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Lusty Lady

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Interview on teen homelessness with Almost Home author Jessica Blank

This is the kind of work I want to be doing, though also the source of much soul-searching. Lots of people in my life say I shouldn't take small assignments like this and should focus on the bigger things, and I am for the most part, but I'm torn, and really at a crossroads trying to figure out "what to do with my life." I need to turn in my very overdue novel and then assess. I have a big meeting soon that could get me going in the right direction. It's a challenging time but exciting too, and I've finally emerged from the two-month mental fog I was in for pretty much all of December and January. It got pretty rock bottom there but I'm going back to CrossFit and am probably going to start therapy (I know, long overdue!) and just do my best to be a little less me, meaning a little less overcommited, a little less trying to be there for everyone else and a little more focused on trying to get out of my ruts and lifelong bad habits. I think for me it's so easy to see the flaws but the solutions, or possible ones, not so much. At the same time, I know I can handle a crisis, and not freak out like I saw so many people doing at the Atlanta airport on Monday night (I was there overnight due to my own stupidity).

I also realize this blog has largely outlived its usefulness to me. Not entirely, of course, but to a large extent. The irony of too many people reading, too many voices and faces I see instead of a blank screen. I journal now and am trying to cultivate closer friendships, ones where I can truly say anything and not worry about being judged, even though I can be a very dedicated loner. Anyway, I do appreciate everyone who reads these blatherings, I just am kindof lost of late and am trying to figure out the right path. And as much as I should be trying to be more "professional" and say no and all that (cause the people who tell me that are right, in their way), I'm still happy to be doing pieces like this and probably won't ever stop. I do, though, have to sometimes remember writing is a business, not a hobby. I forget that quite often and I think my bank account reflects that. But one thing at a time or else I'm likely to give up entirely, and I don't want that to happen, not to mention I have no other skills or education. So writing it is, and the truth is, there's nothing else I'd rather do, but that doesn't make it easy. At all.

I interviewed Jessica Blank, author of Almost Home, about teen homelessness for WireTap (I had interviewed her and her husband Erik Jensen for Gothamist about their play The Exonerated and their book Living Justice, both about wrongly convicted death row inmates).

Here's the intro to the interview and book cover - this is one of the best books I've ever read (my official review is on Amazon) and I really hope you read this and pass it on. She's truly inspiring and there's some interesting links in the interview:

Author Jessica Blank's debut young adult novel "Almost Home" brings the topic of teen homelessness to life in vivid, heartbreaking detail. Her tale of seven teens starts with 12-year-old Elly, who runs away from home after being bullied at school, not to mention getting raped by her stepbrother. She's soon befriended by tough girl Tracy, who christens her Eeyore and teaches her to dumpster dive. Touching on sexual abuse, homosexuality, and the violence, hunger, and danger these teens face, Blank movingly presents these characters in all their vulnerability.

"Almost Home" has been optioned by Jon Bon Jovi's film production company, with Blank and her husband Erik Jensen writing the screenplay. This spring, Blank will do several readings, peer outreach and book giveaways with shelters in Southern California. Her publisher, Hyperion Books has donated several hundred books to National Safe Place to distribute to teens through their shelters. Blank also offers a resource guide at the end of the book, including Roaddawgz, an online community by and for homeless youth, and Covenant House, which provides youth shelter and services. Wiretap spoke with Jessica Blank about her new novel and her thoughts on teen homelessness.

She's also on MySpace and has a new play running now at New York Theatre Workshop, starring April Yvette Thompson:

Liberty City: a place where people of the African Diaspora have settled; where urban and island cultures rub up against each other, and the site of Miami's infamous 1980 riots. Enter April Yvette Thompson--a child of children of the 60's, the daughter of a Bahamian and Cuban father and an African American mother: free thinkers, young radicals and movement people. As the hope of the 60's and 70's gave way to the disillusionment and disintegration of the 80's, April's family struggled to survive and stay together. Part history, part imagination, Liberty City is her personal story that illuminates the lives of one family through the context of social, cultural, and political events.


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