{Interview/Autographed Giveaway} Sara Kocek and Sara Polsky, authors of PROMISE ME SOMETHING and THIS IS HOW I FIND HER

Visit the rest of the tour for more great reviews, interviews,
and chances to win your own copy of PROMISE ME SOMETHING and THIS IS HOW I FIND HER!

Tomorrow's stop is over at Becky's Barmy Book Blog and features a guest post with Sara Kocek!

Check out my reviews of both PROMISE ME SOMETHING and THIS IS HOW I FIND HER
(These will also get you more entries in the GIVEAWAY!)

Enter below to WIN YOUR OWN  AUTOGRAPHED COPIES of both books!!!

An interview with 
Sara Polsky and Sara Kocek:
Sara2 Blog Tour Stop

Sara Kocek is the author of PROMISE ME SOMETHING (Albert Whitman Teen, 2013). She received her BA in English from Yale University and her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates. A freelance editor and college essay coach, Sara has served as the Program Director at the Writers’ League of Texas, a literary nonprofit. She is also the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, a team of freelance editors and writing coaches based in Austin, Texas.
Visit Sara on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook!

Sara Polsky’s debut YA novel, This is How I Find Her, will be published by Albert Whitman in fall 2013. Her fiction has appeared in Fictitious Force and Behind the Wainscot. She is represented by Suzie Townsend. Sara is a writer and editor at Curbed NY, and her articles and essays have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Forward, Poets & Writers, and other publications. She lives in New York City.
Visit Sara on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook!

First up . . .

Sara Kocek!

What inspired you to write PROMISE ME SOMETHING?

SK: I have been writing this book—or parts of it, anyway—since I was in high school. That’s how long Olive and Reyna have been lurking in the back of my mind. I love stories about complicated friendships, particularly where the two friends in question are foils of each other. Reyna is shy and withdrawn; Olive is loud and brash. Reyna cares desperately what others think about her; Olive professes not to care. Reyna doesn’t care about politics; Olive is passionate about a range of issues. I wanted to explore the clash between these two very different personalities and what happens when they grow close against the odds.

Starting at a new school is always tough. I went through a similar situation to Reyna's when I graduated from elementary school because my neighborhood was in a different school zone from all of my friends. I can't imagine having to go through that in high school. What is your advice for teens going through this situation?

SK: I feel your pain. This is such a tough situation, and there is no easy answer. Fortunately, there is one upside: you’re not as alone as you think you are. Not only are there other people who have probably been redistricted away from their friends, but there are also likely a handful of other new students starting in your same year—including people who just moved from another city or state and literally don’t know anybody. Another upside is that being new gives you a chance to reinvent yourself and start with a fresh impression. My advice is to take things slowly and try to balance your old friendships with the new ones you start to form. But don’t expect the new friendships to be just like the old ones. They’ll be different in all sorts of ways—hopefully good ones.

I think it's great that you created a friendship between a new girl and a school outcast. It's a very brave situation that isn't written about nearly enough. What made you explore this route?

SK: Olive and Reyna are a natural pair in that they are both desperate for a friend at school. Even though Reyna doesn’t really like Olive at first, she also feels like she doesn’t have much of a choice. As she puts it, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” I was intrigued by the idea that even though Olive is the one who gets bullied at school, she sort of bullies Reyna into being her friend, mainly because she recognizes that Reyna is just as lonely as she is. I also wanted to show that friendships grow and evolve and make us better people. While Reyna is put off by Olive in the beginning, she ultimately grows fond of her. And when push comes to shove, she has to find the courage to channel her inner Olive and do the right thing—the thing Olive herself would want her to do.

What was your favorite scene to write in PROMISE ME SOMETHING? The hardest?

SK: My favorite scene to write was the one at Olive’s house where her mother gallops out of the house on a stuffed animal pony, totally drunk. Not that I’m saying alcoholism is funny. Quite the opposite; I actually find Mrs. Barton to be the saddest character in the entire book. But you have to admit—the image of a grown woman stumbling around the yard with a huge stuffed animal between her legs is kind of funny. I had fun with the dialogue in that scene. 

The hardest scene for me to write was the Valentine’s Day party, mainly because I was a nerd in high school and never went to any big parties—at least not ones with alcohol. The image in my head of a rowdy high school party was pretty much pulled from movies and TV. I think the scene might have been more unique if I had more real life party experience to draw from.

What are you working on now?

SK: I’m working on a contemporary YA mystery called THE CHESHIRE CHRONICLE. It’s about girl named Jude who wants to be Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper. But every issue, a new article is published sabotaging one of the staff members. The saboteur is someone from within—someone on staff who wants to destroy the reputation of the paper and everyone involved. Jude has to solve the mystery and expose the saboteur—otherwise she’s next in line.

Next Up . . .

Sara Polsky!

What inspired you to write THIS IS HOW I FIND HER?

The first inspiration was the characters, specifically Sophie and her cousin Leila. They showed up in my head and I was intrigued by their relationship, so I started writing about them. I've also known people who, like Sophie's mother in the book, have dealt with mental illness, so a second inspiration was that experience of trying to understand mental illness from the outside.

What advice do you have for teens in similar situations to Sophie's who have loved ones suffering from mental illness and are forced to "become" the parent?

My first piece of advice would be to talk to someone who is in a position to help, like a counselor or a doctor. Keep trying even if it takes a few attempts to find someone who is able to help.

What sort of research did you do when creating Sophie's mother, an integral character to the novel?

I read a lot of memoirs by people who have bipolar disorder or who have had depression. They helped me understand what the experience might be like from the perspective of Amy, Sophie's mom.

What was your favorite scene to write in THIS IS HOW I FIND HER? The hardest?

My two favorite scenes are the scene early on when Sophie arrives at her aunt's and uncle's house, because I loved trying to capture the tension in their relationship, and a later scene in Sophie's English class, when some of her classmates present a group project about Sylvia Plath. 

The hardest scenes to write were the ones between Sophie and her aunt and uncle. While most of the characters' personalities came to me early on, it took me a long time to figure out Sophie's Uncle John and Aunt Cynthia and how she would interact with them.

What are you working on now?

I'm in the early stages of another contemporary YA novel.

Sara and Sara, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and chat! Congratulations on your debuts! I think both books will strike chords with readers in so many lasting ways!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Sara Kocek
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2013
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company 

As if starting high school weren't bad enough, Reyna Fey has to do so at a new school without her best friends. Reyna's plan is to keep her head down, help her father recover from the car accident that almost took his life, and maybe even make some friends. And then Olive Barton notices her. Olive is not exactly the kind of new friend Reyna has in mind. The boys make fun of her, the girls want to fight her, and Olive seems to welcome the challenge. There's something about Olive that Reyna can't help but like. But when Reyna learns Olive's secret, she must decide whether it's better to be good friends with an outcast or fake friends with the popular kids. . . .before she loses Olive forever.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Sara Polsky
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2013
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company 

Sophie Canon has just started her junior year when her mother tries to kill herself. Sophie has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother's bipolar disorder, monitoring her medication, rushing home after school to check on her instead of spending time with friends, and keeping her mother's diagnosis secret from everyone outside their family. But when the overdose lands Sophie's mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, from whom she has been estranged for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family's house is easy. What's harder is figuring out how to build her own life.


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  1. Thanks for posting! Would love to win these books to add to the teen collection at our library.

  2. I've been reading a lot of YA sci fi and dystopian recently, but both of these contemporaries interest me. Great comments, too!


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