Run, don't walk, over to Becky's Book Reviews where she has posted an interview (part 1 and part 2) with Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath. The Underneath is one of my favorite books of the year and one of my top Newbery contenders (also, a notable omission from Anderson's Mock Newbery list... for shame...).
One criticism I've heard about The Underneath is the violence portrayed in a book for children. Ms. Appelt has this to say:
I know that some people feel queasy about the violence in the book. It makes me queasy too. And I approached that aspect of the story with great respect. By not diminishing the violence, my goal was to embrace the love that was possible inside of it, and to illuminate it more fully against that backdrop.
When it is very, very dark, a tiny pinhole of light can seem like the radiant sun. Only in great darkness, great sorrow, can great light emerge. That was my intent. And I think that children deserve, in fact, I think they have a right to experience deep feelings.
I love Ms. Appelt's sentiments about this and highly encourage you to go read the rest of the review.