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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guest Post: Sara Bennett Wealer (Author of Rival)


Sara Bennett Wealer grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (the "Little Apple"), where she sang with the choir and wrote for her high school newspaper. She majored in vocal performance at the University of Kansas before deciding she had no business trying to make a career as an opera singer. She transferred to journalism school, where nobody cares if you can hit a high C or convincingly portray a Valkyrie.

Since then, Sara has been fortunate to make her living as a writer. She started as a beat reporter, then went on to work in public relations and advertising--even theme park design. Sara lives in Cincinnati with her husband and daughters, and she still sings when her schedule allows--most recently with the May Festival Chorus, the official choir of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

For more info on Sara, visit her sites:

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336

Summary: Brooke I don't like Kathryn Pease. I could pretend everything's fine between us. I could be nice to her face, then trash her behind her back. But I think it's better to be honest. I don't like Kathryn, and I'm not afraid to admit it. Kathryn I saw a commercial where singers used their voices to shatter glass, but the whole thing is pretty much a myth. The human voice isn't that strong. Human hatred is. Anybody who doubts that should feel the hate waves coming off of Brooke Dempsey. But I don't shatter; I'm not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren't on the outside. Brooke and Kathryn used to be best friends . . . until the night when Brooke ruthlessly turned on Kathryn in front of everyone. Suddenly Kathryn was an outcast and Brooke was Queen B. Now, as they prepare to face off one last time, each girl must come to terms with the fact that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had.

Guest Post:

1) Thank you Sara for giving me the chance to interview you! Your debut book, Rival, sounds like an interesting read, what inspired you to write it?

SBW: I was extremely active in singing and theater in high school, and we had a really good, competitive music department. Anybody who performs (or wants to perform) faces competition almost daily. Add in the natural angst that comes with being in high school, then mix it with the drama of friendships past and present and you've got quite a pressure cooker! Nothing in my personal experience was dramatic enough to turn into a novel, but I did want to capture what it felt like to have to practice and work and strive to be your best, all the while knowing someone else could, at any minute, perform better and knock you out of the spotlight.

At the same time, I wanted to explore the idea that friendships are often based on (and end because of) assumptions that we make about the other person. Often, you don't really know someone until you've hurt them or been hurt--until it's almost too late!

2) Throughout Rival, who was your favorite character creation?

SWB: I came to love and identify with both Brooke and Kathryn, my main characters, so I really can't pick one of them as a favorite. Instead I'll go with Kathryn's best guy friend Matt. He's geeky and loyal and smart, and I kind of let Kathryn dump on him more than she should. Poor guy. I hope he finds an awesome girl who's as fun as he is--someone who hasn't known him since second grade!

3) If you had to describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?

SWB: I don't know if I've ever said anything in just one word! What about "intimate?" Because I really tried to take readers inside these girls' heads and inside their relationship. I want readers to feel like they really know Brooke and Kathryn.

4) Has their been a time in your life where you experienced some type of rivalry?

SWB: Yes, see above! In order to create a good story, I focused RIVAL on an intense relationship between two girls. But when I think back on my own life I remember more a group of rivals. It sort of depended on the occasion: if it was time to audition for the school musical, then you were rivals with the girls who had voices and styles that were similar to yours. If it was contest season, you were rivals with the girls (and even guys) who might get a 1 over you. (A 1 was a top score... getting less than a 1 was cause for much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.) Basically, it was about wanting to be recognized as a member of the elite. More than that, I think, it was about not wanting to get left behind. Wow, is it any wonder performers can be so neurotic sometimes?

5) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Rival?

SWB: I'm sure I'll be marking up my finished copies, trying to re-word phrases I don't like and beating myself up for not fixing tiny things. But overall, I think the book works. I'm proud of it and hope readers enjoy it!

6) Besides this book, do you have any other projects you're currently working on?

SWB: I've got a couple of projects in the works. My next published piece will be in the DEAR BULLY anthology that's being published this fall by HarperCollins. Then I'm working on a story that has something of a supernatural element, though it's not about creatures or special powers - I don't want to reveal too much about it since it's so early! I've also got a story about sorority rush that's had a few looks, so we'll see where that goes. At this point, I feel like anything's possible.

7) Last but not least, do you have anything specific that you want to say to your current and future readers?

SWB: If you're a singer or at all interested in the arts, then I hope RIVAL rings true for you. If you're not into that kind of thing, there's a lot more to this book than "artsy fartsy" stuff. You've got romance, intrigue, a Homecoming dance--something for everybody! And if you've got a rival of your own, then I hope this book brings a bit of perspective. Rivalries can be good things if, instead of bringing out the worst in you as a person, you let them bring out the best in you as a performer.

Thank you Sarah, this guest post was great!


Jill said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the interview!

Anonymous said...

Go, Sara! I have my copy and can't wait to read it.

Mrs. DeRaps said...

I just finished reading Rival this morning. I loved it! It was so realistic and much more complex than a "typical" female rivalry. Congrats to Ms. Bennett Wealer on writing such a great debut!

Fiktshun said...

Great interview questions! Loved this book and can't wait to see what's coming next from the author - and learn more about the possible supernatural story!

It was so nice to see both sides to be able to see both sides to this rivalry rather just having the one p.o.v.

the Vintage Bookworm said...

Thanks for sharing this interview! I have this book on my list for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. I can't wait for it to come out so I can read it. :) The cover is beautiful.

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