Sunday, January 12, 2014


     Yes, I've acquired an autographed first edition that I'm going to (1) read, and then (2) give away to some lucky contest winner.  Just got back an hour ago from my jaunt into Manhattan to hear co-authors Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando read from and talk about their new YA novel, ROOMIES (Little, Brown, December 2013) at McNally Jackson Bookstore.  (I didn't get a photo, but Farrin Jacobs did; see tweet @farrinj.) Here are some things I learned about the novel and the process that produced it.   There are two main characters, both of whom have just learned that they've been assigned to share a dorm room two  months hence when they'll be starting their freshman years at Berkeley. Authors Sara and Tara (doesn't that sound like a pair of twins whom their mother dresses identically, virtually ensuring that they'll end up in therapy?) each assumed responsibility for one of the characters.  Elizabeth in New Jersey (Tara) and Lauren in San Francisco (Sara) narrate alternating chapters, and each chapter includes at least one side of an ongoing e-mail exchange between the two.  What I found fascinating is that the _ara Sisters did not really collaborate while writing the book.  Instead, one would finish writing her own chapter, email it to the other _ara, and then wait for the next chapter to be emailed back.  They didn't really discuss the process along the way.  Each trusted the other enough to follow wherever she might lead.  Each had other "front-burner" book projects going the whole time, and they were having fun writing ROOMIES and didn't take this back-burner project too seriously until it was done.  That's when they sat back and appraised it and lo, they saw that it was good.  So they revised, and then sent it to their respective agents.  And lo, the agents saw that it was good, and Little, Brown saw that it was good.  And the rest of the story isn't history yet, because the book has just been released.
     I've reviewed Sara's THE LUCY VARIATIONS here, and I mentioned her again here.  I'm a great admirer of her writing.  I'm sorry to say I'd never heard of Tara until tonight, but as I've now learned here, she's the author of quite a few well-received YA novels.  Her most recent, THE BEST NIGHT OF YOUR (PATHETIC) LIFE, was published by Dutton in 2012, and her next out will be THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE (Running Press Kids, April 2014). 
     So this is a teaser.  Now there are two fabulous events to watch out for here: the ROOMIES giveaway, after I've finished reading it, and on January 25th, the Holly Schindler vlogstop.

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