Monday, February 6, 2017

Interview with Janie Chodosh, author of the Faith Flores Science Mysteries

Janie Chodosh is author of the Faith Flores Science Mysteries series which follow titular character Faith as she uses her love of science to solve mysteries that others have written off as closed.

You can find out more about Janie and the Faith Flores series by visiting her website: Janie Chodosh

Today I bring you an interview with Janie where she opens up about her stories, her life, and the writing process. Come back tomorrow for my review of Code Red, the second book in the Faith Flores series.

      Describe Faith Flores in 5 to 10 sentences. 

In the start of the series Faith has major trust issues. Her mother died of a supposed heroine overdose and she never met her father, so she feels quite alone and abandoned. Faith is vulnerable. She wants to be close to people, but she is terrified. Faith is also smart and curious, and like many teens I have met, she has a great sense of humor with a strong dose of sarcasm.

 Who or what first inspired you to write?

I have always loved to write. I don’t think anyone or anything inspired me as much as writing is just a part of who I am. In first grade I remember writing my teacher a song and then singing it to her! (I am a terrible singer.) In sixth grade I wrote a play and got together a cast of elementary school actors and performed it for my school. I have always kept journals and when people still wrote letters, I would write long expressive letters to anyone who would read them! Recently a former high school friend told me she still had a five-page note I wrote to her!

Was there a fictional character that you identified with most as a child or teen?

I loved Dorothy from the Oz series. I loved her adventures in fictional lands and all the characters she met. I loved the fantasy world created by Frank Baum—not just in the “Wizard of Oz,” but throughout the whole series. I loved books that transport me and I still do. Dorothy is an intrepid explorer and she is unafraid of taking risks and standing up for her friends. I’m not sure if anyone still reads those books, but in my opinion, they should.

What is one thing you hope readers learn/remember from reading your books?

Great question. I hope they remember my characters. I love writing character, and Faith is close to my heart. She is real and damaged and in many ways the odds are stacked against her, but she does not give up. She does not take no for an answer. She does not let a dead end stop her. I also hope readers will connect with her love of science and the fascinating world of genetics and the idea of pursuing your passion.

Are any characters based on real people?

No characters are based on any one person, though I guess I could say that in some ways, since they come from my mind and my understanding of the world, they are all based on me! But that would be really boring to have a book of  “Janie’s” so I love taking what I know and think about and fictionalizing and imagining the world for the character. I love creating and dreaming and imaging who these people are, giving them voice and making them real.

What inspired the locations for your stories?

I wanted “Death Spiral” to be an urban story and I needed an urban center close to big pharmaceutical companies. I also wanted there to be a university. I came up with Philadelphia for these reasons, but also because half of my family is from the Philadelphia area and I had spent time there as a child. It was a place I was familiar with, and met all the requirements for the setting. However, authenticity is important to me, so since I am not there, I did tons of research. I decided to set book two, “Code Red” in Santa Fe, where I have lived for the past seventeen years, and which I know intimately. I wanted to capture subtleties of place I could not capture in book one. Plus, Santa Fe is a pretty unique place, and I thought Faith, coming from a big east coast city, would have a strong reaction to the high western desert. It was fun seeing Santa Fe through her eyes and imagining her experience of it.

Do you listen to music while writing?

I am so easily distracted that music would just be too much of a distraction. I really do prefer it to be quiet while I write. Listening to music works for some people, but for me, I have enough going on in my head. I need to stay one hundred percent focused on that.

Do you enjoy book to movie adaptations?

I do enjoy movie adaptations, especially when they are done well. However, I do love it when I have read the book of a movie first, because I like to understand the author’s vision and understand all the nuances that don’t necessarily make it onto screen. Seeing a character come to life and seeing a filmmaker’s interpretation of a book is very exciting. I would love to see Faith Flores brought to film. Many people have told me the books should be made into films or an Amazon series. I have no idea how to do this, and there is so much competition out there, so I am not sure this will ever happen. However, I think Faith is a character so many people can relate to and the plots of both books are pretty fun, so I do think they would make great films.

 Favorite books?

I have so many favorite books, and I tend to say whatever I am reading at the time is my favorite book. However, “To Kill A Mockingbird” has always stayed with me as a favorite and I have never stopped loving Scout. I love “The House of Spirits” by Isabel Allende, which I am currently trying to read in Spanish. That will take me about ten years. My Spanish is not that great!

If you could visit anyplace in the world where would it be?

I love to travel, and I have been fortunate to so far travel quite a bit. I love adventure. I love culture. I love learning. And I love nature, so a lot of my travel has been nature based. I was recently in Chile and I really want to go back there, especially to the southern part of the country. But gosh, one place? I have a big list of places I would like to see. I also love staying at home and getting to deeply know the place where I live. I spend a lot of time taking walks and learning about the local natural history of my home, and while I love traveling and seeing the world, I love being grounded in a place.

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