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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interview: Tara Kelly (Author of Harmonic Feedback)

Tara Kelly's debut novel is a realistic portrayal of a girl navigating her way through the confusing maze of adolescence... who just happens to have Asperger's. Today at The Hiding Spot, Tara shares her thoughts on raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders through literature, music's role in her writing process, and writing the romantic element of her novel!
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A Brief Bio

Tara Kelly is a Jill of all trades--a YA author, one-girl band, web/graphic designer, video editor and photographer. She lives in Broomfield, Colorado with her ten guitars, supercool bf, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.
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The Interview

Give a short statement describing HARMONIC FEEDBACK.
Eek-I’m terrible at summaries! Harmonic Feedback isn’t a book about Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s about a girl who is trying to figure out what normal really means—and if normal is something she really wants to be.


The number of people I know that have autism or a similar syndrome is remarkably high and it seems like more and more people are being diagnosed, so I was intrigued by the fact that Drea has a “touch of Asperger’s.” Why did you decide to write a main character with Asperger’s and do you think it is important to raise awareness about this syndrome?
For one, my little brother was diagnosed with mild autism/Asperger’s (they switched his diagnosis back and forth). This was in the 90s when autism wasn’t quite the household name it is now. And I myself had social problems growing up. So I’ve always wanted to write about a character who sees the world differently than most. I also think—despite all the media attention autism has received recently—the majority of people have a skewed view of what autism is and what autistic people are like. Many don’t realize how very different two people on the spectrum can be. Nobody fits a box of symptoms perfectly. So, yes, I do think it’s important to raise awareness with variety. A variety of stories featuring characters all over the spectrum who each have their own distinct personality—the latest crop of YA and MG fiction featuring autistic characters is a GREAT example of this. And I’m so glad to be part of it!


Music is a huge part of your life; does it play any part in your writing process?
Definitely! I can’t write without music and I can’t make music without a story to tell. I design playlists for each character so I can get into their head (sometimes this means listening to music I hate). When I write songs, I often write about the characters in my stories—they are far more fascinating than I am.


I love Justin’s character! He opens Drea’s eyes to a whole new world and a whole new sense of self. Was their romance easy to write or was it stubborn, like Drea?
Romance is my favorite thing to write, hands down. And the romance between Drea and Justin actually flowed really well for me—despite Drea’s protests. I had a blast writing their scenes together, especially the awkward moments. Although, I admit…there were times where I kept thinking…just kiss her already! I had to be patient and wait for the right time, though.


Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel?
My next book, C-Side Tales, comes out next year, and I'm very excited about it. Harmonic Feedback deals with music, obviously, but C-Side focuses solely on what it's like to be a band in today's music world--which has changed significantly in the last ten years. To steal my agent's summary--the story revolves around a 17-year-old girl who has to battle wicked stage fright (and a crush on the superhot bass player) to convince the members of her new band that she can hack it as their lead guitarist.


I read on your website that you hate balloons and it stuck in my head. Why the aversion to balloons?
Ha—this stems from a childhood fear. When I was a tot, I had a huge aversion to the sound of popping balloons. Whenever someone was around with balloons, I’d cover my ears and squeeze my eyes shut, anticipating the loud ‘bang’. And honestly? I still cringe whenever I hear the squeaky rubber…I might still cover my ears.


My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Books, for sure! Especially YA. No matter how old I get, I love getting lost in a book about first time experiences and adventures. But, also, my acoustic guitar. There’s nothing more calming to me than sitting outside and strumming my guitar, making up a song.

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Thanks for stopping by, Tara!
Be sure to check out my review of HARMONIC FEEDBACK as well!

37 comments:

  1. Awww, sounds like a great book, I always love reading books where there's some sort of journey of personal discovery or realization. They usually include such great character growth. :D Wonderful interview!

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  2. C-Side tales sounds awesome! More books about music/bands etc.. please :)

    Thanks for the interview!

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  3. Great interview! I loved that she's tackled the issue of Autism/Asperger's and woven into what sounds like a brilliant novel. While I'm not a huge music buff (meaning I don't keep up with all the latest bands, etc), I have a great appreciation for it and find it such an inspiration. So I always enjoy books that are heavily music-oriented. I can't wait to read it!

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  4. I love Justin and Drea's romance!!! I had the same though of "just kiss already" several times :P I can't wait for her next book, it looks so awesome.

