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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Interview with Julie Chibbaro, author of Into The Dangerous World

Over the weekend, I was invited to interview Julie Chibbaro about her and JM Superville Sovak's (Julie's husband) book Into the Dangerous World.  I was invited to a event to celebrate her book and meet her family, friends, and members of the Penguin Random House family.

Names of the people in this photo from left to right: Jill Grinberg, Julie Chibbaro (author), Jay Sayers (artist of the Graffiti piece behind everyone), Sharyan November, and JM Superville Sovak (artist of the images in Into the Dangerous World)

I'm so grateful that I was able to attend this event and I hope I get to see all of the wonderful people I met there again soon!

Here is some info about Into the Dangerous World:

Details of the Book
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published by Viking,
an imprint of Penguin Random House
Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Synopsis: 17-year old Ror comes from the boonies and is tough as nails and all she really cares about is drawing and painting and making art. She ends up in the ghetto that was Manhattan in 1984, where she discovers that the walls, the subways, the bridges are covered with art. Before long, she runs into trouble with Trey, the ultimate bad boy and president of Noise Ink, a graffiti crew she desperately wants to join at all costs. 

When Ror falls in love with Trey, she realizes she’ll do just about anything to get up in the scene. She has some decisions to make: she wants to be a street artist but she doesn’t want get shot by the cops; she wants her stuff in the museum but she doesn’t want to die waiting to become famous; she wants to makes money selling her work in a gallery but she doesn’t want to be a puppet at the mercy of a dealer. The book follows her descent into a dangerous world, where her drawings are her only salvation. 

Ror’s journey is a seamless blend of words and pictures, cinematic in its scope - a sharp-edged, indelible creation that will live inside your head.

Meet Julie Chibbaro (right) and JM Superville Sovak (left)

Julie's Bio:
Julie Chibbaro is the award-winning author of three novels: Into the Dangerous World (Viking, 2015), a hybrid graphic/novel about a girl artist on the NY streets in 1984, Deadly (Simon & Schuster 2011, Scholastic 2012), a medical mystery about the hunt for Typhoid Mary in 1906, and Redemption (S&S 2004) a historical novel about a girl's unintended trip to the New World in 1524.

Into the Dangerous World has received a starred Publishers Weekly review, and is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Deadly won the 2011 National Jewish Book Award, and was Top 10 on the American Library Association's Amelia Bloomer Project list. It was named a Bank Street Best Book, and an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association. It is now part of many schools’ curriculum.

Julie Chibbaro's first book, Redemption (Simon & Schuster 2004), an epic tale of love, kidnapping, and white Indians, won the 2005 American Book Award.

Connect with Julie: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

The Interview
*Note: This is a verbal interview that has been transcribed.

1) What would you like your readers to take away from Into The Dangerous World?

A: That's a great question. Well, because it's a book about art, I feel like in our society, art is secondary to a lot of other things we're required to learn--like math. And I think art is just as important as those things, because it's where you find your creativity. You're not a machine. [Art is] where your uniqueness comes from so I think that's what I want people to feel when they're done like, "Wow I can be creative."

2) Do you personally identify with any of your characters?

A: I identify with Ror; I grew up for some time on Staten Island in a very odd household. I had 20 cats and lots of animals. It's like another planet, if you say you grew up in
"The City" (New York City) and you say Staten Island, it isn't included in what people consider New York City for most people. So I do identify as the outsider. Those jokes those kids made, they made them to me (In Into The Dangerous World the other kids in the book make fun of Ror for being from Staten Island and say things like, "isn't that where the horses are?").

3) Were there any particular scenes that were removed from the final product of your book that you wish that could have made it in?

A: There was a character, her name was Gloria, and she was Ror's best friend and they grew up together on the commune. I had a whole very deep story between Ror and Gloria and their friendship and my editor said, "That doesn't work so well because [Ror] really needs to be alone. She needs to really suffer and have nothing to go back to so she has to lose everything including friends."

4) What were your favorite scenes to write and most difficult scenes to write?

A: The KISS! I wanted to put more romance, I wanted to do a lot more but I try not to do a lot of romance because there are so many romances and people do it so well that I just wanted to focus on the art and the relationships but I wanted to see them do more of that so that was really fun.

The hardest part was the fight scene with Frankie and Trey, when Frankie comes after school when he attacks Trey. That was really hard to get right because Frankie is so big and of course he'd beat up Trey and so I had him beating up Trey but JM (her husband and artist of the images inside Into the Dangerous World) and my editor both said, "If [Frankie] beats [Trey] up there, that's the end of it, that's the end of the story." So I had to kind of make it more of a dance. So, just physically it was hard to get them working and that took a long time to put it together. I had to look up the right moves and "your momma's" to find some good ones.

5) How much research did you have to do for this book?

A: I did a lot. I was coming from a place of not at all understanding graffiti and JM is a gallery artist, so neither of us really knew [graffiti]. So, I got back in touch with people from high school (who were into graffiti) that hooked me up with professional graffiti artists and I just started asking around and I did a lot of interviews. I watched Wild Style, and watched and read a lot of graffiti films and books.

6) Do you know what your next project is?

A: Well, I'm writing about a girl who is an actress which is something a lot of people are especially in New York City but she can't dance and she can't sing, and she's not really a good actress. So, there's the twist of the story.


  1. Awesome interview! And it looks like the event was super fun too! I'm going to look into this book (:

    1. Thank you! It was so much fun, I hope to go to more in the future but we'll see.

      I hope you enjoy the book!