Welcome to another wonderful Sunday here at Pick My YA. Today’s #BeyondTheBio guest is the amazing Laura Silverman. She’s a debut author whose first book, Girl Out Of Water, comes out this Tuesday, and it’s guaranteed to give you all the feels. When she’s not writing, Laura loves reading books and talking about books, with some Netflix and dog-petting thrown in. I’m so glad she was able to join us today!
Psst… make sure to read until the end. You can enter to win a signed copy of Girl Out Of Water! But don’t tell anyone. It’s just between us, OK? Alright, let’s get to this interview!
James: Hi Laura! Thanks so much for joining us today! Your debut novel, Girl Out Of Water, comes out in a few days. Can you tell our readers a little bit about what we can expect?
Laura: Thank you for having me! Hopefully a sweet, funny coming-of-age story! It’s what happens when a Cali surfer girl has to spend the summer in landlocked Nebraska taking care of her three younger cousins. There are a lot of family dynamics, a swoony love interest, and an inordinate amount of food descriptions.
James: How much of yourself do you see in Anise?
Laura: On the surface we don’t have very much in common – I’m not athletic at all. But Anise has this fear of losing touch with her friends when they go to college or move away, and I shared a lot of those feelings when I went off to college. And I think it’s also a fear that transcends one age. People get new jobs and move. People get married and move. People feel like moving and move. I think a lot of us worry about maintaining our important relationships because distance feels so formidable.
James: One of my favorite things about this book was the way that you portrayed Lincoln's disability. Why was this an important decision for you?
Laura: Thank you! Lincoln was one of those characters that came to me as-is. Some characters I work at for drafts figuring them out. Some characters pop into my head almost fully fleshed-out. Lincoln was the latter. So it wasn’t a conscious decision to write a disabled character (though of course once he was there I did my research and worked with sensitivity readers), but I’m very grateful he popped into my mind. I wanted to make sure I wrote Lincoln, the person – not A Disabled Person. Not inspiration porn. Not one-dimensional-I’m-a-disability-and-nothing-else. There are a couple of moments when Anise says a wrong or awkward thing and Lincoln corrects her, but it was important his disability was never a plot device (one-dimension) or the reason for all of Anise’s growth (inspo porn). Rambling, sorry! Basically my main hope was just to normalize disability. Lincoln’s disability isn’t him. He’s Lincoln, and he has a disability.
James: Based on your own experiences with chronic pain, what's one thing you wish everyone knew about chronic illness?
Laura: SO many things. But just one? Please don't give us health tips or medical advice of any kind unless we specifically ask for them. You don’t know our full medical histories or everything we’ve tried. We have doctors, so friends and family should focus on being friends and family. It always hurts when I get a message from a friend I haven’t talked to in months but then it’s just a Buzzfeed link on some medical finding as opposed to them actually checking in on me, the person. I understand they mean well, but it’s kind of like what I said with Lincoln – it makes me feel like I’ve just become Disabled Person to them instead of their friend.
James: What are some other YA books that you'd recommend for those seeking positive disability rep?
Laura: I keep recommending this one but UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES has the best mental illness/invisible disability rep I’ve ever read – not to mention, the protagonist is the sweetest. It’s #ownvoices about a girl with agoraphobia, and it’s one of the best books on my shelf. Norah is so endearing and the disability rep is so spot-on and natural. *happy sigh* Everyone should definitely read it. I can’t wait to reread it!
James: What's next for you, Laura? Any future projects you can tell us about?
Laura: I recently sold my second book, WITHOUT ANSWERS. It’s also a YA contemporary. It’s very much a work in progress, but my character, Ariel, explores his Jewish identity and deals with intense academic pressure. And there may or may not be but definitely is a pretty swoony romance in there too. And I’m working on and thinking up other projects. I hope to write a main character with chronic pain in the near future!
James: Let's end with a speed round: Surfing or skateboarding?
Laura: *laughs* neither! Even before the chronic pain I wasn’t very athletic. How about I sit on the beach and read while occasionally watching people surf?
James: Deal. California or Nebraska?
Laura: Both! I love the beach, but I spent a lot of time researching Nebraska, and now I really hope I can visit one day!
James: Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, or Cocoa Puffs?
Laura: Hah! Hmm, Lucky Charms!
James: And, most importantly, Eric or Lincoln?
Laura: Yeah, Lincoln.
That's it for today's interview with Laura. If you have questions for Laura or want to let her know why you’re excited for Girl Out Of Water, be sure to reach out to her on Twitter or stop by her Tumblr. And if you want to win a free signed copy of Laura’s book, be sure to stop by our Twitter sometime today to find out how to enter. Winner must live in the US. We’ll see you back here again next week, when we'll be interviewing Ashley Herring Blake about her upcoming book, How To Make A Wish.