Today I welcome fellow writing group member, Sharon Woolich, to my blog. Sharon is an Australian author of Young Adult novels, and the first book in her Divine Trinity series – Divine – is to be released in the Winter of 2014 through publishers, Renegade YA.
Sharon, congratulations on your forthcoming release.
I see your novel, Divine, is part of a series. Can you tell me a little about the world you’ve created?
Divine exemplifies extraordinary things happening to ordinary people. As such, the world is one we can all relate to, where folks pin notices on boards and young people hang out to whittle away the summer. There’s a small town mentality, capturing both the positives and negatives of living in a smaller community. As you can possibly imagine, everyone knows everyone and some think they know best.
My main character, Olivia, is new to town and not exactly extroverted, so it’s interesting to learn her complicated first impressions and, as time goes on, how she finds her place in it all.
Geographically, the town at the center of the story – of the fictional variety – sits at the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I built the town from research of many different places in that vicinity, taking a piece from here, and a bit from there. Collectively, it’s created a lovely little town by the name of ‘Manor’.
Is there a hidden message in your story and if so what is it?
I’d love to divulge the hidden message, but that would ruin the experience! That’s what makes this series interesting, I think. There’s mystery riddled throughout so much of the plot (and many subplots). The first book will tease you, leaving you satisfied but with many questions. The second will possibly make you think you know where it’s going – I expect quite a few theories from readers (looking forward to this!). The third book will reveal all – but not right until the very end.
What’s great about it is that you learn the pieces of the puzzle as Olivia does. It’s an action-packed journey filled with danger and triumph, love and loss. And that’s about all I can say on the matter. Heh.
Fair enough. :-) Does your main character, Olivia Mae Batkop, have any traits that could be found in yourself?
Perhaps. I mean, they say you should write what you know. We have some similar life experiences and hobbies i.e. soccer. But we’re quite different in other ways. Olivia deals with things differently to me at the same age. She strikes them head-on, and is far more selfless than I could ever be. I like her. Though, as an adult with the benefit of hindsight, I can see how she could handle things better. The book is in first person so of course you, as the reader, are only privy to her internal thoughts. Where she might feel a bit indignant or clueless about something, you might want to shake her and/or give her a talking to. But that’s kind of the point. We’re human, after all. She makes mistakes, and teenagers make mistakes particularly well – at least, I know I did.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
As I’m sure you understand, writing a book is a bit like creating a puzzle. You can’t force the pieces to fit; you have to caress them into place. All one thousand of them. It’s painstaking, and greatly satisfying at the same time, just like anything you have to work at to achieve.
Which two mainstream authors would you say your work most closely resembles and why?
This question pops up quite a bit when you’re hunting down a publisher for your book. Honestly, I never quite know how to answer it. Like most people, there are writers I admire, with writing skills and storytelling I aspire to: Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, David Eddings, Daphne Du Maurier, Anne Rice… and countless others. I can’t compare my books to theirs – that would be ridiculous. But one day, with a lot of work and many more stories under my belt, I hope to.
I’m more interested to learn what the readers will compare Divine to, based on how they perceive what I’ve put on the paper. This is the true test of the book, I believe.
Wow. Wasn’t that a convoluted non-answer to your question! Heh.
What do you think readers will enjoy most about your novel?
The journey. The discovery. The mystery. All of the above. Then, of course, there are the characters. You’ll meet a motley bunch of kids that’ll throw caution to the wind, each for their own set of agendas, mostly pure. You’ll root for them, cry for them, and miss them when it’s all over.
How do you balance writing with all of life’s responsibilities? Which ones do you have to juggle?
Gosh, where do I start?! I have three little girls, aged four, two and three months. This should be enough to bring my writing to its knees, right? But wait… there’s more! My husband and I run a very busy motorcycle performance manufacturing company. We sell our products all over the world, which means we have to be available to our customers around the clock, seven days a week, thanks to the mind-bending time differences. It’s exhausting but satisfying. On top of all that, we’re building a house for our little tribe. To be honest though, I’d be bored if I wasn’t so busy. Bring it on! *cries softly to herself in corner*
Is there anyone who stands out as a mentor in your writing career?
www.FlourishEditing.com) have helped me immensely. Salome Jones and Tim Dedopulos worked with me to hone my writing skills, which are of course, ever evolving. Salome runs a mentor program. She herself has earned a Master’s degree in writing from universities in both the United States and the United Kingdom, so it’s a very well rounded program comprised of the lessons she’s learned over her many years of study. I’d recommend her to anyone who wanted to improve his or her prose.
What is a typical writing day for you? Do you stick to a regimented pattern of writing so many words per day?
When I’m in the thick of the first draft, it’s all or nothing. I immerse myself in the story, the characters, the twists and turns. I’m completely useless for conversation during this time, unless of course if it’s about the story itself – just ask my husband! It’s as though I have to wrench the story out of my brain and onto the paper in one huge word vomit.
The second draft is a wholly different, and much lengthier, experience. Pleasant, mostly. Though, I labor over word choice – trying out five different variations before returning the first. All writers do this, don’t they? It sounds painful, but I quite enjoy this part of the process.
Where do you like to write? At your desk, or perhaps wherever looks comfortable at the time?
Where I’d like to write and where I actually write are two very different things. Perhaps we should discuss this in these terms: Before New House ‘BNH’ and After New House ‘ANH’. BNH has us in rather cramped quarters. With three little ones to watch over, it means we’re all in the same small space with a lot of noise and giggles and temper tantrums. Meanwhile, ANH will have a breathtaking view of the mountains out the back, the perfume of seawater wafting in at the front, and a number of places I can escape to slip into Olivia’s world while still being in range of the kids. I. CAN’T. WAIT.
Thanks for visiting today, and for sharing so generously with us. Good luck for the release of Divine (Winter 2014), and I’d love to have you come back again when you have the cover art.
Sharon Woolich discovered the joy of books when her third grade teacher read ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ to the class. The escape and wonder were so addictive, her nose never left the delicately inked pages of every good book she could find after that.
Finally, when it seemed like every good book had been thoroughly devoured – which isn’t true, of course, there are always a ton of good books to be read – Sharon interpreted it to mean it was time to create something to call her own.
She resides by the seaside in Brisbane, Australia, where she juggles her writing with a family business, and being a mom to three beautiful girls.
“All of my worldly and unworldly possessions are hereby bequeathed to my only grandchild, Olivia Mae Batkop.”
That’s when it happened, right there. Olivia hadn’t a clue what it meant. Why should she? No one had ever bothered to explain the family secret, not even when it was shoved upon her just weeks after her Grandfather’s death. Turns out, this was the moment an ancient spirit infused inside of her.
A 16-year-old with a troubled past, Olivia’s the kind of girl who doesn’t believe what she can’t see. Imagine her reaction then, when she starts to see the past, the future, all as if it were a dream. If that wasn’t troubling enough, when she begins to involuntarily fling things across a room, it’s enough for her to begin to question her sanity.
As she seeks to uncover the full extent of her unwieldy new talents – let alone her untold family history– they encounter one who could explain Olivia’s inexplicable link to the spirit. Unfortunately, he’s the man who murdered her grandfather, and he’s hell-bent on terminating Olivia next, even if he has to sacrifice the whole town to do it.
She’s not entirely alone, though. Her staunchest ally is a little girl who thinks Olivia’s the bees’ knees. Then there’s the cute boy she’s dating, a second cute boy she wishes she was dating (who, funnily enough, really doesn’t like the first), and an older girl who might just be a psycho... It’s not much of an army, but if Olivia’s going to find a way to unlock her new abilities and save the town – and her own life – she’s going to need all the help she can get.