Author Spotlight: Sarah Nicole Smetana Talks About The Midnights

It’s a brand new year in YA and Children’s Literature – which means it’s time to pass the debut author baton to a new group of writers. It’s a pleasure to welcome the Class of 2k18 and their debut novels into the world this year, and I’m extra pleased to get to feature some of them on my blog.

Author Spotlight | Sarah Nicole Smetana Talks About The Midnights | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Sarah Nicole Smetana and her debut novel THE MIDNIGHTS

Title:  THE MIDNIGHTS

Genre:  Contemporary YA

Age Range:  14+

Launch Date:  March 6, 2018


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Taking place in Southern California, THE MIDNIGHTS is about an aspiring musician struggling to hold onto herself and her music after her father’s unexpected death uproots more than just long-buried family secrets.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

The simple answer is that the book was inspired by my experiences in the music scene as a teenager, as well as California in general. But as a coming-of-age story, I’d also say it was inspired by the process most teenagers go through of trying to figure out who they are, where they belong in the world, and how to best pursue their passions.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

The writing process was… long. I began this book, in earnest, about six months before I started my MFA program, and then it went through two years of writing and scrapping and rewriting and tearing apart the insides just looking for the real story. After figuring that out, it took a few more years to write the darn thing. And, all in all, I probably wrote hundreds of pages that were eventually deleted or reconfigured entirely. Seven years passed between the time I started really working on THE MIDNIGHTS, and now, when it’s hitting shelves.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

Ms. Kim, my AP English Lit teacher in high school. She’s married now and has a different last name but I will forever call her Ms. Kim. I had her class for 0 period my senior year, which was pretty rough because it was so early in the morning, but Ms. Kim was such an incredible teacher, so passionate and so fun. I didn’t actually do any creative writing there, but the class definitely expanded my love of reading. We tore apart these complex novels that I never would have understood or appreciated otherwise, and I think working like that—really isolating and assigning meaning to all the pieces in a work of fiction—helped guide me when I decided to start writing fiction of my own.

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

Wow, this is a great question, and one I’ve never thought about! Other than it being a story about growing up and trying to figure out who you are (which I hope teen readers can identify with!), I think it would be a fun exercise to look closely at the setting as a literary device, and explore how it affects the protagonist and the story. The setting (and the weather in particular) was a big factor for me when writing, and it plays a very important role. We are, after all, a product of where we are raised. And sometimes, a place is really quite different from how it appears to an outsider.

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

I have two favorite dogs, but I’ll just talk about one: Juno, the white German shepherd that my parents got a few years before I was born. When I came into the family, Juno was already part of it—and this, I’ve always thought, was really special. I never knew the world without having a big, loving dog by my side. She was my best friend until I was about twelve, when she passed. I still miss her.

 

Author Spotlight | Sarah Nicole Smetana Talks About The Midnights | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSarah Nicole Smetana grew up in Orange, California, where she wrote songs, played in a few bands, and successfully pilfered all of her parents’ best vinyl records. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University and her MFA in Fiction from The New School. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their three-legged cat. The Midnights (HarperTeen/HarperCollins) is her first novel.

You can find Sarah at her website and on:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Goodreads

You can pick up a copy at THE MIDNIGHTS at your favorite local bookstore on March 6, or pre-order online now.

Thanks, Sarah!

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2017 Debut Book Love – The Thing with Feathers

Fellow Class of 2k17 member McCall Hoyle’s debut novel, THE THING WITH FEATHERS, released earlier this month. This is YA at its best – and teachers and librarians are going to want more than one copy of this book on their shelves.

2017 Debut Book Love | The Thing with Feathers | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comEmilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.

Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.

Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”

THE THINGS WITH FEATHERS is a touching story and a compelling read. Teens will love it – but so will adults.

The Thing with FeathersThe Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful book – full of hope. McCall Hoyle’s YA debut captures the fears and excitement of edging past what’s comfortable and safe – and learning to trust the people around you. The writing is lovely and the characters are perfectly drawn – likeable but flawed, and at all times, believable.

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For readers

  • A relate-able hero.
  • A sweet romance.
  • A school environment/community that teens will recognize.

For teachers

  • Emily Dickinson!
  • Beautiful and heartfelt writing.
  • A close look at facing fears and finding your way to acceptance.

