"He asks me about an LP and I know exactly when I got it, where I got it and even whose collection it originally came from. I know the artist's musical background and I know if they played in any other bands, even if it was only as a sideman, even if it was only for fifteen minutes. Music, to me, is one giant puzzle, and collecting music is about finding all the pieces and trying to fit them together."
That's Allie. Allie is sixteen years old and she lives with her mom in Berkeley, California. For the summer she is working full-time at Bob & Bob Records. When not working at the record store, Allie is blogging about music at www.thevinylprincess.com. She also writes a music zine.
The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz (HarperTeen, 2009) is about Allie (a.k.a. the Vinyl Princess) and her love for music, specifically her love for vinyl records. The Vinyl Princess is also about changes, summer, and seeking a community of people who share your passions.
Allie, her best friend Kit, her mom, her grandmother, and all the other characters in the novel seem very real. They are all unique, VERY interesting, and flawed (read: realistic). Their relationships are great to read about and their Berkeley setting is solidly established. Allie's narration of events is very convincing.
I love reading about a character with a creative passion. I loved whenever Allie obsessed over her blog and zine. I loved reading her musings and conversations with other characters about music. A well-written main character with a creative passion is always entertaining and inspiring to read.
The Vinyl Princess is one of those quiet YA novels. It isn't very dramatic or angsty or really emotional. But it's still very much about the ups and downs of being sixteen and I really enjoyed reading it.
Below is my quick Q&A with the author Yvonne Prinz, who is also the cofounder of Amoeba Music, the world's largest independent music store! I just had to know more about the woman behind this cool YA novel!
What is your strongest or favorite memory from when you were Allie's age (16)?
Like Allie, I worked in a record store, but it was in Edmonton, Canada. I remember being crazy for music. I went to my first Rock Concert that year- HEART and RUSH. It was such a thrill. I hated High School and couldn't wait to get out of there.
What was your favorite book and favorite music album when you were Allie's age? What is your favorite book and favorite music album now?
My favorite book was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It was sitting on my parent's bookshelf and I picked it up and started reading it. I was hooked. My favorite record? I had so many. I think I was still pretty into The Beatles White Album, although my record collection was vast. Right now, today, my favorite record is Howlin' Wolf, Ridin' in The Moonlight. That will change tomorrow, I guarantee it. The last book I read that I loved was The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster.
Why do you write for teen readers?
I like writing for teens because it's such a confusing time. I remember how excited I was at that age, when I found a book where the writer seemed to know about those years. I want to be that person now.
What do you think is the importance of quality books specifically for teens?
I think reading is a great way to learn about the world. It seems that there are more YA books now than ever before especially if you're into Vampires. Quality books are a little harder to find but if teens are reading, I'm happy.
Who are your favorite authors? How have they influenced your own writing?
Cormac McCarthy, Lorrie Moore, A.M. Holmes, John Cheever, Tobias Wolf. Dan Chaon. Good writers always inspire me to write. There is something magical about a well told story. All of these writers are brilliant storytellers.
What was your writing/research/creative process for The Vinyl Princess? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have terrible writing habits but for The Vinyl Princess I rented a studio in Berkeley and I went to "Work" every day. I became very disciplined because I had a very good agent's interest and I wanted to present her with my best work. I had a boom box and a kettle for tea and a desk. My view was College Avenue, right near my character's house. It was perfect.
Thank you, Yvonne. :o)
[ETA: I bought my own copy of The Vinyl Princess.]