Author: Holly Schindler
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Publication Date: May 17 (TODAY!!!)
Other Books by Holly Schindler: Feral
The local Avery Theater was just a run-down building to Quin—until her mother told her the tragic love story of Nick and Emma that played out on the theater’s stage all those years ago. Quin is convinced it’s the perfect story to rewrite for her drama class, but when she goes searching for more information, she makes a startling discovery—the Avery is rapidly regaining its former splendor and setting the stage for her classmates Dylan and Cass to relive Nick and Emma’s romance. Quin can see the spark between them, but it’s up to her to make sure her friends—and the Avery—can both be saved this time around.
The Spark of Inspiration (Plus Sneak Peek!)
No two books ever begin the same way. I’ve had books that began by seeing the main character in my mind (that happened with my MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, a book about a young girl who becomes a folk artist). I’ve had books begin with a scenario—a WHAT-IF (that happened with my first YA, A BLUE SO DARK—a book about a girl dealing with a schizophrenic mother). But SPARK, more than any other of my books, really came to me in waves.
To begin with, I wanted to write a book about two obviously “flawed” characters who—in the beginning—really had an obvious dislike for each other. (In a way, I was kind of playing with the whole love-makes-you-see-the-other-person-in-a-new-light feeling.) But then I began to realize that I wanted them to literally see each other—and themselves—without their perceived shortcomings. Where could that possibly happen?
The theater. Of course! When a person steps out on the stage, they become a new person. They get the freedom to step outside of themselves.
As I continued to brainstorm and draft chapters, a new phrase kept hitting me: the magic of the theater. The book began to take a new turn…because I knew I was going to explore that aspect in a literal way. So rather than writing a purely contemporary book, I was writing a piece of magical realism…
Just as no two books ever begin with the same kind of spark, they also don’t move through the writing process in the same way. I wrote and rewrote SPARK—deleting passages, reworking sections, finding a new idea to jumpstart the action on page one, etc.
The section of the book that I reworked more than any other is that first section in which the theater comes to life—it’s such a balancing act, bringing in magic without overwriting. Here’s a small passage from that scene:
The late-afternoon sun is brutal. That is, until a cloud slides between me and the sun, dragging a silky-cool breeze across my skin.My smile vanishes when I find myself staring at a midnight darkness that has inexplicably appeared over the square. Night has fallen. Stars glitter. The moon hovers.“What—?” I mumbled as I shudder against a sudden child. What is this?I tremble, confused and startled, as a tiny yellow light flashes. A firefly, blinking adamantly. It shouldn’t be here—no more than a night sky should appear in the middle of the day.The firefly zips away. And then it rises—higher, higher, toward the empty marquee and the broken neon Avery Theater sign.A sudden pop from the front o the Avery sends a shower of orange sparks exploding across the night sky.The old dilapidated neon Avery Theater sign flicks to life, glowing yellow. The marquee buzzes, emitting a high-pitched electric hum.It can’t be! The Avery is young again. She’s risen from the dead.
About the Author
Holly Schindler’s work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, has won silver and gold medals in ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, has been featured on Booklist’s Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal’s What’s Hot in YA, and has been a PW Pick of the Week. She is owned by a Pekingese named Jake, and can be found working on her next book in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri. She can also be found at hollyschindler.com.