I can’t even tell you how excited we are to have Sara Zarr here as part of our Twitterview series. I adored The Lucy Variations, which is out today, and I loved being able to pick her brain about the book, as well as her prior books, about her podcast “This Creative Life” and much, much more. Since I had her, I asked her as much as I could!
I’m also giving away a copy of The Lucy Variations.
Without further ado, Sara:
Pitch The Lucy Variations in 140 characters.
16-year-old retired concert pianist reclaims her life & love of music with the help of her little brother’s cute (married) piano teacher
What inspired The Lucy Variations?
My midlife crisis & my own creative crisis, which is handily disguised in life of teen girl. Also by my experiences mentoring/being mentored
The Lucy Variations is your first novel in third-person. What made you choose that direction?
Limited 3rd allowed me to do some different things w/story than I could in 1st, while keeping close connection to character
This book tackles passion and the desire one feels to create. Did writing this feel like looking into a mirror at times?
Absolutely! It’s very much about my relationship w/ writing & writing career & how they’re 2 different things that can feel in conflict
Music plays a large role in The Lucy Variations. What music inspired you while writing it?
Junip and Jose Gonzalez were on heavy rotation in drafting, also the Shins
If Lucy’s story had a soundtrack, what would be the first, middle, and last tracks?
1. The Shins: The Rifle’s Spiral 2. Junip: In Every Direction 3. Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons
What, if anything, should readers walk away with from The Lucy Variations?
I’m always happy if they walk away with a great reading experience! Beyond that, it’s such an individual thing.
Talk a bit about the change in title and cover direction for your novel Once Was Lost, now What We Lost.
I blogged about this in some detail, but basically it’s about finding as many readers for the book as possible.
What character do you most relate to from your novels? Why?
Right now, Lucy, because her struggle to protect the love of her creative work from external demands has been mine.
If you can’t answer that definitively, what character do you think about and revisit the most? Why?
Deanna from Story of a Girl is still so real to me. I picture her out there, living her life. I feel like I could run into her on the street
You’ve developed a podcast over the last year, “This Creative Life.” What inspired its creation?
The love of talking about what it feels like to be inside the creative process, and the sense it would be valuable to others, too
What has been some of the most valuable insight you’ve gained through your Podcast guests?
That we’re not alone, that there’s no one right way to do this thing, that it’s worth doing even when it’s hard
Who is your dream guest for “This Creative Life?”
They are all my dream guests! I wish I could resurrect Robert Cormier and have him on.
What gets you jazzed to write?
Reading, walking, staring into space, and mostly not wanting to hate myself at the end of the day!
Who or what do you write for?
I write for the sense that it’s my vocation & if I don’t do it I’m rejecting something fundamental about who I am & the life I’ve been given
What scares you the most about writing or the writing process?
I’m always scared that what’s coming out onto the page isn’t good, and I won’t know how to make it good. I want it to be perfect.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to explore in your writing but have been too fearful to do yet?
I’d like to explore the experiences of adulthood and not disguise them in lives of teen girls. That feels more self-exposing.
What’s been the most satisfying part of your career to date?
Hard to choose, but the friendships & peer connections I’ve had the opportunity to form because of being a writer mean so much to me
You’ve purposefully chosen to change your writing routine in the last year. Can you talk about that decision?
The main thing was that I took a break from signing contracts. I just needed a pause to gather myself & be thoughtful about what to do next
Now that you’re developing new routines, what, if anything, do you remind yourself of? What compels you to keep going?
Like Lucy, I want to stay connected both to myself & to audience. But it has to come from sense of calling, not fear of letting others down
Who are your top three writing influences?
I could list authors, but I think the real writing influences are more the people who’ve mentored & befriended me along the way.
What was your most influential read as a teenager?
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier made me want to be a writer. Madeleine L’Engle’s House Like a Lotus stirred me up the most.
Who do you believe is breaking ground in YA right now?
I love what Matthew Quick is doing, and more people need to be reading Steve Brezenoff. Of course I’m a bit biased toward contemp realism
What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
“More poetry!” (Friend/writer Nicole Stansbury told me this & made me attentive to thinking about beauty in the midst of storytelling.)
What’s your best writing advice to give?
If you’ve never finished anything: finish. If you’ve finished: learn to be a great self-editor. This is accomplished by reading a lot.
What’s next for you?
A book I wrote with Tara Altebrando, Roomies, will be out at the end of the year. After that, who knows?
Favorite ice cream?
If I could tolerate sugar and dairy, some unholy trinity of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, Peanut Butter Cup, and Cookie Dough.