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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Story Secrets: CHANGE OF HEART by Shari Maurer + giveaway!

I am very pleased to welcome Shari Maurer today, who I met at the Class of 2K10 event in New York City during BEA! Even though I'm not part of the class, they enveloped me into their group easily and we went out to dinner to chat books, writing, and New York delicacies. Then Shari kindly drove me home and we had a chance to chat about her beautiful debut novel, CHANGE OF HEART.

Shari has even included a giveaway with this lovely interview, so don't forget to read and comment. Welcome, Shari!


CHANGE OF HEART is about Emmi, an elite 16 year old soccer player who winds up needing a heart transplant and learns about love, loss and true friendship in the process.

Shari Maurer: My husband is a cardiologist who cares for patients waiting for heart transplants. One night he was featured on a Discovery Health program on heart transplants. Also on the show was a young girl waiting for a transplant. I watched as she was wheeled into the operating room, unsure if she would live or die, and was haunted by the look on her face. I couldn't stop thinking about her and thus, Emmi was born.

In doing all the research and talking to so many heart transplant recipients, I was able to view my husband's work from the patient's point of view. Both my husband and I have now become involved with the New York Organ Donor Network and are working with them to register as many potential donors as we can. One person can save up to eight lives.

Holly Cupala: Who is your biggest inspiration?

My daughter. She was born with a heart defect, so I've been on that side a little. Thankfully, she was able to be surgically repaired, which is a lot different than needing a transplant, but I do know what it's like to have a life-threatening illness.

When I first started writing Change of Heart, it was really for her. We talked a lot about what she liked in a book and some of those things (for example short chapters and the use of IMing) were incorporated into the book.

HC: Do you talk with your daughter about your ideas?

I often try ideas out on my daughter and her friends. I also have a critique group, with two writers I trust with all my writing secrets. We often talk through story ideas or we'll show each other the first several pages of something to see if it works. I can't imagine writing in a bubble.

HC: How did the story evolve as you revised?

I completed the first draft in five months. Then I did a lot of revising, calling in every favor I had for people to read for me. The book evolved, then I started sending it out to agents. I got a lot of consistent feedback that the book needed to start earlier. My original draft had her already waiting for the heart, but I kept hearing that people wanted to know her before she got sick. I think it was excellent advice and definitely helped the story.

HC: What do you most hope your readers will take away?

Readers have been telling me that they've come away with the message of not taking your health or the people in your life for granted. It's totally how I live my life and I didn't consciously decide to make that the theme, but I guess it leaked into my story. I'm thrilled!

HC: Any secrets you might be willing to share...?

I'm deathly afraid of snakes. When my husband and I were at sleepaway camp when we were first dating (we met when we were 17), he came back from the soccer field and told me he had something for me behind his back. I thought 'wow, how romantic, he picked wildflowers for me.' Imagine my shock as he presented me with a dead snake. I screamed and it took me about a half hour to stop shaking and get my breath back. Needless to say, he never did that again!

HC: What’s up next?

I have another book that I love that hopefully I'll be able to share with everyone soon. And I'm writing the next one and set it at sleepaway camp, which as you saw from the snake story is a place of (mostly) wonderful memories.


Thank you, Shari!


All you have to do to be entered to win a signed copy of CHANGE OF HEART is leave a comment below by Midnight Monday PST on a) why you'd love to read this book, b) if you think struggling through health problems can change a person and relationships, or c) if you have ever been inspired by adversity. Comment away!


  1. This is such a fantastic interview. I never knew about her daughter (although I did read other interviews of her's). I wish Shari all the best with her writing life!

    Can't wait to read this book. But don't enter me, I already won a copy.

    And yes, I do think health problems can change persons and relationships. When my Grandpa got ill, it shook my world and ever since he passed away, I've been afraid of losing other people I love so much. After that, I don't think it's something that's going to go back to being what it was before. It changed me.

  2. I think this book sounds very intriguing. I love books based around serious or real life problems, and needing a heart transplant would be such a shocking and scary change of life. Also, I know that struggling through health problems can change people and their relationships. My mother has lupus and it has changed many things in her life and those around her. Having watched many close family and friends struggle with cancer I have seen the direct effects of a risky health problem on someone's life.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  3. Please enter me if this is international.
    I want to read this book because it seems so touching. I love books that make me think.

    Yes, I think health issues can change persons and relationships.One of my friend's father suffers from severe depression.I have seen my friend and her family going through so much pain.

    I was badly bullied in school. It was more of mental bullying than physical. I admired them , worshiped the ground that they stood on..and they worked all over me!I stopped believing in friendships. In college ,I met some wonderful people and though it took me a lot of time,almost 2 yrs , in fact ..I finally let myself get close to them.


