I've known of Barbara Caridad Ferrer (well-published author of teen and adult lit, known as Barb to her friends) in teenlit circles for a while now, so I was very excited when I found out she was moving Seattle - even better to meet her in person and find out she really is as saucy and generous and funny as you would expect her to be!
I'm very pleased to welcome her today to Story Secrets to spill some secrets about her latest YA novel, WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE. Plus she has promised a signed book to one US winner (see details below).
WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE a contemporary reimagining of Bizet's CARMEN, where a career army officer falls in love with a sultry gypsy and gives up everything for her, only to be overthrown for the flamboyant bullfighter. My version is set against the world of drum and bugle corps, where my army officer becomes a disciplined musician, my gyspy is a talented dancer and my bullfighter is a cocky soccer player from Spain. (Read an excerpt here.)
Holly Cupala: music, dancing, bullfighting...STARS has everything! How did the idea strike you?
Caridad Ferrer: One the original story has everything that makes for a great story-- drama, passion, intrigue, a love triangle, betrayals-- plus I'd always wanted to set a story against the world of competitive drum and bugle corps, since it was an activity I was extremely involved in, as an adolescent.
Holly: I've been hearing a lot about this book's unusual trip to the shelves. Will you tell us about it?
Caridad: This book had a pretty twisting journey. It was originally acquired by a different publishing house, but after a lot of work with my editor on the project, the publisher decided it wasn't right for them. After that, I made a huge overhaul in my professional life—revised the manuscript yet again, and my new agent sold it to St. Martin's which has been just the perfect home for it.
Holly: It takes a lot of courage to keep going with a book even after disappointments. Did you feel like you grew as a writer in the process?
Caridad: It really forced me to examine what was important to me about writing. In the process of revising the book for the original publisher, I made some choices that I didn't think were in the best interest of the story because I was trying so hard to be the Good Author. What would have happened, if the publisher hadn't decided the story wasn't right for them? Would I have been anywhere near as proud of the finished product as I am now? It was quite the eye-opener. I resolved to really think hard about how best to serve the story in the future.
Holly: What inspires you most?
Caridad: Without a doubt, music. It's both a constant, yet always evolving. It's one of my favorite parts of writing—listening to music for inspiration.
Holly: I can see your love of the arts - music is a huge theme in Adios to My Old Life, and drama in It's Not About the Accent. What do you most hope your readers will take away from STARS?
Caridad: I hope they'll fall as in love with my characters as I did. That they'll understand why each of them did what they did throughout the course of the story-- there are no black and white good guys or bad guys. Everyone has their weaknesses that might prompt them to behave in less-than-stellar ways. It's how we react and learn from those moments that's important.
Holly: Any secrets you might be willing to share?
Caridad: That I'm always surprised that people read me as confident because I'm always, ALWAYS terrified when my books go out into the real world and I know people are reading them.
Also, I'm deathly afraid of ants.
Holly: What’s up next?
Caridad: I'm working on a couple of new stories, one a YA and one an adult, and they're both very different from anything I've tried before, so fingers crossed they work!
Thanks so much, Barb~Caridad!
AND NOW THE GIVEAWAY
You have until midnight on Monday to leave a comment on one of the following: a) why you'd love to read WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE; b) why you love reading about the arts in YA lit; c) if you've persevered on a project (whether it succeeded or failed) and what you learned from the process.
BONUS if you can tell me where the novel's title comes from!