In my bid to support as many 2020 authors over the coming months, I am delighted to welcome another fab one to the blog today to talk about their new book and their writing journey thus far!
Check it out...
A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts' MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, Nora Shalaway Carpenter is the author of THE EDGE OF ANYTHING (Running Press Teen, March 24, 2020), contributing editor of RURAL VOICES: 15 AUTHORS CHALLENGE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT SMALL-TOWN AMERICA (Candlewick, Oct 13, 2020), and author of the picture book YOGA FROG (Running Press). Originally from rural West Virginia, she currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, three young children, and the world's most patient dog and cat.
Len is a loner teen photographer haunted by a past that's stagnated her work and left her terrified she's losing her mind. Sage is a high school volleyball star desperate to find a way around her sudden medical disqualification. Both girls need college scholarships. After a chance encounter, the two develop an unlikely friendship that enables them to begin facing their inner demons.
But both Len and Sage are keeping secrets that, left hidden, could cost them everything, maybe even their lives.
Set in the mountainous outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina, this gorgeous novel explores grief, mental health (#ownvoices), and how the transformative power of friendship can help us find ourselves and the goodness in life, even when everything feels broken.
Who are you and what do you write?
Hi Kate! Thank you so much for having me. I’m Nora Shalaway Carpenter, and I write (mostly) contemporary YA fiction. I also have a picture book out entitled YOGA FROG.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I started writing when I was really small. I’ve always loved telling stories, so as soon as I could write I was putting them on paper. I wrote about my pets, friends, aliens, and fantasy worlds. Anything was fair game. I recently found a piece I wrote in elementary school entitled “When Your Parents Get Upset.” LOL. I stopped writing creatively in college, however, and didn’t start again until I was 24. I’ll be 36 when THE EDGE OF ANYTHING publishes.
Nora's elementary writing!
Most of the main characters in THE EDGE OF ANYTHING are young women. Do you think male readers will enjoy the book?
Yes! I was recently on a podcast with a 25-year-old male host, and we spoke about this exact thing. He told me he loved the book and he hated the stereotype that boys and men aren’t interested in female characters. I am incredibly grateful for his perspective because I couldn’t agree more. I love what Caroline Paul says: “When a boy is directed to books that reflect only a narrow aspect of the world — often a part he already knows — or he is shamed for any interest in what is considered a “girl book,” his understanding of girls and of himself is devastatingly incomplete.” Some of my favorite books have male protagonists; why shouldn’t guys enjoy books with female or nonbinary protagonists? Books are one the best tool we have for gaining better understanding of one another. We do everyone a disservice when we don’t encourage boys to read books about people outside their worldview.
Sage is a volleyball star. Did you play volleyball?
I did. I have always loved sports, and volleyball in particular was a large part of my identity as a teen and young adult. It always bothered me growing up that I couldn’t find books about female athletes, about kids like me who loved both sports and more “nerdy” activities like reading and playing music. I wanted to create books that delved into the world and culture of sport, but that also went beyond the stereotypical notion of a “jock” character. In the beginning of the book, Sage defines herself by her volleyball prowess, but she is much more than that, too.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
For spring debuts like me, the coronavirus changed everything. We’ve all had events, school visits, and conferences cancelled, which is really hard because you prepare for those for so long and they are a great way to connect with readers. But the flip side is that so many people in the writing community (like you!) have been wonderful about reaching out to debut authors and helping to boost them. I can’t thank you enough for that.
As far as the most enjoyable, I don’t think anything really beats the moment I learned that my novel sold. Maybe seeing it in print for the first time. Now I’m most looking forward to talking to kids who’ve read it when it comes out.
Nora age 6!
Would you go back and change anything?
I don’t think so, because I’m happy with where I am right now, even if it took me longer than I’d have liked. But I do wish I could have time traveled and told young me that I was gonna write and publish books. That all the hours and work and heartache would eventually pay off. Maybe I would have kept writing between high school and age 25.
What’s on the horizon?
I’ve got another book coming out Oct 13, 2020 from Candlewick: RURAL VOICES: 15 AUTHORS CHALLENGE STEREOTYPES OF SMALL-TOWN AMERICA. It’s a mixed genre anthology and I’m the contributing editor. I’m also working on my next novel, another contemporary YA, this one set in rural West Virginia.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Read. And read everything, not just your preferred genre. Also, make sure you give yourself mental breaks. The writing life isn’t solely comprised of actual writing; it can’t happen without lived experiences, without daydreams and contemplation. If you’re in a writing jam, take a break and read. There’s really no better teacher of craft. Besides that, keeping going. Publishing is a tough and slow industry. But if you work at your craft, if you learn to revise and re-vision, and you remain persistent, I believe you’ll make it.
And finally for fun...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Ketchup
Night or Day? - Day
Inside or Outside? - Outside (unless it’s mosquito season.)
Dogs or Cats? - I abstain. I love both. 😊
Twitter or Facebook? - Facebook
Ebook or Paperback? - Paperback
Sun or Rain? - Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy
Chips or Chocolate? - Chocolate
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!