Hey there, book nerds! It’s James, and I’m joined today by the incredible Sara Farizan. I’ve been a big fan of hers since her first book, If You Could Be Mine, dropped in 2013. Her newest book, Here To Stay, just came out last month and is easily one of my favorite novels of the year. It’s a basketball book, but it’s also a story about fighting for what (and who) you believe in. Check out the interview below, and then be sure to enter our giveaway at the bottom of this page for a chance to win a signed copy!
James: Hey Sara! I just finished your new book Here To Stay, and it left me with all the feels. Can you tell our readers a little bit about what they can expect?
Sara: They can expect lots of humor, basketball, cyberbullying, more humor, parties, standing up for yourself and others, heart, a main character who is not perfect but that they will want to root for. Did I mention humor?
James: Bijan's such a fantastic narrator. I especially love the two basketball announcers he's got mentally broadcasting his life. If you had to pick someone to narrate your life, who would it be?
Sara: Yes, Bijan has Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller give commentary to his life, particularly when he's dealing with anxiety or needs a minute. I would love for Kevin Conroy who did the voice of Batman on Batman the animated series to commentate my life but as Batman. It would make me feel like everything I was doing was really important. "There she is, filling her car's gas tank with gas. Impressive."
James: You had so many great characters in Here To Stay. Which one is the most like you?
Sara: I think all of them have bits of me (except for Will because he's an asshat). Bijan and I are a lot a like in that we both love basketball, comics, and have a hard time talking to our love interests. I'm also a bit like Sean in always cracking jokes. Stephanie and I were both in student government. I wish I was as cool as Elle or Erin.
James: Your title is taken from the shirts that some of Bijan's schoolmates wear in support of the school's controversial mascot, the Gunner. I love the way that the teens in your book stood up for what they believed in. It reminds me of some of my own students. What about this next generation gives you hope?
Sara: The reason I write for young students and in the voice of younger students is because I think the younger generation is always asking questions and adults don't do that as often. Young people are always wanting to ask why and how, which I think leads to trying to find solutions to those questions. I am sorry that the older generation has failed the younger generation in so many ways, and it shouldn't be their job to save us, but I think they will. I think young people are honest and know when something doesn't speak true or feel right.
James: Bijan's speech toward the end of the novel brought me to the brink of tears. Is it safe to say that it was based off conversations that you've had in real-life?
Sara: Crying is good! It's a release and thank you so much. His speech comes from a lot of years of having been asked a lot of dumb and personal questions over the years. He lets out a lot of what I'd like to say in one fell swoop but he has a slightly different background and perspective than I do. He doesn't say everything I'd like him to say because he's one kid and has one perspective.
James: Now I know you're a big basketball fan yourself. So I have to ask you the same question Todd asks his teammates... Who's the best Celtic of all time?
Sara: You can't pick just one! I agree with Bijan that Bill Russell is the greatest, but we cannot discount Larry Bird, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Kevin McHale, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, even Antoine Walker in the sad days of Celtics 90's. So many people have contributed over the decades. I'm very excited about this season and the team this year MUST STAY HEALTHY! They will be tough to beat.
James: Bijan's a total superhero nerd, and I love it. So, Sara, it's almost Halloween, and you have to dress up like a superhero. Who's it going to be?
Sara: Halloween is my favorite holiday. How did you know? I have dressed up before as Clark Kent in transition to Superman which was fun. I was also Raphael from TMNT when I was a kid. Nowadays I mostly dress up as once mighty music stars like Slash from Guns N Roses.
James: I have a feeling a lot of our readers are going to be heading to the bookstore after this interview. What are some of new YA books they should be adding to their book bags?
Sara: A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma, Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, Ship It by Britta Lundin, Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp, and Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
James: Here To Stay is your third book. Do you have a fourth one in the works?
Sara: I hope so! I am still trying to figure the new idea out. I have a short story coming out in an anthology called Hungry Hearts which should come out in summer of 2019.
James: Last question, so let's make it a fun one... What's your all-time favorite sports movie?
Sara: Oh man. I LOVE the Rocky franchise (except for Rocky 5). It is an incredible feat in American cinema and I mean that sincerely. Sure, there are silly parts in Rocky 3 and 4, but from the first Rocky to Creed, those movies hold up and always pump me up.
That’s it for today’s interview with Sara, but don’t leave just yet. We’re teaming up with Sara to give away a signed copy of Here To Stay. You can enter by retweeting this tweet and following Sara on Twitter. Good luck! And be sure to come back again for another awesome interview next week!