I’m excited to tell you that I have Holly Goldberg Sloan here today, answering some questions about her new middle-grade novel, Counting by 7s, and more! I’m a huge fan of Holly’s debut, I’ll Be There, a heart-pounding, emotional, gorgeous novel that still makes me choke up when I think about it. Now Holly has turned her talents to a younger audience, and I can’t wait to read it.
And scroll down to see who won the giveaway!
NRS: You have a new novel coming out—COUNTING BY 7s, from Dial. I’ll share the jacket copy to give everyone a delicious tease:
In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle-grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
HGS: Yes. Book launches are exciting and anxiety filled. It feels as if you wait for a long time after you’ve finished for the book to be edited and printed and get to the bookstore. And then all of sudden after all the waiting the day is upon you.
Your first novel I’LL BE THERE (from Little, Brown) is difficult to place in a category. It’s contemporary realistic fiction, but if you had to put a label on it (and I see from COUNTING BY 7s that labels interest you), what else would you say?
HGS: I think I’d call I’LL BE THERE a thriller. The category exists in the adult book world, and usually involves crime/detectives/murder. But in the YA world, I think you can have thrillers, which is another way of saying page-turners. Things HAPPEN. Or that’s what I hope anyway. And there is an element of danger.
But COUNTING BY 7s, your new book, is not a thriller.
HGS: A story about loss. But it’s also about being found. It’s very personal to me, in many ways. Or at least the underlying emotions are very personal. One of my closest friends from college, Lisa Gaiser Urick, passed away from cancer. And the father of my sons (we had divorced when they were very young and I have remarried but stayed very close to my first husband) died of heart failure while swimming in the ocean. It was very sudden and we were not prepared. I was on a walk and my phone rang and I saw that it was my ex-husband. I spoke to him almost every day so that was not unusual. But he had just left for a vacation in the Virgin Islands. He would call me when he was out of town, so again I didn’t think anything when I answered the phone. But when it wasn’t him on the other end of the line, I knew something was very, very wrong. I think on some level, I’ve been in shock ever since. It’s been over two years and I still have trouble processing that he’s gone. And the same is true of Lisa. I still believe that it’s possible, somehow that I can find her.
And yet your book is not just about that kind of shock of sudden loss, it’s about what happens next.
HGS: Exactly. And I have tried to do that embracing humor, and hope.
Do you think your books have magical realism? Do you believe that the things you write about could happen?
HGS: That’s a hard question to answer without giving away spoilers, which I don’t want to do. There is almost nothing that irritates me more than reading a review where the plot is revealed. But I understand the point of the question and I will say this: almost everything that happens in my books has happened to someone that I know, or I’ve heard about. So to me, these characters and what they go through are real. They are grounded. I can answer that in a specific way if someone has read the book. But again, I retreat to the position of saying sometimes crazy things go down. People are not predictable. You think they are, but they surprise you. In all kinds of ways.
What would you be if you hadn’t become a writer?
HGS: I’m very interested in architecture, so that would have been a possibility. And I also would have considered politics. I was a Political Science major at Wellesley (and also English literature) and at one point I thought that I’d live in Washington DC and work in government. My youngest son is there now, so maybe he’s fulfilling some kind of family destiny.
I know you have another book coming out after COUNTING BY 7s. Tell us a little about it.
HGS: I have written a follow-up to I’LL BE THERE. It’s titled JUST CALL MY NAME. It’s coming out in 2014 from Little, Brown. I’m very happy with the novel, which I believe stands on its own merits and does not require reading I’LL BE THERE. Of course that might enhance the experience, but the characters in the first book had a lot of ground still left in them. I’m excited for that to come out next year.
So am I! I’m excited for both of your new books—and, lucky us, we don’t have to wait for the next one: COUNTING BY 7s comes out tomorrow, August 29, from Dial!
HGS: And I guess now is the time in the process where I’d say “Read my blog,”—except I don’t have one. And I’d also say follow me @HGoldbergSloan on Twitter—but I’m a shy tweeter. What’s a bird with a very low voice? That’s me in the electronic world. So I’ll just end by saying thank you, Nova. You are a great writer, and great to writers.
Aw, thank you, Holly—and congratulations!
- Buy COUNTING BY 7s at your local independent bookstore
- Add COUNTING BY 7s to your shelf on Goodreads
- Like Holly’s author page on Facebook
- Find out more about Holly at her website hollygoldbergsloan.com
ANNOUNCING THE GIVEAWAY WINNER…
Congrats to Jocelyn Smith!
You won a copy of Counting by 7s!
Hope you love it.