Friday, December 16, 2011

Author Spotlight: Shel Delisle's DOLPHIN GIRL

For the past couple of days, I've been interviewing some of the authors of the lovely books I'm giving away in my Big Awesome YA Giveaway (if you haven't already entered, you could win TONS of books, so go check it out!!). Tuesday I interviewed Megg Jensen, Wednesday, I interviewed Joel Arnold, and Thursday I interviewed Melanie Nilles.

Today, I'm interviewing author Shel Delisle!

*cue intro music*


Kate: Tell me about Dolphin Girl. What’s it about?

Shel: Dolphin Girl is a coming of age story about sixteen-year-old Jane, an artistic, quirky character, who wants to bend (and sometimes break) the rules. She has an overly controlled family life and attends a high-school where the cliques are severe and kids just don't "cross-over" into other groups.  So there's a lot that is forbidden to her.  As she tests what is off-limits, Jane ends up in some pretty interesting situations and the fact that she falls for popular Sam Rojas, a star swimmer, only complicates her life. The story chronicle's Jane's search for identity with her family, friends and her first love as she tries to live like a dolphin--wild, graceful, and, most importantly, free.

Kate: I love the summary--the dolphin aspect really adds a freshness to the typical coming-of-age story, too! What kind of reader would this story most appeal to, and why? 

Shel: One of my hopes since releasing Dolphin Girl is that it would find its readers.  Or, vice versa, that its readers would find it. I'd always thought it would appeal to younger teens, but I've had a few older ones tell me they really enjoyed it.  It blows me away when there are adults who like it, because I never thought of it as a crossover book.  Ever.  But, based on some of the early readers, it seems like there are some adults who like it too.

So, maybe it's the theme, or Jane's situation, that's resonating with readers.  If that's the case, then I think it would appeal to people who get frustrated with labels, or by being defined by a group.  It's for people who don't feel like they fit in, or who feel like they don't want to fit in if it means being something other than themselves.       

Kate: That's a wonderful theme to explore, one that I bet resonates with a lot of people. Tell us about the very first idea you had regarding Dolphin Girl, the one that made you say “I HAVE to write this!” Was it a certain scene, character, or situation?

Shel: It was always Jane that made me write this book. She showed up and wouldn't leave me alone. Ha! -- that sounds psycho!

Seriously, though.  I still remember one of the first things she told me was, "I have a thing about teeth."  Then, she proceeded to tell me about the teeth of her English teacher and Sam's chipped tooth and her crooked teeth, et cetera.  I dutifully wrote all of this down, because, well, it seemed really important to her.  Then, one of my first readers said, "Oh it's a vampire story, right?" 

I was shocked.  "No, she's not a vampire or even into vampires!  She's all about dolphins.  In fact, she's a little obsessed with them."

One of the great things about being an author is that we get to have the final say about what makes it into our books, so I cut all of the teeth obsession, except for her fixation on Sam's chipped tooth.

All of this is a round about way of explaining why I had to write the book.  Jane as a character was so 3-D and so alive on and off the page (in my imagination) that she compelled me to tell her story.    

Kate: I absolutely love it when a character comes alive and demands to be written like that. Besides the main character or hero/ine, who’s your favorite character in Dolphin Girl, and why?

Shel: You ask hard (but good) questions!  This one is difficult because I love all the secondary characters. I mean, Jane is in love with Sam and he's really adorable, Lexie's pretty much the perfect BFF, John is a great big brother, Mom is mom, Desiree is a great role model.  So it might sound weird for me to pick a more minor character, but, other than Jane, my favorite character is Irwin.

For anyone who hasn't read the book, Irwin is the other photographer on the yearbook staff that Jane has to work with.  He's a loner who is at times arrogant, at times cranky, and often hard to like.  But, he's my favorite because he's the character who is always genuinely himself and able to withstand the pressure of high school cliques.  Despite his insecurities, he's tough, much stronger than he looks and not willing to compromise who he is.  I really admire that about him and think that he helped shape who Jane became at the end of the story.

Kate: Where can readers interested in your work go to find out more?

Shel: Oh, I hang out at all the usual webby places -- and a few unusual ones, too.  For people who are interested in finding out more, the best spot is my blog/site at because (sometimes) I actually talk about interesting stuff there. At the site, anyone can find out how to reach me on Facebook, twitter, et cetera.

Kate: Thanks so much, Shel!!


You can enter to win Dolphin Girl and tons of other awesome books now by clicking here and following the directions! The giveaway concludes Tuesday, December 20th!

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