Saturday, August 7, 2010

Interview with Shari Maurer, Author of Change of Heart

Hi, how are you doing ?

It's been quite a crazy starting of the month for me. Last week, my blog crashed and I finally got a chance to fix it today. Cross my fingers hope it doesn't happen again.

I am planning to have at least an interview with an author each month on my blog. I would hope to be able to host more than one author on my blog each month but my minimum would be one for now. For this month, I have an interview with Shari Maurer. She ventures into a slightly different yet amazing storyline with lots of heart. I think it is wonderful. To learn more about Shari and the things that inspire her check out the interview below :

Shari Maurer (Author of Change of Heart)

1. Can you share with us a little more on your background ? Have you always wanted to be an author? If no, then how and what inspired you to be one ?

After graduating college, I wound up in an MFA program in Dramatic Writing at NYU. An internship there led me to 6+ years at the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), working on international versions of Sesame Street and other children's programs, taking me all over the world. I kept working there after my daughter was born, but didn't want to travel and eventually realized I wanted to be home with her full time. During this time, my friend, Gerri Freid Kramer and I put together The Parents' Guide to Children's Congenital Heart Defects. My daughter and her son had heart defects that were repaired and we wanted to create a resource for other parents. I did a little writing here and there, but when my son went to kindergarten, I decided to take a class at the Institute for Children's Literature. This gave me a wonderful push back into writing.

So I guess that was a long way of saying I've always had writing in the back of my mind and only recently pursued it full time.

2. Did the place you grew up in, or the place you're living in right now inspired you to write ?

Change of Heart is set in New City, NY which is where I grew up and where I live now. I thought it would be fun to have a book set there. In fact, I was at both Rockland Lake and Twist N Shake yesterday--two of the places Emmi goes to in the book. That's cool !
3. Do you have a 'thing' you need or 'something' you do before you start writing away like a mug of coffee, nice music, a jog, etc ?

I was never a coffee drinker until I started writing, but now I really need to have it by my side. I've also started writing on a netbook. I found when I was on the regular computer I was too distracted by all the potential things I could do on the internet (Facebook, plan a vacation, check my kids' sports schedules, etc.)
4. When you write the characters in Change of Heart, was anyone of them based on someone you know in your life ?

Not really. But I did have the opportunity to speak to several transplant recipients and I occasionally borrowed something from them. Well, and if I'm confessing "borrowing", I do have a daughter and two younger sons, who like Emmi and her brothers, Jeremy and Eli, have the same beginning initials. And I may have borrowed a detail or two from their lives, but they resemblance ends there.
5. Writing about a girl with an almost perfect charmed life and then everything in her life is suddenly tumbling down so quickly due to a heart problem, was it difficult to picture the pain and the confusion in the characters? Did you experience or faced something like that in real life?

I tried very hard to imagine what it would be like to be a teen and have your life almost come to a halt. Luckily, I have not experienced anything as life altering.
6. Do you have a favorite book? If you do, why do you like it so much ?
To Kill A Mockingbird. Partly because I was always intrigued with all things southern (possibly why I went to college there) and partly because the story and characters are so amazing. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my close second.
7. What works of fiction, authors or books have influenced you in your own writing?

When I was younger it was Judy Blume and Paula Danziger. As an adult, I love Sarah Dessen's books. I have kept them on my desk and will refer to them if I'm trying to figure out something about structure or characterization.
8. What do you enjoy most about writing?

The ability to lose all sense of time as you create a whole other world.
9. So how did the storyline for Change of Heart came about? Did the idea and concept for the story just 'popped up' in your head one day by chance ?

I had been watching a Discovery Health program on heart transplants (my husband is a doctor who cares for people waiting for hearts) and there was a girl on the show who haunted me. She was so brave and strong and probably a little scared, too. I started thinking about all of the "what ifs" of her life and Emmi was born.
10. Why do you choose to write for teens (YA genre) ?

A combination of YA being what I love to read and wanting to write a book for my daughter. My big hope was that my first book would be published while she was still in high school and could appreciate it--and it was!

One more thing I'd like to add. As I wrote this book and started to promote it, I was overwhelmed by the lack of available organs (not just hearts) for people who so desperately need them. My husband and I started working with the New York Organ Donor Network to register as many new organ donors as possible. Please consider registering. For more information go to Thanks!

