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Monday, November 29, 2010

Ten Tantalizing Questions for Sarah Ockler, and Fixing Delilah Giveaway!

Have you ever wanted to learn more about your favorite authors? Ten Tantalizing Questions is designed not only to showcase exciting new books on the horizon, but to also provide a glimpse into the personalities of the authors behind them.

"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes." ~William Makepeace Thackeray

Today I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to Sarah Ockler, author of the upcoming contemporary YA novel, Fixing Delilah. Sarah stopped by today to discuss her new book with us and brought along a signed copy too! Details below. 

Sarah Ockler wrote and illustrated her first book at age six -- an adaptation of Steven Spielberg's E.T. Still recovering from her own adolescence, she now writes books for young adults.

After several years of wandering between New York City and Denver, Sarah and her husband Alex live in Upstate New York with an ever-expanding collection of sea glass (hers) and dinosaurs (his).Official Website & Blog 

1. Fixing Delilah is a story about Delilah Hannaford, a girl who must face her family’s painful past. Can you tell us a little more about the book and share with us a favorite line, scene or passage?

Fixing Delilah is about family, long-buried secrets, and how even the best intentions can ultimately hurt the ones we most want to protect. Delilah's mom is a total workaholic, and as much as Delilah can't stand her, deep down she misses her. She feels totally alone and misunderstood, and things are finally starting to fall apart -- her grades are slipping, she's lying and sneaking out at night, getting into trouble. But when her estranged grandmother dies and Delilah and her mom travel to Vermont to settle the estate with her aunt Rachel, Delilah starts to dig deeper into her family history. What happened ather grandfather's funeral 8 years ago that totally severed ties with her grandmother? Why don't they ever talk about aunt Stephanie, who died when she was around Delilah's age? Why does everyone else in Vermont seem to know more about the Hannaford history than Delilah?

With the help of her childhood best friend Patrick and the new friends she makes in town, Delilah must find the strength to confront her family's deepest, most painful truths.

One of the scenes that really sums up the themes of Fixing Delilah is when Delilah is having coffee with Megan, a local woman who was best friends with Delilah's aunt Stephanie when they were teens. Delilah is asking Megan about the family fight, about how they all lost touch when they were once so close. Megan responds: "...when bad things happen -- whether someone dies or people argue or split up -- you get to a point where it's just too hard to go back. There's so much lost.
So many versions of the truth. So many versions of how things might've turned out differently. We all long for what could have been, Del. For some people, it's just easier to move forward and try to forget." That says a lot about Delilah's family and what she must understand if she's going to confront some of the issues.

2. What three words would you say best describe Fixing Delilah?

Stubborn. Destructive. Vulnerable.

3. What do you love most about the main characters in this story?

I love that they're so messed up and distant, but through it all, they have this unbreakable bond of love and shared history. Everyone always says that your family will always be there, but sadly, that's not always the case. Some things are just too much for families to accept. Not so with Delilah and her family. I love that the Hannafords never stop loving each other, no matter how bad things get.

4. You are also the author of Twenty Boy Summer, a novel about love, loss and healing. Did you find that writing your second novel was more challenging than the first? What was your favorite aspect of writing Fixing Delilah?

Writing Fixing Delilah was more challenging for me than writing Twenty Boy Summer for a number of reasons. Logistically, I had a deadline for this book since I sold it when it was unwritten. With my first book, I had the luxury of time, and I took it! I spent four years working on Twenty Boy Summer, workshopping it with other writers, polishing it until it was ready to go out in the world. With Delilah, I didn't have that kind of time. There was no workshopping or walking away from it
for a few weeks to get a clear head. I just had to work until it was done, and as a result, there were a lot more revisions with Delilah!

From a content perspective, it was difficult to write a main character who is really struggling with the distance between her and her mother and is acting out as a result without making her seem like a total brat. Also, there wasn't a major tragedy like the death of a young person to emotionally impact the readers and help them see *instantly* why the characters are falling apart. In Delilah's case, the tragedies are much more understated, but still testing the bonds between family members, threatening to break them all apart.

One of my favorite aspects of Fixing Delilah is the fact that the Hannaford family is all women. Delilah's father died before she was born, and her grandfather died 8 years ago, so the remaining Hannafords include Delilah, her mother, and her aunt. Throughout the story, they're also struggling with memories of Delilah's aunt Stephanie, who died when she was around Delilah's age, and her late estranged grandmother. I don't have sisters myself, so I really enjoyed exploring the dynamics between women in a family, the bonds, the ups and downs, the things that make them similar and the things that are soooo different, the love-hate roller coaster. It was an equally challenging and rewarding part of the writing process.

5. If Fixing Delilah was to be made into a movie, do you have certain actors you envision in the lead roles or do you think unknowns would be best suited to play them?

I'm totally the wrong person to ask about casting because I don't watch much TV (we *just* got a TV and cable last month for the first time in years!), but I really do love movies with less well-known actors cast in the main roles. Celebrities tend to get typecast pretty quickly, and it's difficult to see the characters instead of just the actors themselves. That said, I do think Sandra Bullock would make an awesome Claire Hannaford (Delilah's mom), and Rachel Weiss an excellent Aunt Rachel (Delilah's free-spirited, tarot-card reading aunt). Beyond that, I have no idea! What do readers think?

