Crystal Allen writes middle grade/young YA fiction that break the mold of what we too often find in children’s literature. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing The Laura Line which was released in 2013.
Thirteen-year-old Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school makes fun of her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance. Until their seventh grade history teacher puts Laura front and center by announcing a field trip to the old run-down slave shack on her grandmother’s property. Heck to the power of no way! Her grandmother insists that it’s more than just a shack; it’s a monument to the strong women in their family — the Laura Line. Something to be proud of. But Laura knows better: if her classmates can’t accept her now, they never will once they see the shack. So she comes up with the perfect plan to get the field trip canceled. But when a careless mistake puts the shack — and the Laura Line — in jeopardy, Laura must decide what’s truly important to her. Can Laura figure out how to get what she wants at school while also honoring her family’s past?
Crystal recently agreed to the following interviewing and I have to say it’s been such a joy getting to know her! I’m sure you’ll understand why I say that as you read her interview.
What is one of your most clear memories of being a teen?
I loved theater and drama. I tried out for every play in middle school and high school. My first role was the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when I was in the fifth grade. When the play was over, all of the first and second graders hated me, so I chased them all over the playground. It was awesome.
I love the opening line on your blog: “Holy Crackers and Cream Cheese! Oh, Mylanta! You’re here!” What are your favorite snack foods?
I love to snack on almonds, fruit, Twizzlers, or Mexican food, not necessarily in that order.
Which famous person would you most like to have to write a review for your book?
What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?
My definition of “national treasures” is different than what may actually qualify as a national treasure. But, if I could add three things, it was be these three:
- All Senior Citizen Facilities or Nursing Homes. I believe senior citizens are our most beloved National Treasures.
- YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and inner city recreation centers . The importance of these alternatives for youth around the country is invaluable, and has helped deter many from taking wrong paths.
- The Houston Astrodome. The Astrodome may already be on the National Treasures list, however, I know there are talks of demolishing it. The Dome has so much history, and to tear it down would certainly destroy a strong piece of Houston history.
Why would you be up at 3am? Reflux.
What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?
Panic – Sharon Draper
The Sweet Dead Life – Joy Preble
(Starting soon) The Great Greene Heist – Varian Johnson
You write fun, middle class stories with a bit of a lesson that any child can enjoy. What authors have inspired your writing?
Christopher Paul Curtis
The Laura Line is your newest book. That title is so intriguing! Can you explain it, or will that give too
The Laura Line is about Laura Dyson, a thirteen year old, overweight girl who has dreams of being a model…or a major league baseball pitcher. Because of her weight issues, students make fun of her to the point that Laura begins to believe that she is all of the ugly things her classmates say she is. It’s not until Laura ventures into an old shack on her grandmother’s farm and finds a ledger filled with documents from the female ancestors in her history, (all of them named Laura) that she begins to stand up for herself. Now, Laura Dyson not only knows who she is, but has evidence of all the wonderful things she can become.
Could Laura and Lamar be friends? Yes!
I love that you’re a Hoosier! (Once Hoosier, always a Hoosier!) What is it about Indiana that made you decide to set Lamar there?
I grew up in a small town in Indiana and I needed Lamar and Xavier to be small town boys. Once I began drafting the setting, and adding basketball as Xavier’s biggest talent, it was clear to me that Indiana had to be part of the story, especially since basketball is HUGE in Indiana.
Is setting difficult for you to choose when you begin writing or does setting come right along with the character?
Detailed setting comes with my characters, especially after I understand where they plan on spending the majority of their time.
Finally, what does diversity mean to you?
To me, diversity simply means everybody.
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