The Books Issue 2012
New book sends young readers to a time before they were born
Published: March 21, 2012
MT: Why did you decide to set your first young adult novel in the '90s?
Polito: My first two books were set in the '80s and feature teenage characters. But my editor insisted they are not "Y.A." But Y.A. is hot right now, and writing about teens, for me, is more interesting. Everything is so important in their lives, especially movies, music, TV shows and such. ...The '90s seemed like a natural progression.
I used to think, "The '90s? Ugh!" — I was not into Nirvana in the '90s, but now I realize what a musical genius Kurt Cobain truly was. And then, remembering all the fun things me and my friends used to do in Detroit — it was a really great time. I was in college, and there was so much promise for my future. Now, well, who knows? If you told me 20 years ago that I'd be self-pubbing a novel and making no money, I'd think, "You crazy old man!" But I don't feel a year older than I did in 1994, and I'm just as determined to succeed — whatever that means!
MT: Why do you think Hazel Park provides such a good backdrop for your books?
Polito: I love HP! My friends from Hazel Park are the best. But growing up there, I felt like I never fit in. In a way, I thought I was "better" and deserved to live somewhere else — like Birmingham or Bloomfield Hills. But I now realize that Hazel Park is like that small town you see on a TV show, and I think a lot of my readers can relate to growing up in a town where maybe they've felt like an outsider. And Hazel Park has everything, if you think about it: a great diner like Country Boy, a bowling alley, bars like House of Shamrocks, and a harness raceway! How cool is that?
Christa Buchanan writes about writing for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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