Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Pam Bachorz

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday! Today my guest is an agency mate whose book is at the top of my TBR pile because it sounds freakin' awesome. Let's meet Pam Bachorz author of Candor!

Q: Tell us about Candor. What is the story about and what inspired you to write it? CANDOR is the story of 17-year-old Oscar Banks. Oscar lives in a small Florida community that his father built. The secret? Everyone in Candor, Florida is brainwashed--except Oscar. He's secretly found a way around the Messages, and even set up a side business to get new kids out of town before they're brainwashed. But then sweet-tart Nia moves to Candor and he's forced to choose between love and safety.

Pam: I was inspired to write CANDOR when we were living in a planned community in central Florida. I took the dog for a walk one late night. The mosquito truck drove by and we were coated in the white spray that the town swore was harmless. What if, I wondered, it had Prozac in it? That would explain why everyone in the town was so happy and friendly. From there I developed my idea of a town where everyone pays a premium to be brainwashed (but neglects to clue their kids into the plan).

Q: You've got a bunch of interactive promo stuff like podcasts and video testimonials on your website that are linked to Candor. Can you talk a bit about them? What inspired you to do them? Who do you collaborate with to do them? I think they add a lot to the book experience. Have you gotten a good response from readers to them and do you think they are building buzz for the book?

Pam: The video testimonials and "hoax" website came first. I built the website and did the graphics (my day job involves photo buying so that was a lot of fun for me), and my husband wrote a lot of the marketing copy for the site. I put together the book trailer for the site too, for less than $200! (And here's how.)

As for the testimonial videos (found here), my husband is a marketing guy and he'd shot dozens of video testimonials for a large university in Boston. He knew the format cold. I wrote the character "backgrounds" and we recruited family, neighbors and local kids to participate. They all kindly donated their time. My husband shot the videos with a little digital video camera on a tripod and then he edited them in iMovie. In fact we're posting one last testimonial this week--my mother-in-law was the actress for this one!

As for the podcasts (found here), that was something that my agent (Elana Roth) and I had been kicking around for a long time, one of those "wouldn't it be cool if...". When my publisher (Egmont USA) said they'd help make it happen, we were psyched. I wrote the scripts (something I had never done before!) and then CC Chapman read them. Matthew Ebel provided all the music, and Dan Patterson pulled it all together.

I've gotten some really nice feedback from people about the hoax site and its videos, the trailer, the podcasts... I think they are all good marketing tools but also they are a nice "treat" for fans of the book. It's fun to expand the world of CANDOR for my readers. Although some people have asked for things I won't do: they want me to post testimonial videos of the characters in the book (like Oscar, Sherman, Mandi, Nia...). I totally get why they want that and I totally appreciate the request, but I don't want to put a picture in people's minds of what the characters are like, beyond what's in the book. I like to leave room in the mind of the reader. If there's ever a movie made of it, that's a different story.... and the portrayal of the characters won't be up to me, anyway. It will be another person's artistic vision!

Q: In one of the podcasts, the creator of town of Candor, Campbell Banks, talks about disguising messages in music. Music is a huge inspiration to me and I think it does subliminally influence my creativity (though hopefully not in a scary mind control way!). Does it influence you? Do you listen to music while you write or to get inspired? What are 5 songs that would be on the soundtrack for Candor and how do they relate to the book (ie. did they help you set the mood for a certain scene or do they remind you of a particular character)?

Pam: I totally get inspired by music. There's almost always music playing while I write. Sometimes I listen to "new age"-type music, things that are supposed to align your chakras and such, and other times I listen to music that I've picked to remind me of the emotion I want in a particular scene (lots of Brandi Carlile for this).

I actually posted a CANDOR play list on my website here. My top song for CANDOR is "Yellow" by Coldplay. I love the emotion in it, and also some of the lyrics directly make me think of the story. For example, the line "look at the stars, look at how they shine for you..." makes me think of how the main character Oscar used to lie on his bed, as a child, and look at glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling with his Mom. And then, as the song progresses, "I jumped across for you...oh what a thing to do...I drew a line for you...oh what a thing to do...for you I'd bleed myself dry..." makes me think of how Oscar takes some HUGE risks for Nia, the girl he loves. Other inspiring songs: "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds, "Keep Myself Awake" by Black Lab, "27 Jennifers" by Mike Doughty, and "Stand Still Look Pretty" by The Wreckers.

Q: What or who inspired you to become a writer? Did you aspire to be a writer since childhood or did the urge come later? And who are some of your influences (since it is Women Who Rock Wednesday we like to hear about the women, but feel free to mention guys too)?

Pam: Being a writer was my earliest ambition and also the ambition I resisted the most. I didn't think it was possible or practical. So I went and got 4 college degrees and worked in various corporate jobs (which I still do... gotta pay the bills!) and didn't really write until a friend got in a really bad car accident. I realized that if I had the one in that wreck, my only regret would be that I didn't give writing a real chance. So, I started again and five years later my agent sold CANDOR. Some of my biggest influences are L.M. Montgomery (ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, among many others) and Lois Duncan, whose creepy books I read and re-read as a teen. Also, a lot of the feminist theory that I read in my undergrad days at Boston University has given me the necessary backbone and drive for writing! As for support these days, of course I don't want to exclude the very important men in my life (my husband, my son, my father, friends...) but I have to say one of my biggest inspirations to keep going is the wide community of kidlit writers--women are definitely the majority of that group!

Q: After the readers gobble up Candor they will be dying to know, what are we going to get next from Pam Bachorz?

Pam: My next YA is tentatively set to pub with Egmont USA in Fall 2010. It's another secluded community with dark secrets--darker, though, if you can imagine, and with a main character facing life-and-death decisions.

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Pam: My first album was a single: "Nobody Gonna Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder. I played it OBSESSIVELY. I bet my mother still can sing the lyrics. First concert? Oh yeah, Belinda Carlisle's first solo tour. ("Ooooooo baby we're in heaven on eaaaaaarth....").

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Pam: Meeting people from my writing and reading life are my biggest rock-star moments. Like strolling up to Mo Willems at a BEA event and introducing myself (poor guy, he just wanted to get a drink!). Or going to my publisher's office for the first time...they cared about making a good impression on ME! As a debut writer, I wanted to kiss their feet just for publishing me, but instead THEY took ME out for drinks! It was probably a small thing to them. But it meant so much to me. I felt so very Authorial.

I agree, those are my biggest rock star moments too. And I hope to meet Pam someday cause man she is full of great ideas and sounds so cool! Another cool thing about Pam...

Today's Contest:

She's putting a signed copy of Candor up for grabs for one lucky winner! As usual, you enter by leaving a comment and there are additional entries to be accrued:

+1 for blogging/tweeting/linking to this interview
+1 for blogging/tweeting about Pam and Candor
+1 for blogging/tweeting/linking to the Candor podcasts, testimonials and/or trailer

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as your email address and I will draw the winner next Wednesday when our guest will be author Jessica Brody!


Annika said...

Oh man, Candor sounds awesome! I am going to check out the extras right now.

jpetroroy said...

I'd love to enter! Great interview

+1 I tweeted about the contest at

pepsivanilla said...

This sounds like such a great book! Thanks for the chance to win :)


audrey said...

Candor sounds like a really good book, and as always, great interview Stephanie!
please enter me :)


Thea Ava Martinez said...

It would be a great satisfaction to read your article. View my site, if you have time. Thank you and God bless :).

Nathalie Uy said...