Monday, January 4, 2016

Soar by Joan Bauer

I am truly honored to welcome Newbery Honor author Joan Bauer to Watch. Connect. Read. She dropped by to share a bonus robot-themed book trailer for Soar and to chat with me about school libraries and reading. I wrote the words in orange, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Joan! 

The two book trailers for Soar were such fun to do. I worked with a talented director in LA who captured the sense of the story, the characters, the place. The process stirred all my training as a screenwriter.  To this day when I write a book I see it, I hear it, I move with it.  And a book trailer is so much about what you choose to tell without giving the story away. This robot video was always in the back of my head. It doesn’t give you any plot, but it does show you the relationship between Jeremiah and his robot Jerwal that he built with his dad Walt, a computer genius. For both of the trailers the director auditioned several actors and he and I chose from the audition tapes. I learned that making these trailers was a bit like writing a novel in that we started with more than we needed and then, with great feedback from Penguin Random and others, the trailers were shortened. Honestly, I didn’t see how anything could be cut, but it was fascinating how a tweak here, a speed-up in action there, made the difference. I’ve never worked on a book trailer before, but I’m now a rabid fan of the form.  What a way to reach out to readers.   

Jeremiah is, honestly, carved from my heart.  I’ve been developing his character on and off for over ten years.  What took me so long?  I didn’t have the right story for him.  I wrote him as a baby, I wrote him as a teenager, I even wrote him as an adult, always as a secondary character in a story.  None of it fully worked; I thought he might be one of those characters who wouldn’t go the distance, but my daughter Jean, always fascinated by Jeremiah, has said to me over the years, “You have to give him his own story, Mom.”  I didn’t think I had that story in me for a long time.  But I couldn’t forget him, and he wouldn’t let me. Abandoned as a baby, challenged with a heart problem, needing a heart transplant at age 10. Nothing like the other kids, crazy smart, crazy about baseball, but can’t play the game. He has the spirit of an adventurer, and he’s funny.  He lives in a house with robots darting all around; he talks to them. He knows he’s different (“It takes time for people to get used to me...”), he knows what he’s gone through has made him resilient, and he wants to help people be the best they can be.  That’s in his blood.  I love people who refuse to let huge problems stop them.  Writing Jeremiah Lopper gave me hope. He’s not just a survivor, he’s an over-comer with the heart of an eagle.  This boy flies higher than the storm.

I hope Soar will give people joy and courage. I hope it will help people say no to the naysayers and discouragers in life...and shout another loud no to cheating and hypocrisy. I hope it will help people think about the deepest parts of their hearts.   I hope this story will make people laugh! I hope more people will fall in love with baseball. I hope it will cause people to be angry in new, transforming ways about performance enhancing drugs. I hope the novel will get more girls out there playing hardball. I hope adults and kids will start playing catch and then want to build robots -- because everyone really needs a robot. I hope it will speak to every “eagle” reader out there and say, Yeah, that’s you. You can soar!

School libraries are...  
       Birthing rooms.
       Think tanks.
       Talent hotbeds.
       The best gathering places...

 I can still draw the layout of my school library down to the corner where I sat next to the window.  That’s where I went to find things out.  That’s where I learned to visit the world.  

Reading is like oxygen to me. I treasure my books, the memories of loved stories, I have the storytellers’ DNA...stories and reading are intertwined in the structure of my being.

Borrow Soar from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great interview! I've been a big Bauer fan since Squashed and Thwonk, which still circulate well in my library. Can't wait to read Soar.