Hello! Sasha here! I've been given the opportunity to interview the amazing Candace Ganger! When she's not writing, she's either stress baking, taming her two kids (and cats!), or running through cemeteries. Candace wrote one of my favorite books of 2017. The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash is both a heart-tugging and heart-warming story that I couldn't help but fall in love with! It's in bookstores now, and you definitely don't want to miss out. You can see more of Candace's adventures on both Twitter and Instagram! Okay, I don't want to keep you waiting on today's interview any longer! Let's get to it!
Sasha: You've said before that this novel is the "heart & soul" of your life. Can you tell us a little what it's about?
Candace: It absolutely is the heart & soul of my life, for many reasons. A lot of myself is woven into those chapters and characters. In short, it's about two teens who fall in love, unknowing of each other's connection to a local tragedy. But more than that, it's about life and loss, science and faith and the need to always have hope — no matter what.
Sasha: Due to the similarities between your life and the novel, I can imagine that it was difficult at some points to write about certain events. What scene was the hardest to write?
Candace: The trauma scenes were challenging because they were inspired by something that happened in my family a long time ago (before I was even born). I had to imagine what they went through, then try to re-imagine a similar, yet different, story to tell. However, I also took great comfort in knowing how I'd end that particular thread. I had to remind myself I was writing fiction, and could do so however I wanted. It didn't have to be *so* close to the truth. I could bend and break pieces apart and put them together any way I wanted.
Sasha: I love how you wrote the novel from two character's perspectives. Which side of the story can you relate to most, and why?
Candace: Thank you! I'm definitely a mix of both, though I lean towards Bash because we may appear a certain way on the outside, but inside, we really just need a hug. I was like Bash growing up, too. I barely graduated, felt like I had no future — that no one cared how I ended up, or where. I was directionless, and made a lot of mistakes. But also like Bash, I've learned from them, and hope to be better today than I was yesterday.
Sasha: Out of all the subjects at school, Birdie is best at chemistry. Why did you choose chemistry to be her natural gift?
Candace: It felt like The Collision Theory (which has always fascinated me) was the best metaphor for every theme in this book. In making Birdie an expert, she could convey her deepest feelings about everything going on by how they related to chemistry. This is totally something I'd do in real life to avoid directly stating my feelings to someone!
Sasha: Bash has a great passion for drawing bears. What animal are you the most like?
Candace: Honestly, I'm a total bear just as Bash describes: solitary. I'm also a protective momma bear to my two cubs ! If I could be anything else, it'd be a cat. Because I love cats to an unhealthy degree.
Sasha: There are many traumatic experiences and tough decisions that both Birdie and Bash have to deal with. What advice would you give to your readers who may be going through extremely difficult times similar to Birdie and Bash?
Candace: Oh, my. First of all, I've been there. I've lost people close to me. I've been through depressions and feelings of hopelessness and despair. Through any tough time, I think it's important to give yourself a break and remember you're only human; you can only take so much before you'll feel like breaking down — and that's OK. Just as Sarge says, there's going to be a "before" and an "after." If you embrace that, instead of fight it, it'll be easier to find that hope (and light) again.
Sasha: Now for the question I've been dying to ask: Birdie has a secret that she didn't want her parents to find out from her sister, but it was really weighing her down. In a lighter sense, are there any secrets of yours hidden in your novel that you are willing to expose?
Candace: There are many, actually! *winks* I think the only one I can reveal is that I also think fate is a man! And I loathe glitter.
Sasha: On your Twitter and Instagram, you post a lot about your love for cats. I can relate! My question is, do you enjoy annoying your cats as much as Birdie does with her cat, Chompers, in the novel?
Candace: I do! Very much! Though, my fluffy cat, Feathers, is my therapy cat. She senses anxiety and comes to my aid. I would never call her an "inconsiderate jerk" the way Birdie jabs at Chomperz.
Sasha: Obviously I'm a huge fan of your novel, and I'm confident that many other people will enjoy it as much as I did. What are some other young adult novels that you would recommend to your readers?
Candace: You're the sweetest — thank you so much for saying that! There's a lot of great books on my desk right now (what a time to be alive!). I've got When the Moon Was Ours and The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, And I Darken by Kiersten White, and (literally) any Courtney Summers novel to shout to the moon about. Gae Polisner's Memory of Things was fantastic. Nina LaCour's We Are Okay was beautiful. I can go on all day!
Sasha: So what's next for you, Candace? Do you have any projects or ideas that you could tell us about?
Candace: My next book is with my editor now, titled Fallen Loved Ones Awaiting Transfer (#float). I don't know how much I can say about it just yet, except there will be red balloons, Lucky Charms, adventures, podcasts, Rosie the Riveter, and a young girl's journey battling mental health stigmas while finding her footing after the biggest loss of her existence. It's truly a work of so many personal issues, I hope it resonates as deeply (if not more) than Birdie & Bash.
That’s it for today’s interview with Candace, but don’t leave just yet. We’ve got an amazing giveaway for our readers. Just click on the image below and enter to win a signed copy of Candace’s book, plus some awesome bookmarks and a book plate. The contest ends on Tuesday, August 8th, and the winner must live in the United States. And don’t forget to come back next week when Julie Anne will be talking with Martin Griffin, author of the YA thriller Lifers. See you then!