L.K. Madigan: Flash Burnout Morris Award Q&A

Posted February 3, 2010 by Sara | Novel Novice 5 Comments

Earlier this month, author L.K. Madigan won YALSA’s William C. Morris Award for her debut novel Flash Burnout.

Lisa was kind enough to grant us an exclusive interview. Here’s what she had to say:

Your book Flash Burnout just won the William C. Morris award at the YMAs. Describe the moment when you found out.

I received a phone call from the Morris panel of librarians; they had me on speakerphone so rather than just one person listening to me cry … they all got to hear my crazy incoherent sounds.

What was the process like of becoming a nominee for the YMAs?

I’m not sure of the process that the librarians undergo to choose the five finalists; I just know I got a phone call at work from my editor one day, telling me FLASH BURNOUT was a finalist. I was floored. You can read about it in detail in this blog post:


Have you read any of the other nominees or winners of the YMAs? What were your favorites?

I have read all of the other finalists, and honestly, I’m just glad I was not on the Morris panel. I would have sat silently in a corner, hoping no one asked me to vote. I do have a special fondness for Malinda Lo’s ASH. We are both members of an online community of 2009 debut authors – http://www.feastofawesome.com – so I admit I was pulling for ASH.

You meet someone in a bookstore, and they’re debating whether or not to buy Flash Burnout. What would you say to convince them?

I’m really bad at this. Every time someone tells me they bought my book, I caution, “It’s a little edgy. There are a few bad words. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.” Then they look at me like, What is wrong with you?

Someone said to me recently on Twitter: “It had me in stitches, and it had me in tears.” So maybe that’s what I would tell people. “It will have you in stitches, and in tears. If that’s your kind of book, get it!”

You have readers who loved Flash Burnout, and can’t wait for The Mermaid’s Mirror. What books would you recommend for them to read in the meantime?

What an impossible question! Luckily, I can point them to the American Library Association’s just-released list of Best Books for Young Adults: http://www.acrl.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/bestbooksya/bbya2010.cfm

In fact, a librarian is a great person to ask for recommendations!

And that online community I mentioned above? (http://www.feastofawesome.com) There is a veritable treasure trove of booky goodness produced by those authors – there’s bound to be something for every reader.

Portland is home to some incredibly talented YA authors, as well: Lisa Schroeder, April Henry, Laini Taylor, Christine Fletcher, Emily Whitman, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Suzanne Young. I can guarantee a satisfying read with any of their books.

Can you tell us a little about what to expect from The Mermaid’s Mirror? What’s it about? Who’s it for?

This is the synopsis of THE MERMAID’S MIRROR:

Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …

This is definitely a girl book … but mermaids have been capturing the imaginations of men and women since time began, so I would not discount boy readers! It’s recommended for ages 12 and up.

At Novel Novice, one of our main goals is encouraging teens to read. What would you say to reluctant teen readers to convince them to pick up a book (any book)? Why do you think reading is so important?

We have a bazillion options for “escape” nowadays, but most of it involves being plugged in or logged on. Books – the ink-on-paper kind – don’t require batteries, electricity, or a WiFi. Reading about imaginary people and places allows your mind to create its own images, rather than simply processing pixels created by someone else.

Tell us about an educational experience you had that changed your life.

In college, I spent a year studying literature in England. Living and traveling outside the U.S. gave me myriad gifts. I recommend it for every student who can manage it.

As a writer, what are some of your biggest inspirations?

I get inspired every time I leave my house. That’s why so many of my writing notes are on scraps of paper.

Young Adult lit has become a huge phenomenon over the last few years, especially with series like Harry Potter and Twilight. What do you think is the appeal of YA lit?

A vast banquet of talent. Some adult fiction wanders into the pedantic, or the long-winded, or the obscure. Most of those traits are indulgences a YA author cannot allow herself.

Okay, time for some flash questions:

If you could trade places with one person for a single day, who would it be & why?

Bono’s wife.

What was the last movie you saw?

Sherlock Holmes.

Biggest TV addiction?

The Daily Show.

Guilty pleasure?


Fruits or veggies?


Favorite childhood toy?

Two stuffed pink dogs that had long pink “hair,” and wore little gold chains around their necks. They came with a brush. One was larger, so it was the mom, and the other was the daughter.  When I slept over at my grandma’s house, they came with me.

We want to thank Lisa so much for her time … and if you haven’t done so yet, go check out her award-winning novel Flash Burnout!

You can also catch more from our interview with Lisa in this article on Portland Books Examiner.

Sara | Novel Novice

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5 responses to “L.K. Madigan: Flash Burnout Morris Award Q&A

    • sgundell

      Thanks! I admit, I stole the idea for the flash questions from a friend/former coworker who used them during his press junket interviews for new movies.

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