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  5. A fear of balloons? That's the first time I've heard that! I used to love popping balloons when I was a kid, haha. Anyway, awesome interview! I have an odd fascination with Aspergers syndrome, so I know I'm going to love this book.

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  6. Great interview. I work with a kid who has been diagnosed with mild Asperger's, and he is the greatest kid ever(IMHO).

    I agree that most people don't understand the extent of the spectrum of Autistic behavior, and I am glad to see that Tara has written a mainstream YA book about it.

    (Especially YA. It's such an important time in development, that teens should be able to access the information, even in fiction form.)

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  7. What a great interview!

    I love books that focus on some sort of art. Music especially because it appeals to everyone.

    I have an autistic cousin, and a handful of other people in my family have similar disabilities. What Tara says about nobody fitting the box of symptoms perfectly is positively true. I'm happy to see that the universe that is YA lit has expanded to include a bit more on this topic!

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  8. It's so cool to see authors who do more than read and write!

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  9. Behavioral problems are on the rise with children, ADHD, ADD, OCD etc and I think more books should include these conditions into their books to bring about awarness. This book sounds like a great read and I look forward to reading it!

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  10. great interview and i'm definitely going to read this book now.

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  11. Great interview! Helps looking from the authors perspective of writing this book!

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  12. Sounds like a great book (:
    Nice interview! I like the sound of Justin (:

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  13. Great interview! It is interesting to learn that she has a playlist for her characters and even listens to music she doesn't like to get into her characters head.

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  14. I love how even though she write the book, she had moments where she was thinking just kiss her already.
    Thanks for the interview! (:

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  15. What a great interview! I really like the part when Tara said that she always listens to music to get into the character's head, especially when it involves music she hates. I'm realizing more and more the lengths that YA authors will go to get their stories out there, and it's really quite amazing. :)

    Wonders also if you've read anything by Sarah Darer Littman. Her next book (coming out in July) called Life, After has a character with Asperger's as well.

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  16. This was a really great interview! Tara sounds like an awesome person, and I really really can't wait to read this book.

    I also, can't write without music. Writing in total-silence is hard.

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  17. Awesome interview!

    Oh! I so can't wait for C-Side Tales! It sounds so good!

    And I totally loved Justin's character too!

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  18. Awesome interview! One of the main reasons I am looking forward to this books, is because it deals with Aspergers. And Tara is spot on when she says no two cases are the same.

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  19. Laughing about the balloons. I dislike them and live with several people who hate them, including my dog. Too bad I sell them as part of my living. Damn noisy things.

    Great interview, by the way.

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  20. Great interview! Tara is so awesome.

    I hate balloons, too. Mostly because people are always trying to give them to my kids, and they are dangerous. Ugh.

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  21. Great interview. C-Side Tales sounds good too and can't wait to hear more about it.

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  22. Awww, I love balloons! Great interview!

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  23. Can't wait to read this book and Kelly's book coming out next year sounds amazing.

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  24. A bit random, but I have an aversion to ballons, too! I can't stand them. Anyways, I love her reason for writing a character with Asperger's Syndrome. Raising awareness raises our common knowledge and understanding.

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  25. I love that she incorporates music in her stories. I don't know much about Asperger's so it will be fun to read HF and find out more about it.

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  26. That's really cool that there's a character with Asperger's - there isn't a lot of that out there yet. In fact... the only one that comes to mind at the moment is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Great interview!

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  27. She has ten guitars!? That's crazy!
    Well I guess it makes sense since she loves music! (:
    I really want to check out that "C-Side Tales" book she's working on...

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  28. Aghhh, I hate the noise of balloons popping, too!!!

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  29. Great interview. It sounds like the author has first hand knowledge of Asperger's Syndrome and I look forward to reading her book.

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  30. After reading Jodi Picoult's House Rules I really want to read more books that deal with Aspergers! This books sounds great. I love how she describes the romance.

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  31. I loved reading books abut people and with characters who have Asperger's

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  32. This sounds really good,can't wait!

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  33. Nice interview! The author sounds like a wonderful person, and her book sounds great!

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  34. Loved the interview. Her next book sounds really great too!

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  35. I do creative writing all the time and also make playlists for characters/events. I can't write in silence. Too quiet :)

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  36. Great interview, I might be a little more cautious around balloon in the future, I was cringing right there with her as if there were balloons all around me waiting to pop, lol!

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