Please describe the book.
Poisoned Apples is a YA poetry collection that combines elements of fairy tales and contemporary teen life. “Feminist poetry” is what the book’s often called, and I don’t disagree, though it’s funny, I didn’t have that label in mind the when I started writing the poems. I was just trying to write authentically about things I’d experienced, things my older daughter and her friends had experienced. I used the framework of fairy tales because I saw so many connections between what the heroines in those stories go through and the inner and outer battles women and girls face today.
As the story progressed from inception to copy-edited version, what were the major changes? How did those changes come about?
I worked very slowly and deliberately writing the poems, making lots of changes along the way, so when the collection finally came together it was, on the whole, pretty solid. My editor, Martha Mihalick, and I went back and forth about how to arrange the poems. And they were short to begin with, but in revisions most of them became even shorter!
When did you first begin work on it? When did you finish?
I wrote the first poem in 2009, during my third semester at Hamline. I wrote that last one in 2013. What research was involved before and while writing the book? Hmmm, does reading beauty magazines count as research? Oh, I also Wikipediaed the plot of “Human Centipede Two.” I don’t recommend doing that.
City Chickens, your first book, was published in 2012. What have you learned about the business of writing since then?
I’ve learned that it’s so important to have an editor and a publisher who fully support your work. You’d think having that would be a given, but it’s not.
Where do you do most of your writing?
At coffee shops. I’m at one right now!
Do you remember the first book you loved?
My godmother gave me a book every year for my birthday, and my all-time favorite was a wonderfully surreal picture book, translated from the German, called The Enchanted Drum by Walter Grieder. As I remember, it’s about a lazy boy who hadn’t practiced his drum routine for a festival parade, so he dreams that all these grotesquely costumed parade characters surround him and start berating him. Hey, I was raised Catholic—guilt is in my blood.
Christine Heppermann is a January 2010 graduate of the Hamline MFAC program. To learn more about her and her writing, please visit her website.