Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q&A with Sarah N. Harvey

Sarah N. Harvey is the author of the new young adult novel Spirit Level. Her other books include the young adult novels Deadly and Three Little Words. In addition to her writing, she is a children's book editor and she also has worked as a bookseller. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Spirit Level, and for your main character, Harry?

A: Ah, that question! Where do ideas come from? The best answer I can come up with is that I read an article about a sperm donor who discovered he had 500+ donor kids!

And then I wondered what it would be like to be one of those kids (imagine finding out you have that many half-siblings) and then Harry kind of popped into my mind—a donor-conceived child who had never had any interest in finding her half-sibs or her donor.

She reads about the donor with the 500+ kids and starts to wonder if she might be one of them…She has no interest in finding her donor—just her sibs.

I wanted her to be from a very happy family: her mom and her grandma (who is not a blood relation at all) are everything to her.

Q: One of the novel's themes is the idea of family, and what it means. Why did you decide to focus on family relationships?

A: All my novels are about family—what it means to be in one, the endless variety of families, the challenges, the joys. Families are our first communities and I wanted Harry to step outside the micro-community of her family and encounter the larger community of her half-siblings and their families.

As well, I wanted her to experience the lives of young people who don’t have the protection of a family.

Q: How was the novel's title selected, and what does the title signify for you?

A: The novel refers to an actual object that appears in the book, but it also refers to the fact that Harry is known for her level-headedness. There’s also a connection between keeping your spirit “level” when your world turns upside down. 

Q: Do you know how your novels will end before you start writing them, or do you make many changes as you go along?

A: Sometimes I think I know, but I am often wrong. I re-wrote the entire second half of Spirit Level at my editor’s suggestion—and she was right! It’s a much better book for having a different ending.

And yes, I make many, many changes as I go along. I am an editor by trade—I can’t help but self-edit. Sometimes it’s a good thing—other times it bogs me down to be so self-critical.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am in the daydreaming stage—not actively writing anything at all. It’s almost summer here on the west coast of BC. Not going to spend it in front of a computer!

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I love to hear from readers—they can reach me through my website.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

1 comment:

  1. Nice Q&A. Makes me want to read the book, which is always a good thing.