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!
AND NOW, THE GIVEAWAY:
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!