Sarah, what scene in SPARROW was really hard for you to write and why?
I really, really struggled to write the scene with Dr. Katz, Sparrow and her mom. It felt like an important scene, and one that I really wanted to get right. So in the first (several) attempts, it was all wrong because I was trying so hard to get it all perfect. When I let go of getting it perfect, it finally came together. It was also hard to write the scene when Sparrow goes to Leticia when Mrs. Wexler dies, because I kept crying (not like, oh, I am so moved by my own words, but because it reminded me of losses I experienced as a teenager).
What do you hope readers will take away from SPARROW?
I hope they take away whatever it is they need in that particular moment -- if that's just a good book recommendation or a new band, or if it's the courage to speak up even when everything in you wants to be silent, all of that is okay by me.
What did SPARROW teach you about writing or about yourself?
I'd never written fiction in my life before Sparrow, so it taught me a lot. I learned that I don't have to account for every single minute of her day, I can take Sparrow from therapy to home to a flashback to the next week without providing the real-time account of everything she did in between. I learned that not every sentence is followed by "she said" or "she thought".
What was your road to publication? How long did you work on SPARROW?
I started Sparrow in 2010. So, the road has been long and very winding. Because it's my first piece of fiction, I had a steep learning curve. At first I thought Sparrow was going to be a prose-poem, then I thought half the story was going to be told by Dr. Katz. There was a lot to figure out! Many, many thanks to Arthur Levine who patiently read through every single version.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
My writing ritual is whenever I can, however I can (even more so now that I have a new baby!). I write at home, almost always. Because I'm a teacher, I write during summer break and school vacations. My wife is a music supervisor, so I tell her about what I'm working on and ask her to make me a playlist for that. The playlist she made for Sparrow was basically the only thing I listened to for months. It's still one of my favorite playlists, even now that Sparrow has flown the nest.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a book about two teenaged sisters who try to make it on their own while their mom is in rehab. Hijinx ensue.
ABOUT THE BOOKSparrow
by Sarah Moon
Arthur A. Levine Books
Sparrow has always had a difficult time making friends. She would always rather have stayed home on the weekends with her mother, an affluent IT Executive at a Manhattan bank, reading, or watching the birds, than playing with other kids. And that's made school a lonely experience for her. It's made LIFE a lonely experience.
But when the one teacher who really understood her -- Mrs. Wexler, the school librarian, a woman who let her eat her lunch in the library office rather than hide in a bathroom stall, a woman who shared her passion for novels and knew just the ones she'd love -- is killed in a freak car accident, Sparrow's world unravels and she's found on the roof of her school in an apparent suicide attempt.
With the help of an insightful therapist, Sparrow finally reveals the truth of her inner life. And it's here that she discovers an outlet in Rock & Roll music...
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ABOUT THE AUTHORSarah Moon is a teacher, writer, and translator. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, with her wife, Jasmine, and their dog, Otis. She is the coeditor of The Letter Q, a young adult anthology. Sparrow is her first young adult novel.
Have you had a chance to read SPARROW yet?
Sarah points out that part of her learning curve was to stop accounting for Sparrow's whereabouts. What's your go-to method to eliminate the minutiae?
Like Sarah, emotional scenes are the toughest for me, too. What's the most difficult scene for you to write?
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