage of choice: tea or coffee?
JY: I was always a coffee drinker, but was never much of a coffee lover – it was a habit. I’ve switched to teas now, the decaffeinated kind. I can’t believe I’m saying that out loud – on paper. I used to be exactly like one of the characters in Lost on Brier Island, crusty old fisherman Gus, who likes his tea “leaded, none of that herb crap!” All time favourite? Chai latte at Starbucks!
LL: What’s next on your writing agenda?
JY: I’m about halfway through the first draft of Buried Secrets at Louisbourg, another book with The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines characters. It’s from Fred’s point of view this time, and takes place during a grand encampment at The Fortress of Louisbourg. It’s another Atlantic Canada setting. That seems to be a bit of a trademark for me so far. I love showcasing all the amazing places we have here. I was at the Fortress many times, and was excited at having the characters camp there over a weekend. The readers get to explore the Fortress along with them. And yes, it’s a mystery, of course!
Thanks so much Jo Ann! Always great chatting with you.