Hi guys! Today, I'm interviewing Emily Martin about her writing and her book - The Year We Fell Apart. I've always been drawn to the cover art of the novel and it was great to know the book beyond the blurb. We're giving away signed swag (swag lovers out there, this one is for you)!
Contemporary novels are said to be the hardest to write. A writer has to make it strong, emotionally hooking and naturally interesting. How do you manage this? What is the special ingredient of The Year We Fell Apart?
For me, a lot of the appeal of contemporary YA comes down to the voice--which is always very subjective. Harper's sharp and often sarcastic voice started whispering in my head before the story idea was even fully formed. And once I developed the idea a bit more, it felt like the perfect fit for her journey. She uses her voice almost as a shield, and usually says the most hurtful things when she's in a lot of pain herself.
Above all, I just tried to tell an honest story, which I think is what gives readers an emotional hook. This meant I couldn't protect Harper, even from herself, even when my finger was hovering over the delete key and I wanted so badly to change her course. I had to let her make her own mistakes, and let her get hurt, and staying honest certainly made for an emotional experience while drafting.
Tell us more about Harper and Declan. Their relationship seemed to be quite complicated, based on the premise. How did you develop their relationship?
They definitely have a complicated relationship, in the way only two people who have known each other forever can have. Harper and Declan grew up together, and know each other better than anyone. The first scene I wrote between them was what turned out to be the climax, when all their hurt and frustration is finally coming to a head, and I sort of worked my way backwards from there to figure out how two people who care so deeply for each other could end up there. I also wrote a lot of scenes that didn't make it into the book, but which did help me flesh out the dynamic between them--their inside jokes and the things they bicker about. These details helped me shape their interactions with each other in the present of the novel, and in flashbacks.
Harper is a flawed character. Personally, I find it hard to have a flawed character - it might make or break a story for me. How did you write and develop Harper as a character?
She definitely is, and there was just no way around that for me. The premise of the novel is how mistakes can come to govern your whole outlook, and Harper has spent the last year making rather questionable choices. It becomes a pattern, and the more other people begin to notice and label her for her choices, the more difficult it is for her to see past them. Again this just came down to telling the most truthful story I could--we all make mistakes, especially when we're afraid of the potential outcomes of a different choice. And for Harper, some of the fears that drive her to make these bad choices are deep-rooted. I had to be patient with her, and hope that she would eventually figure out another path.
How different is final version of The Year We Fell Apart from its original version?
They are VERY different stories! My first draft was written during National Novel Writing Month, so it was messy and rambling and not very interesting, even to me. It was also in the past tense instead of present, which is a change I made around my third draft. I wrote many drafts before this novel was ready for others to read, and with each draft the characters were rounded out a bit more and the timeline clarified. I also cut the weakest scenes of each draft before moving onto the next.
Do you have a lot of deleted scenes? Do you have a specific scene or a few lines that you could share with us?
Yes! There are a number of cut scenes between Harper and Declan, which are cut for good reason. :) Some are scenes that no longer fit with the manuscript as it evolved, while others just weren't strong enough to drive the plot forward. But I value every deleted scene, because they all helped me flesh out their characters and dynamic around each other in some way. I also have several cut scenes between Harper and her new best friend, Sadie. Again these were scenes that didn't end up fitting the novel, but one that always made me giggle was when they played a game they made up called Scrue, which is basically Clue...but with scandalous results.
Thanks so much for having me!
Thank you, Emily!
Emily Martin grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. She attended graduate school in North Carolina, where she fell in love with sweet potato pancakes, deep fried pickles, and the boy who later became her husband. Emily now lives and writes in Boston, Massachusetts. The Year We Fell Apart is her first novel. You can find Emily online at EmilyMartinWrites.com, or follow her on Twitter @ThatEmilyMartin.
Follow Emily: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Simon Pulse
In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.
Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.
Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.
While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.
As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.
Thank you to Emily for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Signed Swag of The Year We Fell Apart
Scope: US and CA
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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