50 more days until TBF! Yay! I recently got a chance to chat to Joelle Charbonneau, author of The Testing series.
Miranda Reads: What was your inspiration for writing The Testing series?
Joelle Charbonneau: THE TESTING concept came out of my work with my voice students. For years, I’ve worked closely with my private voice students as they navigate the testing, application and audition process required to be accepted into college. The pressure on our high school students is greater than ever before. The need to be better and brighter than the other applicants has never been more keenly felt. Students are hyper aware that every answer they give could impact the quality of their future. Some of my students handle the pressure better than others and it is never easy to see a student falter. The teacher and parent in me can’t help but be worried that the benchmark of success has risen too high and that soon it will be more than our youth can handle. The writer couldn’t help but wonder how much worse the process could become and what tests a future world might want to institute in order to select the next generation of leaders. And thus The Testing was born.
MR: What made you decide to go from opera/theater to writing?
JC: I don't know that was a real decision. It just kind of happened. I was doing dinner theater here in Chicago when I had an idea for the first line of a book. I'd never done any writing outside of school, but I have always been a huge reader. So, on my days off I decided to see if I could write the book I had the idea for. I never dreamed that I would eventually be published or shift my story telling from the stage to the page. I just wanted to see if I could get to The End. That first book was terrible, but I was fascinated by the challenge of writing. Somehow along the way, I started performing less and writing more. I guess it goes to show you never know where life is going to take you.
MR: Pick one: living in the world of the Hunger Games or the world of Divergent?
JC: That seems like a trick question - do I get to pick where I live in those worlds? Regardless, I'm going for Hunger Games because while things are scary there, I think I might have a better chance of surviving there. I'd probably end up Factionless in Divergent and that doesn't seem like a whole lot of fun!
MR: One of your five fun facts says that you sang for President Clinton. That must have been quite the experience.
JC: I sang for him about 2 weeks after 9-11, which was both surreal and terrifying. I've sung in a lot of shows and for dozens of critics, but singing the National Anthem for a former president brings new meaning to the words stage fright. I was certain I was going to forget the words, especially when I saw him sitting ten feet away. Turns out, I remembered the words and got a chance to speak with President Clinton for a few minutes before the Secret Service whisked him away.
MR: Let's pretend you're on the talent competition show, America's Got Talent. What talent would you perform?
JC: Um....I'm a professionally trained music theater and opera singer. People would expect me to sing something totally proper. So, I think I'd love to bust out some Adele and shock everyone by doing it well. (Of course, if I crash and burn that would defeat the purpose. Oh well!)
MR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 9th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
JC: Jay Asher! I gave Thirteen Reasons Why to my nephew for Christmas and am going to be a total rockstar in my nephew's eyes after I get to say I met him.
Thanks Joelle! See you in May!
That's all for today! Check back for more book reviews and author interviews!