Toledo native Philana Boles knows young people are enthralled by the glam, glitz, personalities, and beat of the music industry.
No wonder the young author's fourth book that's set right here in Ms. Boles' hometown is about a couple of fictional Toledo teenagers who realize every young person's dream: Going backstage at a concert to meet their favorite musicians.
The 256-page Glitz, recently released by Penguin/Viking publishers, tells the transformation of a shy teen who links with another teenager with attitude and who both get to tour with a hip-hop artist.
Ms. Boles, 35, the daughter of Philip and Patricia Boles of Toledo, is a graduate of St. Ursula Academy and Bowling Green State University. She has directed that a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Glitz support the VH1's Save the Music Foundation. According to its Web site, the nonprofit group tries to stem schools from dropping music programs, to restore instrumental music education in the nation's public schools, and to increase awareness about the importance of music for children's overall education.
The effort is dear to Ms. Boles, who as a former substitute teacher in the Toledo Public Schools system and charter schools, is aware that music programs are eliminated or face elimination in school districts struggling to balance tight budgets.
The first week of May is National Music Week, when activities and programs are held to remind the public about the importance of music and its role in our lives.
"The VH1 tie-in is my earnest way of giving back. It felt like a great fit since the novel features two young girls who want to make it in the music industry and music is such a personal passion of mine," she said.
"I played the flute in school, and wrote and produced musicals while in high school, and it saddens me that with the state of education, a lot of children are denied the opportunity to learn an instrument."
No wonder Penguin books wants her to write more young adult novels. The author of Little Divas (HarperCollins Children's publishers, 2006) credits young people with providing her inspiration to write about them.
"I get letters from preteens, who are inspiring. The adult market is rewarding but it's tough," she said.
She has learned that adults who are not familiar with a new author are not as likely to read those authors' books.
"But young people are quick to pick up a new book. I get letters from kids all over the nation," she said.
In addition to her multi-book deal with Penguin, Ms. Boles intends to continue adding to her bevy of other fiction titles. So far, those works include Blame it on Eve (Random House/Ballantine Books, 2002) and In the Paint (HarperCollins/Amistad, 2005), both adult novels.
Ms. Boles describes her life as a roller coaster. Besides going to graduate school at Stony Brook University at Southhampton, N.Y., where she lives, she juggles a variety of roles that include duties as an image, media, and freelance consultant.
Her love, though, is clearly writing, which she does a few hours each day on her laptop or her iPhone. And if she's not literally writing, "I'm writing in my head," she said.
It's work, but for Ms. Boles, it doesn't feel like it because she enjoys the process so much. In fact, much of it comes natural to her. After all, she's a role model not just for young people who write to her, but for the young people in her family.
"I'm close to my family, and I try to set a good example for them," Ms. Boles said. "That's a big mission in my personal life."
And she certainly is tackling that mission with style.
Contact Rose Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6178.