When Stephanie approached me about her novel in verse I had a feeling it would be a great story. And it was! Check out my review from yesterday to see what I thought. The awesome Stephanie Parent is here today to talk about Defy the Stars and more. She has also offered a great giveaway for you as well, which is awesome for you guys.
So, please join me in welcoming the lovely and gracious Stephanie Parent to Thoughts At One In The Morning!
T@1AM: What inspired you to write Defy the Stars?
Stephanie: I had written a previous novel in verse and received feedback from editors that it wasn’t “edgy” or dramatic enough for today’s YA market, so I knew I needed to go further in my next novel. Someone in the publishing industry actually suggested the idea of a modern Romeo and Juliet story involving drug addiction. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but then I reread the play and was struck by how well the “poison” in the original play correlated with modern drug use. I was also frustrated with several recent YA books that I think portray Romeo and Juliet in an overly simple, one-sided way, and I wanted to explore Shakespeare’s work in a deeper way.
T@1AM: Since your novel is written in verse, I'm curious to know if you also enjoy poetry. What are your favorite poets/poems?
Stephanie: I do love poetry! My first love has always been fiction because of my deep appreciation for story and character, but I’m also very drawn to the emotional, intimate experience poetry often provides. I actually find my experience of poetry and music (both with and without lyrics) very similar—both of them seem to bypass logic and narrative to get to the real emotional core of an experience. I will say that, like many people, I can become frustrated by complex poetry when I feel like I just don’t “get it.”
As for my favorite poets, I absolutely love Emily Dickinson. She was actually one of those poets I felt I didn’t quite “get” when I studied her in high school and college, but the older I get, the more I appreciate her poems. I love her simple, dark, insightful words and her uses of dashes to create such a sense of movement in her poems. A more contemporary poet I really love is Louise Gluck. I love the way she reworks classic myths and fairy tales in her poems, and how quietly heartbreaking so much of her writing is. Her take on Hansel and Gretel, “Gretel in Darkness,” is stunning and unsettling.
T@1AM: I read in another interview how you love free verse novels. Could you tell us your favorites?
Stephanie: It’s so hard to pick! One absolutely amazing, completely original verse novel I have to mention is Martine Leavitt’s My Book of Life by Angel, which was just released on September 4th. This is the gritty, uncompromising story of a teenage prostitute on the streets of Vancouver, and the author was inspired by the real-life disappearance of a number of prostitutes in the Vancouver area. The poetry format works perfectly to illustrate Angel’s broken psyche and her broken world, and Leavitt works in excerpts and themes from Paradise Lost to stunning effect.
Another verse novel I really love, which I think definitely deserves more recognition, is Dead on Town Line by Leslie Connor. At less than 10000 words, this book is short even by verse standards, but the author manages to tell a complete, moving, satisfying story that somehow feels more like a novel than a short story or novella. Sort of a YA version of The Lovely Bones, this book is dark and sad, yet ultimately hopeful.
On a lighter note, I absolutely love Sonya Sones’ companion verse novels, What My Mother Doesn’t Know and What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. Sones is one of those authors who just makes it look so easy—her verse is deceptively simple but so clever, elegant and charming, it will definitely leave a smile on your face.
T@1AM: What do you want readers to take away from this story?
Stephanie: I don’t want to get too specific, because one of the things I love most about literature is that everyone gets something different out of a story based on their own experiences and viewpoint. I do hope that Defy the Stars makes people think about their own assumptions—whether they be about love at first sight, fate, crime, loss, drug use, or any other aspect of the story—and perhaps look at their beliefs from a new perspective.
Thank you so much for coming by to chat Stephanie!
Stephanie Parent is a YA author repped by Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major.
~Find Stephanie on her Blog, Goodreads, and on Twitter~
Defy the Stars
Julia Cape: A dedicated classical piano student just trying to get through her last semester of high school while waiting to hear from music conservatories.
Reed MacAllister: A slacker more likely to be found by the stoners’ tree than in class.
Julia and Reed might have graduated high school without ever speaking to each other…until, during a class discussion of Romeo and Juliet, Julia scoffs at the play’s theme of love at first sight, and Reed responds by arguing that feelings don’t always have to make sense. Julia tries to shake off Reed’s comment and forget about this boy who hangs with the stoner crowd—and who happens to have breathtaking blue eyes—but fate seems to bring the two together again and again. After they share an impulsive, passionate kiss, neither one can deny the chemistry between them. Yet as Julia gets closer to Reed, she also finds herself drawn into his dark world of drugs and violence. Then a horrific tragedy forces Julia’s and Reed’s families even farther apart…and Julia must decide whether she’s willing to give up everything for love.
Defy the Stars is written in an edgy free-verse style that will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder; however, the writing is accessible enough to speak to non-verse fans as well. The novel’s combination of steamy romance and raw emotion will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Echols, and Tammara Webber. With a story, language and form that both pay homage to and subvert Shakespeare’s play, Defy the Stars is much more than just another Romeo and Juliet story.
Add it to your Goodreads shelf
Buy it on Amazon
Stephanie has generously offered a e-copy of Defy the Stars for you, along with a $5.00 Amazon Gift Card!
1. You must be a follower.
2. You must be over 15 years old.
3. This is open internationally.
4. You can earn extra entries by answering the question provided on Rafflecopter in the comments below and following Stephanie on Twitter.
4. This contest runs from September 19th to 26th.
6. Winner will be selected on September 27th and notified via blog post announcement and email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you so much for reading, following, and entering!