Authors are tagging each other with a questionnaire about what they’re working on now. I was tagged by Karen Bass, who was tagged by Marsha Skrypuch. To read Karen’s answers, go here. To read Marsha’s answers, go here.
What is your working title of your book?
Cut the Lights
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The director of a student-written Fringe Festival play is at odds with her cast, until the attempted suicide of the lead actor forces them to work together.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Sarah Harvey, editor at Orca Book Publishers and a YA author of nine books so far, contacted me about her brilliant idea for a new series of YA novels about the performing arts. Since singing, dancing and acting are currently popular among teens, she proposed a series — titled Limelights — aimed at 11- to 14-year-olds. I discussed a few ideas with Sarah, and we narrowed it down to two. I then picked the idea that I felt I could best write.
What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary YA fiction
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Since I’m terrible at remembering actors’ names, I’m not fit to answer this question. I would hope they would be quirky, brilliant, up-and-coming actors who would have the chance to showcase their incredible talents.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Orca Book Publishers in Fall 2013 as one of three debut books in the Limelights series. The series will also debut with novels by Tom Ryan, who published his first novel in 2012, and Robin Stevenson, author of over 15 books for kids and teens.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This book took four months from conception to completion of a readable draft that I was willing to show my editor. This timeline is unusually fast for me — I typically ponder more and my books are usually longer. This novel is about 20,000 words since it’s intended to be tight, short and action-packed. But no matter the length of the novel, the plotting, characterization and so on still takes the same amount of time. Basically, there are no shortcuts in writing.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Although the popularity of TV shows as American Idol, Glee, So You Think You Can Dance and The Voice show that teens are into singing, dancing and so on, there are few books about the performing arts, and none written with younger teen readers in mind. One example is Bunheads, a great novel by Sophie Flack, which my teen daughter devoured.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This book captures my love for theatre. I became hooked at an early age after seeing performances at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada, and I later took drama courses in high school and university. For me, theatre provides the opportunity to examine our world through a finely tuned lens.
This book also deals with a hard reality — the attempted suicide of a friend or loved one — which I’ve faced more than once in my life. This novel is my attempt to understand how such an event affects a tight community, like the actors and director of a play. Why does a young person with great potential attempt suicide? How does a community cope with it? How can the show go on when something so dire, so painful, occurs?
We all face trying times during our lives. Performing arts, such as the theatre, can be a great comfort and a great source of insight into how to move forward.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
For readers interested in the theatre, this novel gives insight into how to direct a play. What does a director do? How do you envision a stage production, manage the personalities of the actors and stage manager, and work with lighting and sound? Somehow, a production always falls apart weeks before opening night only to magically come together at the last minute.