Monday, June 20, 2011

GRAFFITI WALL: Author Christine Fonseca

Since the GRAFFITI WALL burst into the blogosphere a little over a year ago, an array of Young Adult and Middle Grade authors have shared themselves with us. We've even had an Adult author. (I'm on the hunt for a few illustrators willing to share their thoughts. If any of you know an illustrator or are one yourself, please contact me. :D)

Although today's guest does write young adult literature, I'm excited to welcome her as our first author of non-fiction.

Color Author pic - med.JPG
Author, Christine Fonseca

What made you want to start writing professionally?

The idea to write a book started more than 5 years ago, but it wasn’t until May 2008 that I was serious about writing something that could be published. I started planning to write a nonfiction book about giftedness, the book that turned into EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS, actually. However, somewhere between deciding to write that book and actually writing it, I was overtaken by many voices in my head – voices that had stories to tell and were DEMANDING my attention. So, instead of writing the nonfiction book, I sat down and wrote a novel. In 3 weeks. For that moment on, I was hooked on writing and determined to see at least one of my books on a shelf somewhere.

The infamous head chatter of a writer. On occasion, it does come in handy. :)

101SS.jpg101 SUCCESSFUL SECRETS for GIFTED KIDS (released May 2011) is your fantastic nonfiction book, chalk full of suggestions and advice for kids ages 8 - 12. What motivated you to gather all this information and compile it into a book?

This book is my second nonfiction book, and definitely the one I am most proud of to date. The original idea came from two conversations – one with my agent at the time, and one with a close personal friend. Through these two conversations came the ideas for a book for children about dealing with giftedness, one that included advice FROM gifted kids TO gifted kids. The end result is more than I’d ever hoped for.

What do you see as the greatest challenge, today, for kids of that age?

Resiliency, hands down – that ability to recover after a setback; to feel like you have some mastery over your environment, are connected to a group of people that will support you and have the ability to monitor and adjust your own emotional reactivity. Yep, resiliency is THE thing in the shortage supply for our children these days, in my opinion. As I work with various schools, and talk with kids and parents on a global level, I would also venture to say this is not a uniquely American problem.

Being a school psychologist must have its challenges as sure as its rewards. How do you think Young Adult and Middle Grade literature can be used to help, encourage, and inform kids of these ages?

I love this question. I think there is great power in the written word to help kids connect and feel less alone during middle childhood and young adulthood. Issue books like SPEAK can help children connect and process their own pain, or open their eyes to some of the things our youth may be going through; great dystopian and paranormal reads enable them to escape. Furthermore, books can sometimes bridge the gap for our more introverted kids.

That said, because books have great power, parents MUST be involved. I love most of the YA literature that is available today, but there are subject matters I may not be ready to have my child read. By staying informed and connected to my child’s interests and book choices, I can help guide and coach her when it comes to making good book choices or dealing with difficult subject matter.

emotional-intensity-3.jpgIn October of 2010, you also released EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS. Tell us a bit about this resource.

This is my first published book, and the book I set out to write originally. It is a resource for both parents and educators on the emotional aspects of giftedness. Covering both the what and the what now, this book provides practical strategies that enable parents and teachers to coach gifted children into a deeper understanding of their giftedness and the emotions that are a natural aspect of that giftedness.

Signature Graffiti Wall question: You're alone in your car waiting to pick someone up. Do you: 

A) turn on the radio
B) talk or check emails on your phone
C) eat red licorice you found in the glove box
D) read and/or formulate a new story?

HA! You left off all of the above! Being a dedicated “swim” and “band” mom, I spent a lot of time waiting to pick up my children and taxing them somewhere else. Given that I also work a 40+ hr/wk job AND try to write regularly, I have to make use of every spare minute. So, I am typically listening to the radio and eating red vines while checking email and stewing over my latest book….all while waiting to taxing the kids around.

Yeah. Okay, award-winning answer!!

Your project entitled A BEAUTIFUL MESS, sounds amazing but so different from your nonfiction work. How was developing the structure of this book different?

A BEAUTIFUL MESS is a YA gothic romance that I spent the last year querying. After many near misses, I finally decided to shelve that particular novel, something many writers have to contemplate or do from time to time. My timing was just all wrong with the book and the marketplace.

And yes, that book is substantially different from my nonfiction for kids. Where my nonfiction is typically of the self-help/advice variety, my fiction falls within the YA genre, typically in urban fantasy, contemporary or gothic thriller – basically dark and psychological (yeah, call it a professional-hazard of the day job!).

Researching and plotting novels is a very different process for me; where nonfiction is as natural as breathing, fiction is slower and more deliberate. I am a “thinker”, so I outline, choose structure, symbolism, characters, and everything with painstaking thought. There is not a single word in my novels that aren’t there for a reason. That said, they NEVER start out that way. It takes many drafts, a whole lot of stewing and an open mind to finally emerge with the story I originally dreamed. My story structure is a natural development of the storyline and main character. Basically, I just see myself as the scribe for that character’s story. The structure that results is part of that same process.