  4. Awesome interview.

    I'm actually too scared to read this book, my dad died pretty young of a heart problem and I've always had this fear that it's going to happen to me too -- I remember after he died, my mum took me to the doctors and I didn't know why until we got there and she started telling him about my dad and asking if it was a hereditary thing... I don't think I'd handle reading a book about this subject matter.

    I'm sure the book is fantastic though, it sounds awesome, I'm just too scared. =/

    Health issues can definitely change a person and their lives and relationships.

  5. I'd like to enter this contest so I can read this book with my daughter. She's already had classmates with life-threatening illnesses, and I think it would help her understand what they are going through.

    I have seen how going through a serious illness can transform relationships -- making people more aware of how precious our loved ones are and how people seem to be imbued with a strength, grace and clarity.

    Although I have been blessed not to experience much adversity in my personal life, I have been inspired by the struggle of other people who have faced seemingly overwhelming odds and perserved. True courage is knowing you're beat even before you've begun and fighting anyway -- and sometimes, you win.


  6. Thanks for the giveaway! Great interview. First, just let me say first that your snake story cracked me up.

    I'd love to read this book because it sounds amazing and, I know it's odd, but my favorite books are the emotional ones.

    I've suffered from depression for periods of time, so I know how you and your relationships do change. It has made me be more attentive towards people and make everyone feel welcome when I'm in school. My brother and my sister also have a mental illness and I know how ahrd it is for everyone.

    xnzkisha17 at yahoo dot com

  7. This book sounds fantastic--I love the life and death concept mixed with realism. Can't wait to read it. I love books that tug at the heartstrings like this.

    jpetroroy at gmail dot com

  8. I would very much like to read this book as I just recently followed a friends student on the CaringBridge Blog as she had a Virus attack her heart and she went on the Berlin Heart until she could recieve a Transplant. She is doing great now.
    Yes I know health issues can influence relationships, espically mental Health issues.
    That experience has caused me to grow out of a codependent relationship..and I am still growing.
    TKS for entering me in your giveaway.

  9. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful and vulnerable posts today - I absolutely think dealing with health issues can change people and relationships. What's really amazing to me is when people can draw hope out of these experiences. And thank you to Shari for writing about deep issues with grace.

  10. I'd love to read this book! It sounds so different and inspiring. I've never had to experience something as life-altering as that, but I think I'd like to read about Emmi's experience and what happens to her afterward.

    kayla3194 at gmail dot com

  11. It's been wonderful to read all these responses. I hope that you enjoy Change of Heart.

    Thanks for having me on the blog, Holly. And good luck to everyone!

  12. Great interview! I'd love to read this one, it sound so great! Honestly, I do believe that it can change people and their relationships. I think it makes us realize how precious the people in our lives are. Sometimes we take them for granted and when something life threatening happens, on then do we realize this! I read almost all of Laurenle McDaniel's books and I fell in love with them! That would be my inspiration to learn more about these illness and what I can do to help!

  13. I love the interview! Thanks for sharing.

    I would love to read this book because I just read In A Heartbeat which is also about a heart transplant and I loved it! This would be right up my alley.


  14. I really believe struggling with health problems can change a person, and those around them. I think it gives you a whole new perspective in life and makes you reconsider your priorities. It's too bad sometimes people have to go through hard times to make a change for the better.

    Congrats on the release and best of luck with your upcoming projects!
    entrelibros_blog at hotmail.com

  15. I've heard nice things about this book, Change of Heart. Thanks for the interview! It's really sweet how her book is *dedicated* to her daughter.

    Anyway, my brother has been diagnosed with having epilepsy of some sort, and it was REALLY scary in its early stages, since neither of us knew what was going on. One morning, my mum had trouble waking him up. I almost cried, until he got up. Very scary.

    cc932005 at hotmail dot com

  16. I do think a health problem can change a person. In a way, it open your eyes. It's very difficult to deal with these kind of situations, because it isn't always something you can resolve.

    I hope her daughter is fine now. I had a minor heart problem when I was a girl too and sometimes it was difficult. Any little thing that affect your health become huge for you, it's your body, and you really wish to get well soon.


  17. I have already purchased the book and read it, but I would not mind having an autographed copy. I can always give my copy to a friend. I love this book. I had a student of mine who died in her teens due to heart problems. Back in 1985 when I started teaching heart transplants were not as prevelant as they are today. I am telling a lot of people and friends about this wonderful book and how important it is to become an organ donor.
    Nicole Weaver

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