Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lara Avery Guest Post + Giveaway

Lara Avery Guest Post + Giveaway

Lara Avery is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Book Snob this hot month of July.  She has written a guest post on summer and why her young adult novel Anything But Ordinary takes place during the summer.  I sure hope you are enjoying your summer.  It is really hot and humid in Minnesota today.  So without further adieu I would like to welcome Lara to BookSnob.  Please read on.

Lara's guest post.

It’s summer. You may not be reading this post in the summertime, but as I’m writing, you can feel the heat pressing against the windows. It’s so hot the sky is too tired to be blue.  I mention this because, in a roundabout way, this kind of dead heat played a big part in writing Anything But Ordinary.

I am brought back to humid, still afternoons whenever I am asked to provide some of sort of insight on writing it (and when faced with Minnesota heat like today). I was pleased when my editor and I agreed that this novel should be set in the summer, not only because it pays tribute to the hot days of my childhood growing into a career, but also because no matter who you are, summertime is a different world.

Anything But Ordinary would not be the same if it took place under the fluorescent lights of a school hallway or between holiday car trips in December. Summer means relaxation and boredom, sure, but it also means emptiness waiting to be filled, a potential for adventure that could rarely happen behind a desk.

For the main character of ABO, Bryce, summer was supposed to be filled with days diving, training, enjoying the lazy evenings with her best friend and the love of her life. In a fatal instant, her world was turned upside down, and the months away from school became years, riding a thin line between life and death. The book spans Bryce’s attempts to get back her life one summer day at a time, under a burning, cloudless Nashville sky, on the shores of a glinting lake, between sycamores and tall grass and forbidden trips to the railroad tracks.

For me, summer was escaping into world after world through words, thinking through them as I walked to the park and imagining myself in them as I climbed trees.

School would get out and for a few days my brothers and I would be blissful outside from dawn til dusk, and maybe we’d go to a camp, if my parents could afford it, but mostly we ended up bored, shoved out the door after breakfast and told to be back when the street lamps came on. With that kind of endless daylight, there are only so many times you can jump in the pool or throw a tennis ball against the wall. While my brothers went fishing or made slingshots, I walked to the public library.

Every few days, I brought plastic bags that my mom used for groceries and filled them with books to bursting, which, once or twice, they actually did, all over the sidewalk as I was walking home. I lay in my cool bed or in the shade of the backyard and I read until dinnertime, sometimes through dinnertime, past lights out, until my parents told me to stop or I would ruin my eyes. (I did ruin my eyes, by the way. I have a -5.25 prescription, getting worse by the day.)

As a result, my brain became infected with words. After many summers reading the shelves twice over, I had become to think in a rhythm. Paragraphs came out of me like the words to a song I had heard over and over. Perhaps not great writing, but quick and abundant enough that practicing didn’t feel like practicing. Because I had consumed so many sentences, constructing them was an act of pure muscle memory, and it remains that way.

The opportunity to write Bryce’s story came about because I needed to way to fill summer days, and I happened to get good at the thing I chose. In her summer, Bryce must make choices of much more immediate consequence: whether or not to go after the love of her life who is about to be married to someone else, whether or not watch her torn family deteriorate or to step in and save them, whether or not to give up on herself, trapped in a broken body.

Even as I can see sweat pooling under my clothes already and all I want to do is pour water on myself and sleep, and even though I am no longer a school kid with nothing to do, writing Anything But Ordinary has taught me that summers matter. Summers far off in the past matter now, as they do for me, and the present summer will matter forever, as Bryce’s did. And heck, considering how bright and quick they burn out, Minnesota summers matter more than anyone’s. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get out there before the sun goes down. After I finish writing, that is.

If you would like to enter to win a copy of Lara's book Anything but Ordinary please enter here:  Anything but Ordinary Giveaway