Friday, June 3, 2016


Holly Schindler is a hybrid author of critically acclaimed traditionally published and Amazon bestselling independently published works for readers of all ages. Her previous YAs (A Blue So Dark, Playing Hurt, and Feral) have received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, won silver and gold medals from ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, been featured on Booklist’s First Novels for Youth, School Library Journal’s “What’s Hot in YA,” and been selected as a PW Pick. Kirkus praised her latest YA, Spark, for “crisp prose [that] flows easily between the past and present,” and Booklist claimed the novel casts “a shimmering spell.”

Schindler applied the Page 69 Test to Spark and reported the following:
From page 69:
Thick, gray, filth-filled cobwebs hang like stalactites from the box seats and the once-shiny faces of the theater poised on either side of the stage. Clumps of dust remind me of the underwater pictures I’ve seen somewhere of the Titanic. The old, submerged ship seemed to have grown frail enough that merely touching the deck railings could cause them to disintegrate. Here, it also seems that if I dare touch anything—the curtains, the seats throughout the house—it’s all grown so brittle, it’ll crumble under my hand. I take a few steps anyway, trying to convince myself I can be brave as long as my flashlight doesn’t give out…

I take a step closer, hoping to get a better look at the old set. Is there any evidence left of the wild event that happened here only hours before?
This passage is taken from a scene in which Quin, the main character, is exploring the interior of the aging Avery Theater. The “wild thing” referred to here is that earlier that very afternoon, Quin saw the marquee on the front of the Avery spark back to life—saw the old, dilapidated theater return to its former glory.

Spark is a tough book to classify, because it also requires more from my readers than any book I’ve ever written. The ending isn’t tied into a neat little bow—rather than telling my readers directly what happened, I leave it up to them: did the Avery revert back to its former glory? Does the old theater literally have magical powers—the kind of powers that can transform those who step inside? Or: is that a metaphor for the “magic of the theater”? For the transformative power of story (an actor’s ability to become another person, for a couple of hours, on a stage)? Are the events that Quin describes real, or the product of her writerly imagination?

Depending on your viewpoint, then, the book is either magical realism or its contemporary fiction. And depending on your interpretation, that above passage is either about just a run-down old building that needs to be leveled for safety’s sake, or it’s a magical place that can literally be brought back from the dead—a place that has a heart that can begin to beat again…
Visit Holly Schindler's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Holly Schindler & Jake.

My Book, The Movie: Feral.

My Book, The Movie: Spark.

Writers Read: Holly Schindler.

--Marshal Zeringue