I am thrilled to be kicking off the tour for Isabel Gillies’s debut YA novel, Starry Night, publishing on September 2! Check out my QA with the author below, along with the fun extra info about the book, and then enter to win your very own copy! Big thanks to Isabel (AKA Kathy Stabler for all you fellow Law and Order: SVU fans) for answering my questions and Macmillan for organizing the tour
Q: Where did you get the idea for Starry Night? Is the story inspired by a personal experience?
A: Starry Night has had a long and twisty road — but a fun one. I was inspired by love, teenagers, family, friends, school, walks in Central Park, heartbreak. And yes, lots of it was inspired by my own experiences, how could it not be? But a ton of it is made up, too. I think of it like a blended soup. All the vegetables go into the pot looking like what they are: broccoli, potatoes, etc, but then you put an emersion blender in there, whiz it around, and it transforms into something entirely different in texture and shape, even the taste will change. So if there was anything “real” from my life at the start of the book, it’s been soup-i-fied.
Q: You’ve had two highly successful memoirs published in the past few years. What made you want to switch gears and write a young adult novel, and what was the hardest part about making the switch?
A: I needed a break from memoir. It’s sort of exhausting to reveal so much of yourself that is real real real, so real people can say, “I remember when that happened!” I knew that I wanted to try fiction and I adore teenagers. I have three tweens in the house and I am fascinated by them. It’s definitely the most fun I have had as a mother. I love their conversations, their points of view, their ideas. I even love the back-talk! It’s scary because they are on their own in many ways, and have to fall down so they will learn how to navigate their way in life, but it’s colorful and rich and exciting. I LOVED being a teenager. The highs and lows are extremely clear, the feelings are big, bold, and so much happens. I fell in love for the first time as a teenager and it blew my socks off! I couldn’t get over how intense and incredible it was. It made sense to try my hand at fiction and have the main characters be teenagers. But it’s HARD! Writing fiction is so hard I had no idea. It took me three entire 400 page drafts just to get something that didn’t stink. I love this book for a couple different reasons, but one big one is that I did it at all!
Q: Can you share a phrase from Starry Night that you’re most proud of?
A: Well, the parts that keep popping to the top of my head are all the conversations Wren has with her parents Nan and David. I wanted to make the parents and secondary characters feel real and flushed out. In my first draft I neglected to do that. I didn’t mean to leave them out but I was so focused on Wren and Nolan I sort of spaced out on everyone else. My editor alerted me to this mistake and so I spent the rest of my time writing the book thinking hard about everyone who surrounds Nolan and Wren. Wren’s little sister Dinah says funny stuff — I dig her. Actually one thing Dinah says is, “Your ass is grass.” Anytime I think of her saying that in the book I smile.
Q: What are some of your favorite YA books? Did any inspire your writing in Starry Night?
A: Oh I love Judy Blume. I loved her when I was a teenager and I loved reading her The Pain & The Great One series to my kids not so long ago. She is awesome. I loved Wonder, The Catcher In The Rye, The Outsiders, The Fault in Our Stars, and Every Day by David Levithan. I love watching my kids read so many great looking books that I wish I could read, but end up not reading because I fall asleep too fast at night. I love and am inspired by John Hughes movies, and I know they are not books, but who cares if the work stays with you, feels true and real and inspires you all over the place.
Q: If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: This answer could go a million ways, but today, I think I would like to meet J.K Rowling. My kids are reading The Harry Potter series for the second time and they are OBSESSED — again! They all talk and talk and talk about Harry and Hogwarts, etc etc until the light goes out and they fall asleep. Those books melted in to all three of my children and I would love to go on a long walk with the author just to feel her vibe.
Learn more about Isabel Gillies and Starry Night
Add Starry Night to your to-read list on Goodreads
Join in on social media with #StarryNight
Check out Isabel’s website, follow her on Twitter, ‘like’ her on Facebook, and follow her on Tumblr
Isabel’s Upcoming Public Events
Saturday, August 30: Decatur Book Festival - Map of My Heart Panel (Decatur, GA)
Tuesday September 2: Barnes & Noble Upper West Side - Launch Event with John Searles (New York, NY)
Sunday, September 14: Books of Wonder - Debut Author Panel (New York, NY)
Saturday, September 27: The Voracious Reader - Reading/Signing (Larchmont, NY)
Starry Night Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, August 26: Fiction Folio
Wednesday, August 27: The Compulsive Reader
Thursday, August 28: Green Bean Teen Queen
Friday, August 29: Paper Cuts
Saturday, August 30: Love is Not a Triangle
Sunday, August 31: Gone With the Words
Monday, September 1: Mac Teen Books
Tuesday, September 2: Jenuine Cupcakes
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