Thank you Shari for the interview! Thanks to my dear readers for reading this interview ! I hope you enjoyed it !

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Evernight Series by Claudia Gray

Book Title: Evernight
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 327
Release date: May 2008
Source: Author/ Publisher
Sixteen year old Bianca is against the idea of moving with her parents to the Evernight Academy from the small town where she was raised. Her parents would be taking jobs as teachers at the academy so naturally Bianca would be a student there.
Evernight is a boarding school with most of its popularity consisting of sleeks, smart and almost predatory students. These students are evidently more than humans. Bianca doesn’t quite fit in with the other students in her school.
Like every other rebellious teen, Bianca plans to run away on the first day of school however she bumps into brooding Lucas who drills some sense into her plans of escaping. She instantly forms a connection with him, the only person in the eerie place who seems decent enough. But sometimes secrets can rip apart the little connections we have with the people we might love.
My thoughts on the book:
I’ve got three words to describe this book: - amazing, brilliant, enchanting.
The storyline is original and yet it is not entirely out from the latest trend of stories that continue to rake in millions of teen readers across the globe in this season of YA genre. This book is the type with the saleable storyline and yet it still retains its own ingenuity. Claudia is truly an amazing story teller. The story was written beautifully and it was captivating.
I especially loved the part where Bianca first met Lucas. It was so cute!

Rating : 4 ½ stars !

Book Title: Stargazer
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 332
Release date: March 2009
Source: Author/ Publisher
In the second book of the Evernight Series, Bianca and Lucas face the harsh reality of their secrets and pasts.
Bianca has fallen irrevocably in love with Lucas. The only thing standing in between their relationship is the fact that Bianca is a destined vampire while Lucas is a Black Cross member, a cult sworn to slay vampires. When Lucas’s true identity is revealed, he is forced to flee the Evernight Academy.
However the star-struck lovers, Bianca and Lucas would stop at nothing to see each other and be together once again. Bianca sneaks out to meet up with Lucas no matter how dangerous their situation is. Keeping secrets and lies from both equally dangerous parties have their own grave consequences if one of Lucas’s and Bianca’s secrets is revealed to either party.
Soon, Bianca finds out that she isn’t the only keeping secrets in her family. When wraiths starts attacking the Evernight Academy and makes it clear that they are targeting her, Bianca learns the truth behind her existence.
My thoughts on this book:
The most adorably exhilarating modern day Romeo and Juliet tale I’ve ever read! This book was filled with so much suspense that I couldn’t stop reading it and when I was done, I wished I had the third book Hourglass!

Ratings: 5 Stars!

Book Title: Hourglass
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 339
Release date: March 2010
Source: Self Bought
Bianca elopes from the Evernight Academy for real this time. After the fire that ravaged the academy, Bianca and Lucas seeks refuge in the Black Cross Camp.
Being a vampire while living with vampire hunters is a treacherous position to be in especially when Bianca has to go through the tough training and boot-camp lifestyle of being a vampire hunter. Bianca has to discreetly satiate her hunger for blood.
But one day her secret was exposed when she was careless. A friend closest to her heart has betrayed her. Once again Lucas and Bianca are on the run.
This time, they have the Black Cross, the members of the Evernight Academy and Charity hunting them down. To make things worse, even the wraiths seems to want their fare share of Bianca.
Will Bianca and Lucas survive the battle or will the last resort to save their lives be ‘changing’ into a being neither of them ever dreamt of being?
My thoughts on the book:
It’s always good to have a wickedly awesome twist at the end of the story when the readers expect it the least. Suspense and action kept me hooked on this series.
Bianca is just an amazing strong girl with perseverance and faith as large as the Pacific Ocean. I believe girls would be able to look up to Bianca and make her a good example of a fighter we all should embody as a part of ourselves in order to survive in this harsh modern day reality.

Ratings : 5 Stars!

(*I do not receive any form of monetary payment for the book reviews/interviews/giveaways done on this blog. Book reviews/interviews/giveaways are done out of my own initiative and willingness as well as those of the corresponding parties involved. Books reviewed are provided out of the kindness and generosity of various sources. To those sources that make the reviews possible I wish to direct my heartiest thanks to.)

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