2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

It’s the very last day of my Fall 2012 YA Debut Interview series! I’ve been excited to feature these debut novels from the fall season, and I hope you’re now as intrigued to get your hands on them as I am. Our final YA debut author of the series is Kimberly Sabatini—her first novel, Touching the Surface, comes out October 30 from Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster. Read on to see how Kim answered my Q&A…

…And be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a signed and personalized finished copy of book, plus swag, plus a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. (Wow!)

Coming October 30 from Simon Pulse!

Nova: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Kim: Life altering events are meant to alter lives.

When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave? 

Touching the Surface is the story of my heart, only I didn’t know how to write it when I started. After attending my very first local SCBWI conference I learned that K.L. Going was going to be hosting an intimate local workshop where she would be providing critiques. I was so inspired by her and the conference that I decided to go and to start writing a novel to get critiqued.

One of K.L. Going’s workshops I attended.

That first one-on-one session with K.L. would begin a three-and-a-half-year growth period for me. I took in every piece of information and advice I could get, because the truth was that I knew nothing. But because I had so much learning to do during the writing process, I have enough drafts of this story to build a house with.

I tend to think of those three and a half years like one of those scientific pictures of the body with the clear overlays on it. Each time you lay down a new page, like adding the circulatory system or the digestive system, the picture gets more complicated. That was Surface. It started out kind of basic and thin, and with each thing I learned, I added another layer of depth and texture to the story.

It was a long, frustrating, amazing, completely satisfying experience. And I can’t believe I’m doing it all over again with book 2. You never stop learning and growing, so if you’re comfortable you’re probably not doing it right. *head thunk*

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.

My desk (signing my first book contract)

I’m a bit of a writing nomad. I write at my desk, on my bed (particularly if my hamstrings are being difficult after a run), and on my enclosed front porch. Sometimes I write sitting on the driveway while I’m waiting for the kids to get off the bus. I write in Panera and one of my local coffee shops. I’ve written at the playground and if I can’t squeeze in a spot to write, I write in my head while driving or taking a run, knowing that the words will go down so much smoother if I’ve laid them out in my mind ahead of time.

My writing buddy (Beans) when I’m on the bed. Or anywhere for that matter.

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

For me it could be a boy or a girl. A man or a woman. Who they are isn’t what I focus on, because let’s face it, who doesn’t dream of reaching a broad audience? But what I would love to see is someone who is so engrossed in the story that the rest of the world has faded away. Why? Because that’s how I am when I read books that I love, and the perfect reader of me is someone who loves it.

What was the moment when the upcoming publication of your novel felt “real” for the first time—when you got your editorial letter, when you saw the cover, when you held the ARC in your hands… or something else? Or if it doesn’t feel “real” yet, when do you think it will?

It does not feel real yet. Not completely. Sometimes I hope that it never will—the way I secretly wished no one would spill the beans about Santa and the Easter Bunny—even when I knew inside. There is a piece of me that realizes there’s something special about the way this feels and I’m reluctant to completely give it up. But I also know that there’s something very exciting about what’s coming next. I think the trick is to live fully in every moment of the process.

But…if I had to pick one moment that has made me suck in my breath and say wow, I think it was being given an ARC of Touching the Surface to give to Laurie Halse Anderson. She was the first person I ever heard speak at a conference and it changed me—deeply. I was able to give her the first book I’ve ever signed. It was a very moving, full-circle moment for me.

A pic that was snapped when I gave my ARC to Laurie Halse Anderson. ❤
Another pic that was snapped when I gave my ARC to Laurie Halse Anderson. ❤

Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

Oh, man. This is just a fun question. I would go on tour with J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins because it doesn’t get bigger than that. And I’d sit right smack between the two of them. LOL! I would also try really hard not to embarrass myself by drooling and forgetting my own name. (But that could be really entertaining for those MILLIONS of people on line to see THEM.) And the truth is, if I got to hang out with THEM, it wouldn’t matter where we went—you know it’s true. But if I had to choose, I’ve been longing to back to Italy and eat pasta and gelato. And that would make the “delicious treat” part of this question easy to answer.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

“As my head broke the surface it all became clear. I had died…again.”

This is two sentences, but they completely functions as one. Don’t make me take out that period and add a double dash. That’s just mean. Pretend I hypnotized you and you don’t even notice. Great. Moving on.

Touching the Surface comes out October 30, 2012, from Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster. Read on for a chance to win a signed and personalized finished copy of the book and more!

Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for three- and four-year-olds. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. Touching the Surface is her debut novel.

Visit kimberlysabatini.com to find out more. 

Follow @KimSabatini on Twitter.


You could win: a signed and personalized finished copy of Touching the Surface plus a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, and some swag!

Coming October 30 from Simon Pulse!

How to enter:

1. Just leave a comment on this post, or

2. Fill out this entry form.

If you do both, you will be entered TWICE!

And to gain another entry, just tweet about this interview and giveaway—and let me know you did in your comment or on the form—and you’ll be entered THREE TIMES.

This giveaway is open in the US only. This giveaway closes on Friday, September 28 at 8pm EST. Good luck!

Thank you so much for reading the YA debut interviews this season! If you missed any, here are the rest of the debuts from the series:

…And come back on Monday for an INTERNATIONAL giveaway to win the featured debut of your choice!

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