Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Author Interview: Shari Maurer

Hello internet! Today I am pleased to welcome Shari Maurer to the blog. Shari is the author of Change of Heart which was released by Westside Books on 23 April 2010. Change of Heart is an endearing story about a teen girl whose life is turned upside down when she learns that she needs a heart transplant. Its a book that will touch your heart and make you think about what is important. I hope that you enjoy learning a little bit more about Shari and her book, Change of Heart, as I had a lot of fun interviewing her.

First off…tell us a little about you?

I live in New City, NY—an NYC suburb where I also grew up. I’ve got 2 ½ teenagers in my house (my daughter is 15, my son is 13 and my other son thinks he’s 13, but he’s only 10). Life is filled with sports, dance, homework, etc. and my house is often overrun with kids. Somewhere in between it all, I try to find time to write.

What is your writing process like?

My best writing happens with a big cup of coffee next to me and my iTunes playing softly in the background. I was finding the internet was easily distracting me, so I bought a netbook, with the firm rule that I can’t do any internet stuff (well, okay, I do allow myself to check e-mail occasionally, but that’s all).

Which line do you find more difficult to write? The first or the last?

It varies from book to book. With Change of Heart, my editor and I struggled with that last line. I’m a big believer in the importance of first lines. I love that Emmi’s first line is: “Don’t give up.” It works for the first scene, but it’s really a theme of the book.

When you write, which comes first title, plot or character(s)?

With Change of Heart, I got the title pretty early and knew that I wanted it to have several meanings so I was able to form the plot from that (you’ll have to read it to understand!)

Where did you get the idea for Change of Heart?

My husband is a cardiologist who cares for patients who are waiting for heart transplants. One day we were watching a program on heart transplants on Discovery Health and there was a little girl on the program who was waiting for a transplant. I was absolutely haunted by the look on her face as they wheeled her into the OR to receive her transplant and my writer wheels started turning.

Which of your characters is most like you? Are any based on real people?

Both Emmi and her mother probably have a little of me in them. Emmi certainly has my crummy, difficult hair. I have a daughter and two younger sons, so the structure of the family mirrors mine (and my daughter would say, so do the annoying, always wrestling, brothers). I have an Aunt Mindy, but I only borrowed her name—she’s nothing like Aunt Mindy in the book. For that matter, I borrowed lots of names from our friends and family. Thanks, everyone!

When you finish a book who reads it first?

My daughter is often my first reader. She is the one who has dictated what and how I write. When I started writing Change of Heart, she asked for short chapters and IMing. I’ve included both of those and I think it makes for a very quick and easy read. Last summer she came home from sleepaway camp so happy and obsessed, that I decided to set my next book at a camp.

I also have a critique group with two very talented writers. They are amazing at looking at what I wrote and seeing exactly what works and doesn’t work. I can’t speak enough about the importance of having good critiquers.

Ugh....short chapters are the worst! They are just so dangerous! I often find myself up far later at night than planned because I tell myself just one more chapter since this next one is so short....authors of the short chapter are just evil....evil I say! lol 

I also love how your daughter is the first to read your books. What a great way to tap into your target auidence and to also do a bit of bonding at the same time. =)

What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?

Stealing Razzles (“first it’s a candy, then it’s a gum”) from a candy store. My parents made me go back into the store and confess.

haha I did something similar once....and got caught as well....man did that walk into the store suck.

What’s your idea of the best meal ever? What sort of foods do you like to eat when you are sick?

We play the game “What would your deathbed meal be?” at my house. (It comes after the “What’s your favorite chocolate: milk, dark or white?” game.) Mine would be vichyssoise for my appetizer, tuna steak au poive with spinach and mashed potatoes for the main course and then white chocolate mousse pie for dessert. Yum!

When I’m sick, I don’t eat much. Mainly I drink a lot of tea.

For the record....my favorite chocolate is Dark....followed by white. I only like Milk if its Cadburys from the UK. You know....inf case anyone out there ever wants to send me chocolate. ;-)

What’s something that made you laugh out loud today?

My kids make me laugh on a regular basis. My husband and his brothers have great senses of humor and it seems to be genetic.

If we were able to take a peek at your nightstand, what book(s) might we find there?

My TBR pile right now is HUGE! I’m currently reading Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready, who is a Class of 2K10 mate of mine. Next up: Harmonic Feedback by fellow Tenner Tara Kelly. I’m part of two groups of debut authors: the Class of 2K10 and The Tenners and have been enjoying their books. They all have so many amazing books out, which explains my huge TBR pile.

I have both those books on my Mt TBR too. Really need more time to read!

What is the book that you most want to read again for the first time?

To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my all-time favorites.

ooohhh.....good choice! LOVE TKAM!

Are there any books that you might have lied about reading (we promise we won’t judge)?

I was an English major in college, so I’ve had to read a lot of the classics. I don’t think I’ve ever lied about it, though. And I don’t think I ever read the Cliff Notes (1980’s version of Spark Notes) instead of the book.

What’s a book you’ve been a book bully for? (ie one you’ve liked so much that you practically beat people over the head just to get them to read it)

I’m in a book club. Lately, we’ve been taking turns making the selection, so once every eight books I actually get to be the official bully and they don’t have a choice! My pick this month is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I had an exciting fan girl moment at BEA last month. I met Laurie, who was so lovely and gracious and welcomed me to the “sisterhood of published authors” as she put it. I even got to tell her that our book club was reading Wintergirls. I would bully for almost all of Laurie’s books—I think they’re the gold standard of YA writing.

The Zombie Apocalypse has started, do you have a zombie plan? Can you share your plan with us?

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had to Google “Zombie Apocalypse” to figure out what it was. But now that I know, I guess it would be to throw everyone in the car with as much food and water as we can fit and head to my parents’ house in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. They’re pretty isolated up there, so maybe the zombies wouldn’t find us.

Note to self: do not rely on Shari when the Zombie Apocalypse comes....

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I have a wonderful book that my agent and I are trying to find a home (more details soon, hopefully). And as I mentioned earlier, I’m writing a book set at summer camp. I won’t go into more details, but right now it’s a promising first draft that needs A LOT of work. I’m looking forward to having some concentrated writing time this summer to get it to where it needs to be for me to allow it to leave my house.

Loved summer camp as a kid - though I only went for one summer - so looking forward to another book about it. =)

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ve been talking the opportunity during this blog tour to speak as often as possible about the importance of organ donation. Emmi waits a long time for a heart and this is not atypical. Please consider registering to become an organ donor. I hope you never need it, but if something awful happens, it would be great to know that you could save several lives. For more info go to: www.donatelife.net. Thanks!

This interview is cross-posted on Ticket to Anywhere.


Post a Comment