I'm thrilled to be hosting YA author Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal and the just-published Where The Stars Still Shine.
|Photo from TrishDoller.com|
If you missed my review of Where the Stars Still Shine, just scroll down one post and check it out!
Hi Trish! I loved Where the Stars Still Shine and I'm so excited that you can stop by and answer a few questions.
Thank you. I’m happy to be here!
Jen: Becoming independent is the goal of many YA protagonists, but because of her very unusual upbringing, your main character Callie has to do the opposite -- learn how to be part of a family and let other people care about her. Was she a difficult character to write?
Trish: It probably sounds strange to talk about characters as if they’re real people but when I was writing my first novel (Something Like Normal), Travis was very forthcoming with what was bothering him and the way I needed to tell his story. It was like I was carrying him around in my head and sometimes he would not shut up! But with Callie...she was kind of like a feral kitten. She had a story, but I had to coax it out of her.
Jen: I also loved the Florida setting of Where the Stars Still Shine. I've spent a fair amount of time on the Gulf Coast, but had no idea that Tarpon Springs has both a vibrant Greek-American community and a sponge industry. Can you talk a little about your research on the book's setting?
Trish: I wish I had something scholarly and smart to say here, but most of my research consisted of hanging out on Dodecanese Blvd., watching people, visiting gift shops, and eating Greek food. I will say that with each visit (maybe four or five in total) I noticed something I hadn’t before and most things worked themselves into the book. I did watch some videos about sponge diving and even took a ride on the tour boat that’s the inspiration for the one in the book.
|Photo from VisitFlorida.com|
Jen: There were many fantastic secondary characters in Where the Stars Still Shine, but one of my favorites had to be Ariel, the snarky bookstore worker with the heart of gold. You're also a bookseller -- is Ariel your dark alter ego?
Trish: Ha! I think she might be. I definitely modeled the bookstore after the one I’d love to own--complete with the snarky categories. The character of Ariel was initially going to be a guy because I liked the idea of Callie having a guy friend who wasn’t a potential boyfriend, but after I wrote him (he didn’t have a name yet) I realized Callie needed to have more than just one female friend. Kat is the friend who cheers you up when you’re down. Ariel is the one who helps you hide a body.
|These aren't Ariel's signs; they're from Capitol Books in DC.|
Jen: Now I'm thinking which of my friends I'd call if I had a body to dispose of…. I'm always so excited when authors make playlists for their books. Can you tell us about a few of the songs on your Where the Stars Still Shine list (I linked to it below) and their connection to the story?
Trish: My absolute favorite song from the playlist is Girl America by Mat Kearney because it is so perfectly Callie and I still have a hard time listening to it without getting a little teary-eyed. I think the lines that connect best are these:
My girl America, stop can't you see
It's not the circumstances that determine who you're gonna be
But how you deal with these problems and pains that come your way
It's for you that I pray with hope for a brighter day
And so I say, your deliverance is coming
One of my more light-hearted favorites is a song by Matt Nathanson called Bottom of the Sea. I think it fits in so many ways--Alex’s not-quite-chosen profession, his love of diving, and the scene in which he and Callie go snorkeling--and the most fitting lines are:
come on down to the bottom of the sea
come on down here
yeah there's room right next to me
i'm tired of getting even
let’s get odd odd
and live life at the bottom of the sea
The last song on the soundtrack is one I stumbled on one day while listening to Pandora and I thought it was just so right for the ending of the book. We leave Callie on a hopeful note, but nothing is tied up neatly and I think these words nail it:
We are words
On pages that we've left unturned
An ending no one's ever heard
We are a story slowly unfolding
Jen: Since you brought up the ending, I'll say I thought it was perfect -- it was true to the story, it was hopeful, and it nudged the main characters in the direction I thought they needed. Did you have any doubts about ending the story this way?
Trish: I didn’t have doubts that the book needed to end the way it does, but I had so many moments when I didn’t want it to end this way. I turned it over and over in my mind, trying to find a way to give the ending more happily ever after, but life is messy and sometimes hope is what you get. And to end it any other way wouldn’t have felt right.
To listen to Trish's playlist for the book, click on the Spotify icon below: