This is my very first author interview, one huge step towards being a proper book blogger! Yay! I interviewed Sharon Huss Roat, author of Between The Notes, my review of which can be found here: BTN Review.
- How did you come up with the musical element of Between the Notes?
This story came together in such a strange way. I started with one girl and one boy, then added a friend, the family and siblings, another boy. Layer upon layer. One of those layers was Ivy’s music, and her stage fright. Music has always been a big part of my life. I played the clarinet when I was young, even got to travel around Europe performing and to Hawaii. Now I get to enjoy my son’s musical pursuits… he’s a vocal major at his performing arts high school, and also plays guitar, string bass and piano. He’s got a rock band and a blue grass band. And my daughter dances, so music finds its way into everything around here, including my books!
- Which of the scenes were the toughest and which of them, the best to write?
Honestly, I don’t remember which was the toughest… there were moments when I wanted to trash the whole novel because something wasn’t working, but that was years ago when I was on a first or second draft. I do have a favorite scene, but it’s toward the end of the novel and I don’t want to share a spoiler by describing it!
- If any one character could have a novella, which one would it be?
Ah, let’s see. I could definitely delve into the lives of James or Lennie a bit further and write a novella on either of them. But it might be even more fun to write about Willow or Wynn, who are the mean girls of this story and have their own stories to tell.
- What’s next in the YA world for you, after Between the Notes?
I’m currently working on a second, stand-alone novel for HarperTeen, which is also a YA contemporary. I won’t say too much about it yet as I’m still working on the first draft, but it is tentatively titled: HOW TO DISAPPEAR.
- As a debut novelist, what advice would you give to aspiring writers and maybe some for the readers too?
I think that both readers and aspiring writers don’t realize what goes into getting a first novel published: the YEARS of writing, revising, querying agents, being on submission to publishers, then the many rounds of revision. It’s a long and sometimes frustrating process, full of many opportunities for rejection and criticism along the way. So, to aspiring writers, my advice would be to keep at it and don’t get discouraged. To readers: be gentle!
- How was Between the Notes conceptualized? [Did you draw on personal experiences?]
There are so many little bits and pieces of ideas, influences and experiences that informed my writing of this novel. A case of mistaken identity, hearing about a friend’s stage fright, meeting a family with a disabled child, etc. I think it’s impossible NOT to draw on personal experiences while writing, but Ivy’s story is certainly her own and not based on my own life at all.
- Favourite Book: Jane Eyre
- If you had to pick one: Lennie or Ivy? Ivy
- What would be your last meal on earth? Garden tomato on white bread w/mayo.
- The only thing you could take from your old house to your new one? Excluding my husband and children? My laptop.
- Favourite TV Show and Movie. Don’t have single favorites in either categories, but off the top of my head a couple of faves: Downton Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice. (I’m in a historical mood!)
Lastly, what inspired you to write a book about mental disability and how much it affects others?
Brady’s mental disability was one of the layers I added to the story as I was revising. I met a family with twin boys, one of whom had an intellectual disability. He reminded me of Brady. I spoke to the boy’s mother at length, learned more about how his disability affected their family, including the expense of all his therapy and the impact on parents and siblings. It ended up being such an important part of Ivy’s story, I now can’t imagine what the book would be like without it!
Thank you, Nia, for having me!
Thank you so much Sharon! I loved your book and I really, really think everyone should go and get it. NOW.
Until Next Time,