6. If you had to pick a theme song for Delilah which one would you pick and why?

That's easy, because a particular song inspired the book: The Story, by Brandi Carlile. I don't know if Brandi wrote it about a romantic relationship, a family relationship, or something else entirely, but when I heard the lyrics, the Hannaford women just came to life on the  page for me. I actually just blogged about this, so if you'd like to know more about how the song inspired the book, check it out here.

7. What were you like as a teenager and did you have any books in particular that were your favorites? If your teenage self was to read Fixing Delilah, what do you think she’d say?

As a teenager, I definitely shared Delilah's knack for finding trouble, and I gave my parents a run for their money for sure! Also like Delilah, despite the acting out, deep down I was just confused and lost, trying to connect with someone, to be understood. I think a lot of teens feel that way because it's an age where we all struggle for independence, but still want guidance and help. Sometimes we get stuck in the middle. I know that my teen self would relate to Delilah on many levels. I think she'd love the book, honestly! :-) The funny thing is that when I was a teen, I didn't really read YA. YA wasn't what it is today -- we had Judy Blume (love Judy!), and that was about it. I actually read a lot of horror novels -- Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robin Cook, V.C. Andrews. There's a scene in Fixing Delilah where Delilah is in her late grandmother's bedroom reading passages from her books. That was inspired by real events. When my grandmother passed away, I spent a lot of time in her room, flipping through her books, thinking about her. She had a lot of horror novels, so I started reading them, and got hooked. :-)

8. If you could inhabit the life of one literary character (your own included) and dive into their world for just one day, who would you choose and why?

This might sound like a cop-out answer, but I'd love to check out Harry Potter's world for a day, especially if it was a day in Hogsmeade! I just loved how Rowling created that world -- I got so sucked into it when I started reading the HP series, and I would love to check it out in real life. Plus, hello, magic!

9. What would you say is the best advice you’ve been given as an author?

The best advice I've been given as an author, and I continue to give to other aspiring authors, is the simplest: don't give up. Never, ever give up. Yes, it bears repeating! Don't give up! Because writing is difficult enough when you're just putting your art on the page, but the moment you want to publish, your art becomes a commodity, and is open for public scrutiny and rejection. It's a tough business with lots of ups and downs, and there are so many difficult times where giving up looks like the easy path. If you love writing, none of that matters. You just have to keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.
Don't. Give. Up.

10. Fixing Delilah releases December 1, 2010. What can we look forward to from you next? Any new series or other upcoming projects in the works?

I'm currently working on another contemporary YA. I'm not ready to share too many details just yet, but it's set in the winter for a change, and features fun things like cupcake baking, ice skating, a pet hamster, and really cute hockey boys. :-) I'll share more on my blog in the coming months, so check out http://www.sarahockler.com for news.

Thanks for hosting me today, Kim! And thanks to readers for checking out Fixing Delilah! Happy holidays, all!


Fixing DelilahTwenty Boy Summer

 One SIGNED copy of Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler!

Available December 1, 2010 at Amazon| Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

Official Rules:
1.You must be 13 year or older to enter.
2. Open to entrants with a valid U.S. mailing address only. 
3. Entries must be received by Midnight EST on December 15th 2010. 
4. Once contacted, winners have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.
5. To enter to win, simply fill out the form below. Good luck!  


Mad Scientist said...

I think interviews are fun and there is no better way to meet a author over the web.

Wonderful questions, unique answers, and I just loved Twenty Boy Summer even more the hub bub about it.

There is a new project starting in the blog-o-sphere that I want to get involved in, so spreading the word of greatness. I have a post up about Save a Tree, Read an E-Book.

Mad Scientist

Christina/Book Addict said...

This is a great interview! Thanks for sharing this and for the giveaway. I especially like her answer to number one and the quote--so profound! I really enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer so I must check this one out!

Eleni @ La Femme Readers said...

What a lovely interview! I can't wait to read this book, thank you for the giveaway. :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great interview. I always love the describe in 3 words part.

Mrs. DeRaps said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read this book (I'm taking part in the Contemps Challenge). I love a good realistic YA book. I think that we need more author who are willing to "keep it real"...Thanks!

Alison said...

Fabulous interview. I'm very excited for this book.
I love The Story by Brandi Carlile too.

Catherine Stine said...

Sounds like fun. Interesting that realistic fiction is having a comeback.

Kristi said...

Thanks for the great interview! I can't wait to read this book!

Kiki said...

What a great interview! I am definately entering THIS giveaway! Oh, and a little award on my blog for you! http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=1009

Jessy said...

Who wouldn't want to live in Harry Potters world? I would live there everyday if I could!

Bere said...

Excellent interview, Kim! I loved Sarah's Twenty Boy Summer and I can't wait to read Fixing Delilah. Sounds like a wonderful read. And thanks so much for the contest, Kim. Count me in! =)

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

I don't think wanting to live in HP world is a cop out! It's the most vibrant magical world I've ever read =) I'd totally want to live there too. Great interview and thank you for the giveaway!