Archive for the ‘Talking with Other Authors’ Category

June 15th, 2016 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Talking with Other Authors

My friend (and great thinker, moving poet, inspirational character) Franklin Abbott shared this poem with me this week, and I share it with you in dark times.

Let’s all think seriously now about how we’ll Michaelangelo this world with a stronger arm and sharper chisel.

by Franklin Abbott


I am not only I

but a multiplicity of souls

I have always been here

I will always be back

I was your uncle, your 5th grade teacher, your cousin

I will be your grandson, your niece, the boy next door

you can erase my words

and a new Sappho, Rumi, Whitman, Stein, Lorca, Lorde

will emerge and write what I wrote

even more beautifully

you can shatter my statues

and a new Michaelangelo

with a sharper chisel and a stronger arm

will make grander statues

you can silence my singing

and a new Bessie Smith

will sound a bluer note

I have always been here

indivisible, essential

to the human spirit

firebird I am

feathered serpent

in every opposition

I am

the tender collapse

that always happens

before a song

rises up

to heaven

you see

I cannot die

you cannot

kill me

Don’t Let THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY Get Away From You

June 5th, 2015 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Talking with Other Authors

I don’t believe much in labeling books by season, like saying something’s a perfect “summer read,” since even in the midst of summer you might still want something dense, dark, and gloomy. But if you want a book that puts you in the same mood as when you’re lying in the sun (either on a beach or at the pool) with nothing to do but relax with a cool drink nearby, just the perfect amount of breeze going, and the knowledge that someone you love is going to grill you a delicious dinner in a few hours, and then do romantic things to you (maybe after a relaxing bath), then you have GOT TO pick up The One That Got Away, by Bethany Chase.

And I’m not just telling you that because she’s my friend. To be honest, when I started The One That Got Away, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I don’t read romances very often, because rarely in their sweepingness do they manage to be realistic enough for me. Usually I find myself doing a lot of eye rolls. I didn’t want to do that to my friend’s book, and I was a little hesitant.

Until I got three pages in.
And then, when I finished, and felt that astonished, blissed-out feeling you get when you know you have read something that pulls off every single thing it needs to in an absolutely perfect way.

I still wonder how she did it, really.  So lucky for me, Bethany was willing to talk a little more about the magic that went into her first novel.

TEM:    The thing I love most about The One That Got Away is that it is so deliciously what we all want out of this kind of romance, but it also has so many deep, thoughtful, original surprises inside.  What did you do, as a writer, to tow this line between making things unique and also satisfying the reader’s expectations?

BC:  Thank you! Honestly, this book is an example of that old chestnut “write what you want to read.” I love love stories, and I’ve read a ton of them, but I find it’s pretty common for them not to feel earned and real. One of the most gratifying comments I’ve ever had from a reader was that my book made her feel not like she’d just eaten not a bowl of candy corn but a chocolate eclair made from scratch: sweet, but substantial, satisfying, and worth her time and attention. And I think that comes in part from grounding Sarina’s relationships deeply within the context of everything else that’s going on in her life.

TEM:  Let’s talk about Eamon and Noah. Both so sexy. And also so complex. What work did you do to make sure they remained so?

BC:  I wanted them both to feel like fully fleshed out people, with their own distinct flaws and good points, so that it comes down not to which guy is obviously a better person but which one is the better partner for Sarina. Eamon was especially challenging because I’d made him hot and funny and smart and thoughtful and kind; so I had to make sure I showed that he’s also demanding, impatient, stubborn, and pathologically competitive. Deceptively easygoing but actually a pretty substantial pain in the ass if he doesn’t get what he wants. And Noah had to be really worth all the love Sarina felt for him, and all the conflict she feels about whether or not he’s right for her.

TEM:  Loss is a big part of The One That Got Away. Can you just . . . talk about that? And why it’s important to this story?

BC:  Well, this part is largely autobiographical. It’s something I’ve lived with for a long time, so I’ve felt both the immediacy of loss and also its long aftermath. I can say as someone who lost a parent young, it irrevocably shapes the way you make decisions. You’re never out of the shadow of that reminder of how quickly and prematurely things can end, so, for me at least, that has meant a lot of deliberate choices to mold my life into something that brings me joy. So that’s tied to this journey Sarina goes through, of coming to terms with what she truly wants instead of what seems to make the most sense.

TEM:  Architecture (both the beauty and the skill of it) also play a big role in this book.  What is your relationship to this craft, and why was it an important element here?

BC:  So, one of those “deliberate choices” I mentioned above includes going back to school to get my interior design degree. A lot of my friends from college were doing sensible things like law school, and I decided I needed an advanced degree in a field that pays one hell of a lot less than law. (Making life decisions on the assumption you might die young can lead you to emphasize “fun/creative” over “financially rewarding.”) But I really do love this industry. I deeply enjoy working with beautiful things, and people who make them. So, making Sarina an architect relates to my love of architecture, craft and construction (renovation, specifically; her line early in the book about how a reno is more rewarding than a new build is exactly how I feel), and I thought it would be an interesting glimpse into that world for people who may not get to experience it.

