Hey! Sasha here! I've been given the great opportunity to be joined by the amazing Cecilia Galante, a novelist who’s got more than a dozen books published! Her newest book, Stealing Our Way Home, is a heart-wrenching, touching story that you definitely don't want to miss out on. Especially since it's already in stores! You may have heard of Cecilia before, but if not, she is on Instagram and Twitter. Okay, I know I'm excited for this interview, which means, you must be too. Let's get started!
Sasha: Your new book Stealing Our Way Home just came out in July. Could you give our readers a brief description of what it's about?
Cecilia: Everything changed after Pippa (who is 8) and Jack's (who is 12) mother died last spring. Pippa stopped speaking, Jack started picking fights, and their father's struggling business began to fail. Now, with school starting again, Pippa doesn't know how she'll manage a class presentation on Spartan warriors when she can't even find the words to tell her father that she wishes he were home more. And Jack is struggling to understand his feelings for the mysterious girl next door.
But when Jack and Pippa realize that their dad is getting so desperate for cash to keep the family afloat that he might be going to extreme -- and illegal -- lengths to make ends meet, they are faced with the biggest decision of their lives. The novel explores how far are these kids are willing to go to keep their family together and what it costs to lose - and find - one's voice.
Sasha: Even when Pippa's life gets hard, she knows that Nibs will always be there for her. Who is someone you trusted like that when you were Pippa's age?
Cecilia: Yes, I did have someone like that in my life when I was younger, which is why Nibs came to me as a fully-formed character and not just someone I had to imagine. Although my grandmother didn't wear overalls, she did wear pearls with every outfit. She loved lattes the way Nibs does, and she loved gardening. She grew roses that were the size of tomatoes. But her most important feature was her willingness to listen - as a child and through my young adulthood, I could always go to her and tell her how I was feeling and she would put everything down and let me talk. Even then, I knew how precious that was, and I've never forgotten it.
Sasha: Pippa also had to write a paper about someone she admires who had to face a tough battle. If you were to write a paper with the same topic, who would you write about?
Cecilia: What a great question! I would write a paper about my daughter Sarah. She is twenty-five years old and has already overcome some enormous hurdles in her life - obstacles that might flatten other people - with such grace and tenacity. She is a playwright, and I think her writing sees her through a lot of her challenges, just as it does for me.
Sasha: Jack and Pippa both feel like life is moving too fast, and in a direction neither of them want to go. What advice would you give to your readers who are unsure of what to do because they feel like life just keeps throwing things at them?
Cecilia: Just hang on. Life can be crazy and fast, and things that can happen, especially when they are in rapid-fire succession, can leave you feeling bewildered and absolutely lost. But you are not lost. There is always someone to find who you can talk to or share your fears with. And if you don't know of an actual human being, go to the library and find a book. That's what I did when things felt like they were spinning out of control and that I had no handle on anything that was happening. Sometimes finding a character in a book you can relate to can be just as consoling as sitting with a real person. Maybe even more so.
Sasha: There are a few times throughout the novel that the characters discuss scar stories. Do you have any of your own that you could tell us about?
Cecilia: Yes, I have several scar stories! I'll tell you a funny one. I have a big square scar on my rear end. I got it as a kid when I decided one rainy Saturday to put on my roller skates and skate around my little brother's room. My brother, who still slept in a crib then, had a room with a very slick, hardwood floor. Unfortunately, his crib had a big screw sticking out of one end of it, and as I propelled myself backward across the floor, I lost my balance, rammed into the crib, and found myself with a screw sticking into my rear!! Not funny then of course, but hilarious now.
Sasha: One of the main themes in Stealing Our Way Home is that family is worth risking anything for. What's a time in your life when you took a risk on behalf of your family?
Cecilia: It was a very small family then (I have three children now), but when my oldest daughter was born, I had to take a enormous risk and leave her father, who was physically abusing me. It was a terrifying time - the biggest risk of my life - but I did it, and the courage I gained from taking that one step in my life changed me forever.
Sasha: I really enjoyed reading this novel. What are some other Young Adult books that you would recommend to your readers?
Cecilia: Some of my favorite YA books are probably not classified as YA, but they are all narrated by kids and they are still my favorite books of all time . They include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Night, The Giver, all the Little House on the Prairie books and Witness. Oh, and my new favorite one which just came out a little while ago is called My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - absolutely brilliant.
Sasha: I know you've written a few books besides this one, but what's next? Is there anything you can tell us about your next project?
Cecilia: I have a new novel coming out next summer called The Laws of Subtraction. It's about a girl who goes into foster care and discovers secrets about herself and her new family that change her in ways she never thought possible. I'm working on a new project after that one, but it's a secret!
That’s it for today’s interview with Cecilia, but be sure to come back next week when James will be interviewing acclaimed poet, playwright, and author Gary Soto. We’re even going to share an exclusive cut of music written by Gary. For more details, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Your life needs more YA. So does your inbox. Just for signing up you’ll be entered to win a copy of the brand new (and utterly hilarious) book I Hate Everyone But You by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, which just came out earlier this week.
See you next Sunday!