Thursday, September 7, 2017

0 Calla Devlin, author of RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME, on sharing your voice and story

We've had so many amazing authors provide interviews lately that we're spreading them out to Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than overwhelming our readers with writing wisdom on Saturdays.

We're excited to have Calla Devlin stop by to chat about her latest novel, RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME.

Calla, what was your inspiration for writing RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME?

I’ve always admired journalists, and even wanted to be one when I first went to college. In today’s world, news is extremely important and I regard journalists as essential as doctors. I took my admiration and created a novel about a journalist taken hostage while covering an earthquake, and how his daughter, an aspiring photojournalist, tries to do whatever she can to save him.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The main character, Charlotte, isn’t close to her mother. She’s much closer to her father, but in his absence, she and her mother spend a great deal of time together. They make a lot of assumptions about each other, and Charlotte especially misinterprets her mother in many ways. There’s a pivotal scene where Charlotte is trying to connect with her mom, but the conversation falls apart and Charlotte feels awful. They manage to work through that and come together. For the first time in a while, Charlotte feels seen by her mom. She feels loved.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Russian folklore.

How long did you work on RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME?

I wrote this one fairly quickly—a year—compared to my first novel, which took years and years.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

After writing Tell Me Something Real, I had a better understanding of how to write about families, especially grief. This novel came easier after having my first book under my belt. It’s easier for me to occupy the mind of a character more than their external lives, anything beyond an intense relationship. I learned a lot about that process.

What do you hope readers will take away from RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME?

This novel is about a girl finding not only her voice, but the best way to express it. I hope that readers will recognize themselves in that. We all have a story and a point of view. Our voices matter. I hope readers will find the best medium to tell their stories, just as Charlotte did.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I’m very fortunate and grateful to have a home with Atheneum Books/Simon & Schuster Publishers. My brilliant editor worked with me on Right Where You Left Me after publishing my first novel, Tell Me Something Real.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Oh my, I don’t know if I will ever feel like I have the key to writing the novel. If someone does, please email me! I’d love to hear it.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I can work just about anywhere and music is a must! I create long playlists and then listen to the same songs over and over again as I write. It drives my family insane. My children beg me to change the music. I love taking writing retreats and going to someplace quiet and hunkering down to write for days on end, only stopping to take long walks, eat, and hopefully sleep.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

You have a voice and a story. Share it!

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel about two best friends who find themselves in a very dangerous and harmful situation. They both have very different views about the event and how they should move forward—at the risk of losing their friendship.


Right Where You Left Me
by Calla Devlin
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released 9/5/2017

In search of the perfect story to put a human face on a tragedy for his newspaper, my dad will fly into the eye of the storm. And now he’s heading to Ukraine, straight into the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. I don’t want him to leave. I don’t want to spend the week alone in a silent house with my mother, whose classically Russian reserve has built a wall between us that neither of us knows how to tear down. But I don’t tell him this. I don’t say stay.

I think I’m holding it together okay—until the FBI comes knocking on our door. Now it’s all I can do to fight off the horrifying images in my head. The quake has left so many orphans and widows, but Mom and I refuse to be counted among them. Whatever it takes to get Dad back, I’ll do it. Even if it means breaking a promise…or the law.

Purchase Right Where You Left Me at Amazon
Purchase Right Where You Left Me at IndieBound
View Right Where You Left Me on Goodreads


Calla Devlin is the author of Tell Me Something Real, a finalist for the PEN Literary Award and the Morris Award, and Right Where You Left Me. A Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award, her stories have been included in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Originally from California, she lives in Iowa with her family.


Have you had a chance to read RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT ME yet? Have you written a story about an occupation you admire? Do you listen to the same songs over and over again as you write? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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