Cross-posted with As The Eraser Burns.
Happy book birthday to regional member Jeri Smith-Ready for today’s release of THIS SIDE OF SALVATION! Jeri is the author of several books including her young adult Shade Trilogy and she’s joining us today in the cyber chair for some coffee & conversation on her latest young adult novel that takes a turn for the contemporary:
Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.
Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.
But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined….
[A] smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale…bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self—while never being heavy-handed. — Booklist, **Starred Review**
This is a frighteningly realistic story that delicately handles the issues of religion and family—an emotional mystery sure to be popular and perfect for discussion. —VOYA, **Highlighted (Starred) Review**
THIS SIDE OF SALVATION is impossible to pigeonhole. It’s a mystery, a love story, a tale of friendship, of prejudice, and of a family overcoming tragedy; and at its heart, it’s a difficult conundrum for our time, exploring the fine line between true faith and exploitative fanaticism with humor and sensitivity. I fell hard for David’s inspired, likeable voice. Throughout the book I found myself alternately aching for his family and their suffering, wanting to kick them for their stupidity, and breathlessly hoping they weren’t all going to end up dead. David’s remarkable spiritual journey is painfully believable—and what better way to contrast the otherworldly mysticism of religion than with the physical mysticism of baseball? Jeri Smith-Ready has her finger on the pulse of American youth. — Printz Honor winner and NYT Bestseller Elizabeth Wein
And now that Jeri is settled in the cyber chair with her favorite snack, “Nomz,” what she calls a trail mix she makes with almonds, granola, and cereal, and her favorite coffeehouse beverage, a soy latte…
Let’s get started! Okay, Jeri, easy ones first: What was your favorite book as a child?
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
As a teen?
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.
And now, what’s your favorite book as an adult?
Everyday by David Levithan
I really need to read that book! Okay, how were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?
On May 20, 2011, the night before the Harold Camping predicted the Rapture was going to happen, I heard a story on NPR about the children of his followers and how they had to give up everything important to them to prepare for the end of the world. I felt bad for them because when you’re young, you’re all about the future—especially teenagers—and to be told that the world was not only ending but it was something you were supposed to be happy about really disturbed me. The idea for my book sprung from that.
What is your favorite line(s) from this book?
“I think we get the world we deserve. People who love get love back, and people who hate, or fear, they get those back too.”
If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?
The US Ambassador for Russia.
Good one! Now, you’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! What’s the first book you crack open?
Just One Day, Gale Foreman
For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?
You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?
A pair of custom-made chucks.
If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words or less, what would they be?
Live a lot!
And finally, the lightning round—no more than four words per answer! Do you . . .
Outline or wing it? Open-minded outline.
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Zipped.
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Usually proposal.
Prefer writing rough drafts or editing? Editing.
Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Dread blogging, love marketing.
Read Kindle or traditional books? Both.
And finally, what’s your favorite Time to work? Late afternoon.
Music to listen to while writing? Indie.
Writing tool? Scribner.
Pair of shoes? Sketchers.
Guiltiest pleasure? Dancing with the Stars. (But I don’t feel guilty about it. :))
Line from a movie? “The past is just a story we tell ourselves,” from the movie HER.
Great line! And thanks, Jeri, for stopping by. We wish you the very best with THIS SIDE OF SALVATION!