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31 Days of Authors: Blythe Woolston, author–and reader

Teen Read Week is officially October 16th through 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you author interviews and profiles and reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us.

I recently listened to The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston and was really drawn in by the way Loa describes and copes with her world as she deals with PTSD brought on by the death of her baby sister (and, later, her childhood friend). She has a unique perspective, a strong voice, and a necessarily twisted sense of humor that just clicked for me. Throughout Loa’s story there are references to physics problems that parallel what’s happening to her and an extended intertwining of the concept of the “freak observer” (or Boltzmann Brain) with Loa’s life. It’s a complex, emotional story–no wonder, then, that Woolston was the winner of YALSA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award last January!

I was curious about the author who’d created such a distinct character–and who’d managed to weave theoretical cosmology into a YA novel!–and especially since The Freak Observer was Woolston’s first novel, I wanted to get to know her a little better. Luckily for me, Blythe Woolston is on the Internet. She blogs; she tweets; and she’s on Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads.

What I found most interesting about her is that she identifies so much as a reader. In an interview, she was asked (shortly before The Freak Observer was published) how she made a living. Her response: “I index books. I’m a professional reader.” In her Morris Award acceptance speech, she again emphasizes her role as a reader, saying, “Hello, you. I’m Blythe the Reader.” She then goes on to talk about her childhood spent reading and in libraries: she recalls in detail her first library–a tiny one in a dead end of her elementary school–and the world that reading opened to her (“shit happens in your brain when you read.”). She goes on to talk about the importance of libraries, of reading, of the availability of books, and points out the role that having access to books and reading played in the way Loa changed her own life.

I love it when authors talk about what they read and why they read and why reading is important, and I was especially delighted by how Woolston brought that argument back around to what happens in The Freak Observer. She’s certainly an author I’ll be keeping my eye on in the future!

— Gretchen Kolderup, currently reading Death Note, vol. 6

To discover other authors who are new to the YA scene, read all of our posts tagged “debut authors” and watch for our monthly feature on new debuts!

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One Comment

  1. […] Woolston won the Morris Award in 2010 for The Freak Observer (read more in our 31 Days of Authors post about Blythe.) When I asked her what winning the award meant to her she told me: After I received notice […]

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