TEM:  You are a person with an enviable aesthetic. How did your sense of what is pretty and pleasing come into play with The One That Got Away? (Or, more simply: How do visuals inform your writing?)

BC:  I see my characters, their homes, and the scenes that occur very clearly in my mind’s eye. Every scene is grounded in setting. I have a huge set of Pinterest boards that have helped me develop visual references for this and my future books: And I can’t seem to get away from it; my future book ideas all relate to art or design in some way.

TEM:    You live in Brooklyn, but this mostly takes place in Texas. Can you talk about the role of place in your work, and why THIS place was so important for this particular novel?

BC:   I had originally set the book in L.A., for reasons that now escape me, but while I was writing it, I’d become friends with a few women who lived in Austin. I went out to visit them and fell in love. The city is so vibrant and so proud of its creativity. And the link with the Longhorns swim team (they really do produce a big chunk of the men’s national team) was perfect.

TEM:   Sarina’s friendship with Danny is such a nice, honest relationship in the story. Where did this come from?

BC:   I’ve just always believed that the best friendships are the ones where your friends support you, but will also tell you if you’re being a dumbass.

TEM:  On a technical level, there are many different plot strings in this book. What work did you do to make sure they were all thrumming as they should?

BC:  I just tried to make sure they all related to each other and were intertwined, so that each one reflected and influenced the others. We’re all products of our sum of experiences, and book characters are no exception!

TEM:  You and I have talked about competition a lot, and how it influences us and motivates us in ways we don’t even know. What role does competition play in The One That Got Away?

BC:   As a writer I’m fascinated by competitive personalities–probably because it’s a character trait that has both positive and negative effects on people who have it, as well as on the people in their lives. I’m very competitive myself, and it’s a never-ending challenge to channel it productively instead of letting it draw me into something negative. In the book, Sarina starts to suspect that part of the reason Eamon is so interested in her is that her having a boyfriend triggers that “I have to win” aspect of his personality, and there is a little bit of truth to that. But at the same time, his advice to be persistent with her professional goals encourages her to push herself and keep trying for them.

TEM:  Anything you can reveal about what’s coming next from Bethany Chase, now that we all know how good you are?

BC:   Aw, thank you. My next book is scheduled to release in late summer of next year, and I have another one in the hopper as well!


Thank YOU, Bethany, and those of you who checked this interview out. If you like what you read here, you can learn more about The One That Got Away on Bethany’s blog, and I encourage you to read her fantastic article about Home that appeared in the Huffington Post in March.

NYCTAF Here I Come!

March 2nd, 2015 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Appearances, Talking with Other Authors

The New York City Teen Author Festival is one of my favorite festivals each year, but THIS year I am extra-excited to attend for two reasons 1) I didn’t get to go last year and 2)  Not only am I appearing on a great panel with a ton of other incredible authors, but I’m moderating one too. The programming for the 2015 festival feels even more exceptional than usual, so be sure to check out the entire lineup (including authors like Libba Bray, TM Goeglin, Elizabeth Eulberg, David Levithan, Marie Rutkoski, Susane Colasanti, and Corey Ann Haydu). Honestly, I think you should attend as many sessions as you can during the week–though here’s specifically where and when I’ll be speaking:

Thursday, March 19 (WORD bookstore, 126 Franklin St, Brooklyn, 7pm)
The Perils of Perfection

Explanation: Teen girls are under more pressure than ever to succeed – in relationships, in school, in the social hierarchy and friendships. Each of these novelists has written about girls under such pressures – and here they’ll read a little from their latest work, and then discuss the pressures on their characters – as well as the pressures of writing about them.

Kate Axelrod
Susane Colasanti
Corey Ann Haydu
Melissa Kantor
Terra Elan McVoy
Alecia Whitaker

moderator: Amanda Maciel


Saturday March 21, Symposium (42nd Street NYPL, Bartos Forum, 5th Ave at 42nd St, 1-5pm)
4:10-5:00 – Creating Strong Characters

Explanation: We often talk about “strong” characters – but what does that mean? Don’t characters also have to be vulnerable for readers to connect to them? And why is there so often talk of “strong female characters” but not “strong male characters” – what’s left assumed there, and how can we counterbalance that? Each of these authors has created complex protagonists grappling with issues of strength. We’ll discuss how they created these characters, and what balances needed to be achieved.

Sarah Beth Durst
TM Goeglein
Elizabeth Kiem
Kieran Scott
Jessica Spotswood
Robin Talley
Sandra Waugh

Moderator:  Terra Elan McVoy


Sunday March 22: Our No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder
(Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th St, 1-4pm):

Claire Legrand, Winterspell
David Levithan, Hold Me Closer
Sarah Darer Littman, Backlash
Elisa Ludwig, Pretty Wanted
Barry Lyga, Blood of my Blood
Amanda Maciel, Tease
Terra Elan McVoy, In Deep
L Melnick & B Lauer, Please Excuse this Poem
Kass Morgan, Homecoming


Hope to see you there!