Saturday, March 17, 2018

0 Gae Polisner, author of IN SIGHT OF STARS, on being brave and trusting your gut

We're delighted to have Gae Polisner join us to share more about her latest novel, IN SIGHT OF STARS.

Gae, what was your inspiration for writing IN SIGHT OF STARS?

Often, I can only guess at my inspiration for writing books after they are finished. That whole hindsight is 20-20 thing, meaning I’m not necessarily aware of the insight at the time. With IN SIGHT OF STARS, suffice it to say, I have dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression in my family and spent a lot of time in different modalities of therapy, and so that aspect of the story is an integral part of my life. I’ve seen therapy not help, and I’ve seen good, skilled therapists work magic. Be lifesaving. Or at least life-changing.

But on a smaller more concrete scale, the first moment I remember coming to me in the story was the scene when Klee adds to Sarah’s artwork. My mother is an artist, and that is something you just don’t do, that Klee normally wouldn’t do: draw on someone else’s work. Because he, better than anyone, knows it is wrong, and yet, he’s so overcome he can’t – doesn’t – stop himself, that tiny moment tells you so much about Klee and where he is when our story opens. How he is. The rest of the story sprang from there. That “and yet,” that was the minute inspiration for IN SIGHT OF STARS.

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 kissing/sex scenes are always hard. But probably the two most difficult scenes in this particular story are the scene where Klee finds his father. . . and the scene where he finally confronts his mother. I feel particularly proud of those and hope they resonate for readers.

But I also love the lightness and truth of the Chutes and Ladders scene (I’m so glad my muse brought that to me), the epiphany of the “Zoom” scene, and the scenes at the pool with his father and with Sister Agnes Teresa. I feel the melancholy in those scenes in my bones, and they speak to me.

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

Oh wow. I’ve been getting some comparisons to Ned Vizzini’s IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. I bought the book for my son years ago but never read it. Now I really want to, though I’m afraid to, too. I’m sure I will pale in comparison to Ned Vizzini.

How long did you work on IN SIGHT OF STARS? 

This question is harder than you think. I wrote a first rough draft years ago, and did a few revisions. Fast forward past the release of THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO and the sale of THE MEMORY OF THINGS, I then dusted it off again. Did a major rewrite. Several more revisions. You do the math. I’m not great at the math of these things.

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

There are places in this book where I’ve done what I wanted to do even though that voice in my head said, but what if the reader doesn’t get it? Luckily, I have an editor who truly gets what I do, and nourishes it, and loves it. So, I guess, in some way, it taught me to be brave and trust my gut, and trust my readers. So far, so good.

What do you hope readers will take away from IN SIGHT OF STARS? 

Hope. That there are people out there who want to help. And that we also have the ability to help ourselves. I dunno. I want people – us all -- to not lose sight of the stars when the sky is so damned cloudy you doubt they ever existed.

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

Do you have five hours? Let’s just say, I have several unpublished works on my computer.

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? 

I’ll let you know when that happens. I wish I were kidding. (Though I do have more confidence now that I’ll somehow just make it happen, and know better how to keep pushing through).

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

 I mostly write every day, but I don’t always. Sometimes, I don’t write for a week or three. Depends what else is going on in my life. I write at home. With my sweet little dog staring at me with big soulful eyes that say, “Now can we play? How about now? Now?!?”

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

These always start sounding canned or cliché, don’t they? I guess because they’re true: Just write. Sit your ass down and write, or it won’t get written. Write through the crap. Get it down. Make it pretty later. Something like that.

What are you working on now? 

I’m working on a rewrite of a collaborative novel with my friend, and talented author of 14 books, Nora Raleigh Baskin that we’re pushing from YA to adult on revision. And I’ll hopefully be working on revisions to another YA soon. ** spits** **tosses salt** Ask me in another week or so.


In Sight of Stars
by Gae Polisner
Wednesday Books
Released 3/13/2018

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself―his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northhollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Stars is a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.

Purchase In Sight of Stars at Amazon
Purchase In Sight of Stars at IndieBound
View In Sight of Stars on Goodreads


Gae Polisner is the award-winning author of The Memory of Things, The Summer of Letting Go, and The Pull of Gravity. A family law attorney and mediator by trade, but a writer by calling, she lives on Long Island with her husband, two sons, and a suspiciously-fictional-looking small dog she swore she’d never own. When she’s not writing, she can be found in a pool, or better yet, in the open waters of the Long Island Sound where she swims upwards of two miles most days. She hopes one day soon to grow gills and morph into a mermaid.


Have you had a chance to read IN SIGHT OF STARS yet? Have you returned to a manuscript you wrote years ago? Are you able to write through the crap? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

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