Walker & Company
Release Date: 10/2/12
Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she'll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn't expect to look for was: "Will I survive cancer?" It's an answer her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl's search for signs of life in the face of death.
Tiffany's touching contemporary novel hits the shelves tomorrow! This is one you won't want to miss. To give us a little more insight into the story and her experience in writing, it the author visits with us today. Also, be sure to check out the book trailer below!!!
1) Describe SEND ME A SIGN in one sentence.
A superstitious 17-year-old tries to keep her cancer diagnosis a secret because she doesn't want it to upset her plans for a perfect senior year.
2) What inspired you to write this story?
I always struggle with this question because I feel like inspiration comes from so many different places. If you were to track my answers to this over a bunch of different interviews, you'd see that I tend to give a different one each time. I'm not lying in any of them -- I promise -- if you added them all together, you'd get the whole picture, but it would be an absurdly long response.
For YOU, I'll answer -- what inspired Mia's mother. She tends to be a character who creates strong reader responses. Mia's mother has very clear expectations for how her daughter should behave in all situations. She's opinionated, judgmental, and can be emotionally manipulative -- but in her mind, she's a wonderful mother and she's doing everything she can to make sure her daughter "succeeds." However, she never stops to consider that Mia's definitions of success, normal, or happiness might not match her own. I've known plenty of parents like this: They should go to MY Alma Mater. I love golf--they will too. They shouldn't waste their time on art--they should be focusing on science. Parents who can't see beyond the framework of their own successes, fears, interests, or mores.
So, why give Mia parents like this? Wasn't giving her cancer enough torture? Well, for Mia to be as superstitious as she is, I wanted a reason for her to be looking for externalized methods of decision-making. Mrs. Moore is so demanding that Mia has rarely felt in control of her own life-- and that's before she's diagnosed with a disease that's going to rob her of even more of her independence and agency.
3) What books did you enjoy reading when you were younger and how have they inspired you as a writer?
I devoured books as a child. It wasn't unusual for me to read more than one a day, closing the back cover of one book and opening the front cover another without a pause in between. The stacks I brought home from our weekly trips to the library ended up spread all over our house and resulted in weekly hunt-them-down missions when it came time to return them.
Some of my elementary school favorites were: Super Fudge, Matilda, Bunnicula, Mrs. Frisby & The Rats of NIMH, and A Wrinkle in Time. And I had a ridiculous number of Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitter's Club novels.
I spent middle school terrifying myself with Christopher Pike novels.
In high school I fell in love with classics. This is when I read Austen's novels for the first time. And the Brontes. A Separate Peace made me cry like a baby in the middle of chemistry class and I re-wrote the ending to Chopin's Awakening for my college application essay.
4) Share a little about your road to publication.
SEND ME A SIGN was the third novel I wrote. The third one I queried. But it was first one I'd really taken time to revise into query-readiness. The first novel got mostly query-rejections, a couple partial requests. The second one had a couple full requests, received some good agent feedback, but it was still R's. Before I sent out SEND ME A SIGN, I made sure to get critical feedback from multiple sources--and this time from other people who were writers, not just "Hey, you know how to read and you're related to me, read this huge stack of pages and tell me I'm awesome."
While I completely understand that urge to be *done* and moving forward with querying and seeking out publication, I've found that having the patience and self-discipline to slow down and revise-revise-revise makes all the difference in this industry.
5) What can we expect from you in the future?
My second novel, BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE, is another YA contemporary. It will be out with Walker-Bloomsbury in Winter, 2014. It takes place over the course of one night and is told from the perspectives of Brighton and Jonah, two teens who *think* they have each other figured out. The tagline is: One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.