Currently, I am working on another YA Gothic romance/psychological thriller  that is a retelling of sorts, about a boy, expectations, and madness. It’s a dark story and structured in a unique way – very different from any of my other works to date.

Ooh...that sounds right up  my alley and even the Alleyway! 

Could you share with us the most important writing advice you've been given? And your own?

Another great question. Hmm, there has been so much fabulous advice that I’ve been given on this journey. But, I think the one that has stuck with me and kept me going is something my CP shared with me when I first started out:

“Never give up.”

Those three words bounce around in my head whenever my finger gets a little too close to the delete button and I am convinced I will never figure my current project out.
As for my advice to others:

“They’re only words.”

I love both of them, but this last one is so true. It's amazing how different those little words sound when someone else speaks them.

It's been a pleasure, Christine. Thank you for sharing your splats with the GRAFFITI WALL.

School psychologist by day, YA and nonfiction author by night, Christine Fonseca believes that writing is a great way to explore humanity. Her books include EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS (2010) and 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS (2011). In addition to books about giftedness, Christine writes contemporary and fantasy fiction for teens. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing around on Facebook and Twitter. Catch her daily thoughts about writing and life on her blog.

Christine, has graced the Alleyway with not only her wisdom but a COPY of 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids as well as a First Five Page Critique (a work of fiction or non-fiction)! Want to be considered for either/or? Just fill out the FORM BELOW. The WINNERS will be announced on Friday, July 1st! Please Spread the word. 


  1. Great interview. I so agree with Christine that books like SPEAK can really help kids as well as being just a good story.

    Christine, your YA books sound great. Sorry you had to shelve the first one. But you never know, maybe the market will be better for it later. Thanks for all your great advice.

  2. Great advice. Never give up and they're just words. Perfect!

  3. Great interview!! I'll have to check out The Emotional Intensity book--all the kids I work with are emotionally intense (and under the age of 6), but some of them also have IQs a few standard deviations above the mean. It's an interesting combination!

  4. Great interview. Great advice, Christine. I will be thinking of that when I get to certain stressful points.

  5. Great interview. CPs give the best advice. Thanks, Christine, for sharing yours. :D

  6. what a fantastic interview- Great questions Sheri and I loved learning the story behind 101 Secrets for Gifted Kids. Your YA gothics sound fantastic too! Thanks for sharing Christine!

  7. Great interview, thanks! I've taught kids eventually considered geniuses but who had choked on standarized tests and gotten lost in the sub-system.

  8. Great interview. Best of luck to Christine!

  9. Great interview! I think your YAs sound awesome!

  10. Hi Christine and Sheri *waving* Great interview and Christine you are always so inspiring! Can't wait until that fiction is on the shelves too!

  11. Great interview. Hi Christine! *waves*
    I loved hearing about your novel writing process. We have a lot in common, there. Good luck with your WIP!

  12. Both the nonfiction book and the gothic thrillers sound really great! So many kids could benefit from a book such as yours. I witnessed kids in both therapeutic boarding schools and wilderness and many were highly gifted students, who couldn't cope.

  13. Excellent advice and a great interview! I loved it Christine. Your non-fiction if fantastic. You are such a huge help to so many. I'm looking forward to reading your fiction someday!

  14. Wonderful to hear more about Christine! Thanks Sheri!

  15. Christine, does that mean you think kids aren't as tough and able to handle things as they were in the past?

  16. Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. And thank you Sheri for the interview.
    Alex, I don't necessarily think that kids aren't as tough... I think the world has become more complex and noisy. And I think we have lost our way, somewhat, within that noise. We - aduts and kids - are less resilient, in my opinion.

  17. Red licorice, yum!

    Great interview, ladies. I definitely agree re: resilience!

  18. Christine - you're welcome! It's a pleasure to have you.

    Alex - great question. I'm no expert, but I do have four children ranging in age from high school to junior high to elementary school. I DO think that the kids (as the adults) sometimes get lost amidst the noise and chaos of today's world. Finding balance is much harder today than it was 20 years ago.

  19. Uber-awesome interview!! I LOVE both of Christine's non-fiction books, and I can't wait to read her fiction. :-)

    Btw, I LOVE the car answer!

  20. I love the advice! Short and too the point for sure! Wow, what great books! I think gothic romance is going to be hot hot hot! I keep hearing it's trending so I think you're on to something very big, Christine!

    Best of luck!

  21. Wonderful interview, Christine and Sheri! Personally, I love, love, love gothic romances and want to see them come back in a big way!

  22. Great interview! I love the idea of a book that gives advice FROM gifted kids TO gifted kids!


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