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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blog Tour Stop: Interview with Loretta Ellsworth, Author of In a Heartbeat

Welcome to today's stop on the Loretta Ellsworth Blog Tour celebrating her upcoming novel, In a Heartbeat which was recently released.

Told in alternating chapters, In A Heartbeat is a story about two very different teens who are linked together when fate joins them with the same heart. Can you share with us a favorite line, scene or passage from the novel with us?

The scenes between Eagan and her grandpa are some of my favorite ones – they have a special relationship and they genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

Can you discuss with us how In a Heartbeat transformed from a tiny spark of an idea to a full length novel?

The spark of the idea began when my mom died of congestive heart failure and my nephew died in a freak motorcycle accident on his way to church. We didn’t know that he had signed up to be an organ donor on his driver’s license – he hadn’t ever discussed this with his parents, but they respected his wishes and even though they weren’t able to use his heart, many people received transplants because of him. I couldn’t write for a long time after that, but when I did start to write again, the story that haunted me was one of an organ transplant, where the stories of both the donor and the recipient were presented. I suspect it was a way to write through my grief.

Heart transplant recipient Amelia begins to feel that she’s gotten more than just a heart and knows things about her donor that she hasn’t been told. In researching for your novel, did you speak with any heart transplant patients? If so, did they share with you any similar feelings to what Amelia went through?

I spoke to a few recipients who were kind enough to share their stories with me. One similar feeling that I think most organ recipients feel is profound gratitude, and then guilt. None of them experienced the feeling that they’d inherited some memory or characteristics from their donor, but in my research I read about many people who had experienced this, who knew things about the donor that they were never told, and who felt that their personalities and personal likes and dislikes had changed, and it often led them to find the donor’s family.

From her murky limbo type existence, Eagan the organ donor, spends a great deal of time reflecting on her life and situations she could’ve handled differently. What was the most challenging aspect of writing for Eagan?

Eagan’s story was a challenge because she’s dead in the first chapter, but I wanted readers to care about her and identify with her even though they know her outcome at the beginning. I also wanted her to have a story arc and obstacles to overcome, which was a challenge in the afterlife.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

First, learn your craft. Read, study, join writing groups, take classes. Then write the stories that matter to you, the ones that speak to your heart. These are the stories that work on more than one level, and readers will connect to them because they matter to you.

What can we look forward to next from you? Any current projects you are working on?

I’m working on a young adult novel about a boy with a perfect memory who is unable to forget. Still looking for a good title – any suggestions?

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Loretta! Readers- be sure to check back tomorrow for your chance to win a copy of In a Heartbeat!


Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 Pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (February 2, 2010)
Language: English

A touching novel of last regrets and second chances in
the tradition of Lurlene McDaniel and Gabrielle Zevin.

When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart.

When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different — dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy —her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan’s life,meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on.

Told in alternating viewpoints, In a Heartbeat tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart.

LORETTA ELLSWORTH is the author of three novels for young readers, In a Heartbeat, The Shrouding Woman and In Search of Mockingbird, which won the 2007 Midwest Bookseller’s Choice Award Honor Book for Children’s Literature, and was named to the 2008 New York Library List of Teenage Books. She lives in Minnesota.


Melissa said...

Brilliant interview :) I can't wait to read this one

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great interview :)

Book Crazy Jenn said...

I have been waiting for this one - it looks like such an amazing story! Great interview!

Jessy said...

Great interview! I can't imagine something like this. It's crazy.

Cathy (Minding the Middle) said...

The story behind the story is so poignant. Truly writing through grief. Thanks for the interview.

The Graef Family! said...

I can already tell that I'm going to need a box of tissues for this book. Beautiful interview! I can't wait to read this one!!

Erin said...

Great interview. I love the premise behind this book and her next one sounds great too!

McBetty said...

Very touching. WOW!
bmcbroom at gmail dot com

b + j = calculus said...

sound interesting! thanks for the interview!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this looks great! I'd love to read it. ~Donna K.

Margie said...

Interesting how the idea for this book came from a personal experience. The review and interview make me want to read this one.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

brandileigh2003 said...

This is right up my alley!

Book Addict Girl said...

ACK! Reading this interview makes me want to read this even more!

Nancye said...

Awesome interview! I liked your well-thought-out questions instead of the canned ones so many are using these days.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net