Thursday, January 08, 2009

FREEBIE FRIDAY with Sara Zarr!

Happy Friday!

A couple of business things before we get started. First, I apologize that Aphra's twitter updates have been sporadic over the past couple of days. Twitter's been having some issues. I may have to reconsider the format of this novella. In the meantime, please bear with me.

Also a reminder, just one more day to enter to win a signed ARC of DEATH BY DENIM over at Teen Fiction Cafe. Plus, if you head over now (and by now I mean after you have read and commented on Sara's interview) you can also enter to win some fabulous books from Melissa Walker!

And now, I'm excited to bring you an interview with the incomparable Sarah Zarr to celebrate the recent release of her best-selling book SWEETHEARTS in paperback and the release of DOES THIS BOOK MAKE ME LOOK FAT? in which Sarah writes about body image.

What inspired you to write Sweethearts?
Around the time I needed to get going on my second book for Little, Brown, a childhood friend got back in touch with me. Even though we hadn't seen each other or talked in thirty years, this bond was still there. That got me asking "what if" questions - what if we'd never lost touch? What if we'd known each other in high school? What if we ended up in different groups of friends? Would the loyalty be there, and, if so, why? The story grew from there.

How about your contribution to Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?
Oh, I feel like I could write ALL DAY about body image, weight, and food. That made it hard to focus on one thing for the essay, but one of my clearest and most humiliating memories is of going to this jerk doctor at age 16 and him saying all kinds of horrible things, like: "You don't have to eat everything in the grocery store." and "Don't you want a boyfriend?" and other lovely encouragements to me, a young girl who was, at that time, maybe 15 pounds overweight. That memory got me thinking about how self-loathing, ultimately, is totally counter-productive to self-care. I had to learn to not hate myself in order to start tackling my food and weight issues. I think if we could see nutrition and exercise as ways to love ourselves instead of punishment, it would make the whole process a lot easier.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
Ha ha, wouldn't you like to know! (Are blogs admitted as evidence in a court of law?)

What excites you?
Connecting with people. There is nothing better than when you genuinely spark with someone, or share some understanding that only takes a look or a word to say volumes. I'm not talking romance, here, just the many cool connections you encounter in all areas of life.

What turns you off?
Willful stupidity and intentional cruelty. Also: giant Mr. Universe muscles.

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
Now that I've been lucky enough to meet a bunch of my idols and some pretty famous people, I know that they are just normal people and they don't have any magical powers or answers, and I'd hate to waste my weekend retreat on someone famous who turns out to be as boring as me. So, let's say my maternal grandfather, who I never met and was also a writer. I'd love to share that family connection and also talk about the craft.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I once chased John Ritter down the street. (This was before I had my realization about famous people.)

What's your favorite quote?
I have many, many favorites. Here's one that will make me seem really smart: "Real art creates myths a society can live instead of die by, and clearly all modern society is in need of such myths." - John Gardner

Milk Chocolate or Dark?
I used to always say milk, but in the last year I've found myself converting to dark, and trying fancy organic and gourmet varieties. Dark seems to have more complexity, and anyone who has read my books knows I love dark complexity!

And now for the Freebie - Sara has graciously offered a signed paperback edition of SWEETHEARTS! To be entered to win, leave a comment below. Let's talk body image this week. What advice would you give a friend or sister (or brother - boys have body image issues, too!) or yourself to help develop a healthy body image?