Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Waiting Sky: author interview + GIVEAWAY!

Tornados – deadly, heartbreaking, and yet hauntingly beautiful. This summer I was at an event with author Lara Zielin where she told us about the tornado chase that inspired her latest book, The Waiting Sky. After hearing her account, I knew I had to read the book! It was amazing, and so is Lara’s offer (plus three other opportunities) at the end of this post!!

Here's the cover copy from The Waiting Sky:

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister, fleeing a troubled relationship with her alcoholic mom, spends a summer in the plains chasing — of all things — tornados. Somehow the chaos of tornados seems a lot more manageable than her very messy life back home. But, whether Jane returns home to a life of caring for her mother, or whether she strikes out in a different direction becomes the big question. And everyone — her brother, her best friend, and especially the handsome Max — has an opinion on what Jane should do.
But when her mother shows up in Tornado Alley drunk, insisting she come home, Jane fears she may have run out of options. The thought of a new life feels very far away, but not as far away as the last tornado Jane may ever chase, putting not only her life in danger, but the lives of the very people who may care about her most.

Lara was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us:

Please tell us a little about your everyday life.
It’s super exciting! I put on a cape and fly around, and then I fight
zombies using nothing but old bedposts. Then I eat cheese and
crackers. Okay, everything I just wrote is a lie – except for the
cheese and crackers part. I LOVE cheese and crackers.

The truth is, I have a full-time day job. So I do that, which is fun,
and then I go home and spend time with my husband, dogs, books, and
manuscripts. It’s a good, good life.

Tell us about the tornado chase that you took. Was it what you
expected? Any close encounters? And how did it inspire The Waiting

In 2004, I went on a tornado chase all across tornado alley. It was
like those tours where you pay to go see whales in the ocean, only we
were paying to get up close to crazy weather! I didn't see any
tornadoes, but I saw some funnel clouds and some seriously bad storms.

One of the most surprising things about the tornado chase I was on was
that there was also lots of time on the road to just think, and more
than the bad weather, that’s where a lot of where my inspiration for
The Waiting Sky came from. Because here we were, expecting constant
adrenaline rushes, and instead what we got was hours and hours trapped
in a van with strangers, driving miles and miles. My main character,
Jane, has a similar situation in the book. She leaves a chaotic
situation at her home in Minnesota, and expects to find more chaos in
Tornado Alley, but instead she just has tons and tons of time to think
about how she might be able to change her life.

Besides your main character, who is your favorite character in The
Waiting Sky
and why?

I love Ethan, Jane’s brother. First, I pictured him being waaaaay
cute! And secondly, he wants so badly to do the right thing for
himself and his sister, but he really struggles. Sometimes doing the
right thing is really hard. Sometimes it hurts people. Ethan
intellectually realizes this, but it’s still very challenging for him.

Do you have a favorite scene in The Waiting Sky?
I’m a sucker for a romantic moment, so I love it when Jane and her new
love interest, Max, climb into the unfinished barn at night. I’m not
going to say exactly whether any kissing happens, but, um … okay,

Did you always know how The Waiting Sky would end, or did it change as you wrote it?
I don’t always know how my novels will end when I start them. So, I
just wrote the ending as it came to me!

You did a terrific job with the tension of the flashbacks...were they
a part of your first draft or did you add them in a later draft?

They were always part of the story, because everything takes place in
Tornado Alley and we have to get a sense of what Jane’s running from.
But omg, my editor helped me make them sooooo much better!

Is there anything you can tell us about how your cover was designed?

The amazing design fairies at Putnam emailed me and were like, “Look!
We threw glitter on some paper and this happened!” and I was like,
“Zomg, I freaking LOVE it!”

Which, okay, that’s not how it went down. But I’m not a designer so I
don’t know the first thing about how these amazing people do this kind
of amazing work. It’s just … well, amazing.

Can you tell us a little about the path to publication of your first
book, Donut Days?

Donut Days was a mess for so long! A big, fat, hot mess. It started
out as chick-lit, which sort of went by the wayside as a genre while I
was writing it. So then I turned it into YA, but the book still wasn’t
very good. With the help of some writing conferences and some writerly
friends, I was able to edit it to a place that an agent accepted it.
But it took a long time. From the time I started the novel to the time
I held the published book in my hands, it was eight years!

What’s next for you?

I am working on a book about a girl who suffers from panic attacks.
It’s called The Sum of Small Things. I hope it will be out in early
2014! Yay!!

If you would like a chance to win a (hardcover!) signed copy of The Waiting Sky (courtesy of Lara!), just leave your e-mail address in the comments section of this post. It’s not required for entry, but we’d also love to hear about what inspired you to write your latest novel! The giveaway (for U.S. residents) is open until Friday, October 12, 2012 at midnight eastern time.

In other giveaway news, you still have until Friday to enter last week’s YAFusion giveaway, Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff. To enter, please leave a comment under last week’s post.

Also, there are giveaways for my own book, What She Left Behind at YA Book Queen (ends Tuesday!) and at Goodreads (ends October 20).


WinterFaerie said...

I want to read this boook soo bad! It looks amazing!! thank you for the giveaway!!

Erica said...

I had no idea you could go on tornado chases, but that sounds like it would be an absolutely amazing (and kind of frightening) experience!

thebookcellarx @

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. I always admire writers who are able to juggle a writing care3r with working full time.

I've seen a bit about people who like to follow tornadoes on TV. So interesting.

Please let someone else win this. My TBR list is too high right now.

Kristin Lenz said...

I love how Lara's personality shines through in this interview.

To answer your question, my WIP was inspired by my first social work job as a counselor in a runaway shelter.

Andrea Kelley said...

Never read a book about tornado chasing before...never even heard of a books like this. So, yeah. Definitely on my to-read-list. :) It would be awesome to be able to read it.

Sonya said...

What a great concept for a book! I'll buy it!

Danielle H. said...

Love the parallel of home chaos and nature's chaos. Can't wait to read this one!

Amber Nicole said...

This book looks great! Thank you for the giveaway! (:

Shutta said...

Good interview! I like how Lara's personality comes across. The book sounds great!


Shutta said...

Good interview! I like how Lara's personality comes across. The book sounds great!


Alyssa Susanna said...

Can I just say I lvoe the cover and premise of this book! It looks and sounds awesoem :)

And to answer the question - my love of Greek mythology just kind of took its own way :)

Alyssa Susanna

Vivien said...

Living in the heart of Tornado Alley this book appeals on many levels. Just this year a tornado hit our city and was a mile away from where I live. Such an adrenaline rush. Thankful for my basement. Anyway, I've had this book on my wishlist for months. Sounds fantastic!

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Angie Kidd said...

I enjoyed hearing about your creative process and that it can be worth sticking with a piece of writing.
My WIP is inspired by my own experiences growing up shy, but with a dash of fantasy ;-)

Sarah P. said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. Would love to read it!

sarahjperry9 (at) gmail (dot) com

Kristen P. said...

I can't wait to read this book!


Anonymous said...

Tornadoes, barns, and kissing? I'm in! This book looks really good. thank you for the giveaway.