THE THING WITH FEATHERS is available now. You can pick up a copy at your local bookstore or online at:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells

patriciabaileyauthor.com

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2017 Debut Book Love – The Shadows We Know By Heart

the shadows we know by heartFellow Class of 2k17 Books member Jennifer Park’s incredible YA debut, THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART, releases today and it is quite simply the book you did not know you have been waiting for all of your life.

Leah Roberts’s life has never been the same since her brother died ten years ago. Her mother won’t stop drinking, her father can’t let go of his bitter anger, and Leah herself has a secret she’s told no one: Sasquatch are real, and she’s been watching a trio of them in the woods behind her house for years.

Everything changes when Leah discovers that among the Sasquatch lives a teenager. This alluring, enigmatic boy has no memory of his past and can barely speak, but Leah can’t shake his magnetic pull. Gradually, Leah’s life entwines with his, providing her the escape from reality she never knew she needed.

But when Leah’s two worlds suddenly collide in a deadly showdown, she uncovers a shocking truth as big and extraordinary as the legends themselves, one that could change her life forever.

Jennifer handles this Tarzan retelling perfectly. She tells this story about love and loss beautifully – with just the right blend of heart and mystery.

THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART is one of my favorite all-time YA reads. I cannot wait to share it with everyone I know.

The Shadows We Know by HeartThe Shadows We Know by Heart by Jennifer Park
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved every word of Jennifer Parks’s debut novel. The story is captivating from page one. Park plunges you into the East Texas woods until you feel like you’re part of the story and never want to leave. Great characters, a great setting, gorgeous writing and exactly the right amount of action/tension to keep you turning the pages. A haunting look at love, hope, and the lies we tell, this is a book I can’t wait to read again.

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For readers

  • An original love story.
  • A great, true-to-life sibling relationship.
  • A compelling mystery

For teachers

  • A beautifully drawn setting.
  • A unique retelling of a classic.
  • Flawed and likeable main characters.

THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART is on sale today. You can pick up a copy at your local bookstore or online at:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells

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Happy Book Birthday – ALLEGEDLY

Happy Book Birthday | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Happy book birthday to fellow Class of 2k17 member Tiffany Jackson!

Her YA debut, ALLEGEDLY, launches today!

Publisher’s Weekly called ALLEGEDLY “…intensely relevant, addressing race, age, and mental illness within the criminal justice system. Well conceived and executed, this is an absorbing and exceptional first novel.”

Kirkus described it as “Searing and true.”

 

I found it simply amazing.


allegedlyhc-003-285x430Nine-year-old Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly.

She didn’t say much during the trial but the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A three-month-old white baby had died under the care of a church going black mother and her daughter.
After spending six years in prison for the unthinkable crime, sixteen year old Mary discovers she is pregnant. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past while surviving life in a Brooklyn group home. But her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her mother.

Check out Tiffany at her website – and be sure to sign up for her Newsletter of Dopeness.

Then head over to you local bookstore or to one of these online vendors to pick up a copy.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Powells

Congratulations, Tiffany!

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Class of 2k17 Book Love: Allegedly

Class of 2k17 Books | PatriciaBaileyAuthor.comIt’s hard to believe that Class of 2k17 member Tiffany Jackson is a debut author and that ALLEGEDLY is a debut novel.

It’s just so good.

Which is why I was thrilled when Tiffany’s e-ARC ended up in my inbox. Just one of the many perks of being part of the super terrific debut group, Class of 2k17. Have I mentioned how lucky I am?

I read ALLEGEDLY over the course of a week – trying to make it last. It’s simply amazing. Dark and twisty and totally mind-bending. Thriller fans are going to eat this novel up – and people who don’t usually read thrillers are going to love the complex and heartbreaking character of Mary and the girls in her group home.


Allegedly
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunning debut. Dark. Heartbreaking. Powerful. Mary is a wonderfully complex character. Her story will catch you by the throat and not let you go until you’ve read the entire novel – and she’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished. The author, Tiffany Jackson, paints a unflinching portrait of our juvenile justice system while telling a compelling story – drawing you into Mary’s world, and making you question right, wrong, and everything in between.

A true thriller from the start.

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For readers:

  • Page turning suspense.
  • A complex and compelling character.
  • A thrilling read that will keep you second guessing what you know.

For teachers

  • A great example of building suspense and maintaining it.
  • An examination of complex narrators.
  • A rich jumping off place for discussion about juvenile justice, good, evil, and all the places in between.

Lucky for all of us, we won’t have to wait long to get this book in our hands. ALLEGEDLY’S launch date is January 24, 2017, and it’s available for pre-order now.

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