2017 National Book Award Longlist, Young People's Literature

Laurel Snyder

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder Laurel Snyder
Orphan Island
(Walden Pond Press / HarperCollinsPublishers)
ISBN: 9780062443410

National Book Foundation: What’s your writing process: where do you do write, and how long does it take to finish a book?
Laurel Snyder: What does it say about me that the answer to both parts of this question is the same: It depends. 

I started publishing when I was a new mom, so settling into a routine has been fairly impossible. As the years have gone by, I've come to terms with that reality.  Sometimes I write at my desk or the dining room table. Sometimes I write in bed. Occasionally I go to a coffee shop. This decision usually has something to do with who else is in the house, how loud they're being, and what room they (or their Legos and comic books) have taken over.  But that randomness suits me. I tend to dislike regularity, for better or worse. And perhaps, for this reason, the answer to the second part of the question is the same. It can take anywhere from six months to three years (so far).
Foundation: What’s your favorite bookstore or library?
Snyder: That's a hard question! I have deep love for so many libraries and so many bookstores. Currently, I can't imagine life without my local Atlanta indies, Charis Books and Little Shop of Stories.  But for the rest of my life my very favorite book-place will be the Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.  It was one of the most important spaces in my childhood. I basically lived there. So when people say "library" it is always the place that springs to mind first. I wish I could go back and thank the librarians who worked there when I was in school across the street, and walked over daily.

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

About the Author

Laurel Snyder is a poet, essayist, and author of picture books and novels for children, including The Longest Night, Bigger than a Bread Box, and Seven Stories Up. She is also the editor of the nonfiction anthology Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes, a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered. She lives in Atlanta with her family.



- WEBSITE: laurelsnyder.com

- TWITTER: @LaurelSnyder

- FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/laurel.snyder.56?hiq=laurel%2Csnyder

(Photo credit: Sonya Naumann)


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