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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Q&A Session with Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of The Sound of Letting Go [Blog Tour]

Today author Stasia Ward Kehoe stops by The Hiding Spot to chat about her newest YA verse novel, The Sound of Letting Go! I was thrilled to be invited to participate in this blog tour, as I loved Kehoe's first novel, Audition. Her debut was one of my very first verse novels and one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with the format!

Stasia Kehoe grew up dancing and performing on stages from New Hampshire to Washington, DC. She now writes books for young adults and choreographs the occasional musical. Her two YA verse novels include Audition and The Sound of Letting Go.


Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Alternately, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?

“Easy” is never a word I can attach to writing. Sigh. However, in The Sound of Letting Go, I found writing Steven to be a particular challenge as I was concerned about authenticity in creating a low-functioning autistic character. I did a great deal of research and had the manuscript vetted by people at The Autism Society and Autism Speaks so that I could feel confident putting this character out into a world full of people with much more experience with autism than myself.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
I wrote and sold The Sound of Letting Go with the title Solo. Everybody was happy about it but I got cold feet. I was worried that title suggested the book was mostly about music, which it isn’t. So I sent an epic list of titles to my editor. Here are a few of the rejected titles: 

Improvising Ordinary; Kind of Blue; The Chains of Freedom; A Plan for Letting Go; Daisy, Dave, and Cal O'Casey Play the Blues 

Once we all agreed to The Sound of Letting Go, we worried about confusion with Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go. Turns out David Guetta has a new song called The Sound of Letting Go and Gae Polsiner has a spring 2014 release called The Summer of Letting Go. Conclusion? There’s no winning with titles. But I’m still happy we didn’t go with Solo!
Many people dream of their ideal jobs while working somewhere less desirable to make ends meet, never realizing what great experience those jobs of necessity are for their future. What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?

I grew up working as a dancer and choreographer. For me, the way I consider the shape and cadence of sentences and paragraphs is connected to the way I built and performed dances.  After I got married, I worked in Education & Library Marketing for Random House and, later, Simon & Schuster. Seeing the publishing world from the “other” side has kept my expectations contained and taught me the deep truth of the cliché, “Don’t write to trends.” 

What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 
So many wonderful writers have inspired me. My two favorite children’s authors were Laura Ingalls Wilder and Noel Streatfield. I read the “Little House” and “Shoes” books many times over and still collect first editions of Noel Streatfield titles. From there, I read a lot of Brit Lit: Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayres, Jane Austen, W. Somerset Maugham, Irish Murdoch.  For contemporary and YA fiction, Markus Zusak, E. Annie Proulx, Neil Gaiman, Libba Bray. Poetry-wise, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Henry Taylor, Albert Garcia and the inimitable Maxine Kumin. Yes, I am a total reader-nerd.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?

I love words but would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. A few current gems: BUCOLIC, SQUIRREL, NEUROTYPICAL.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?

My escape is the ski slopes. When you are fighting your way down a steep run, you cannot think, plan or worry. I don’t know if it’s quite an escape from reality, such as an exquisite narrowing of it. You have to be absolutely in the now. For me, it is an amazing escape and a release. I also enjoy napping. :) 

Learn more about Stasia and her books here.


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