It would be nice
to stay in one place
long enough to make a best friend . . .
Astronomy-loving Calliope June has Tourette syndrome, so she sometimes makes faces or noises that she doesn’t mean to make. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But it isn’t long before the kids at her new school realize she’s different. Only Calli’s neighbor Jinsong, who is also the popular student body president, sees her as she truly is—an interesting person and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public? As Calli navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that they might be moving—again—just as she starts to make friends and finally accept her differences.Ellie is one of my oldest online writing friends. Long before either of us were published, we followed each other's blogs and critiqued each other's writing and generally cheered each other on. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to read and critique an earlier draft of what is now her soon-to-be-published novel. It was a beautiful manuscript and I fell completely in love with it, so I was thrilled, but not at all surprised, when she announced that the manuscript had sold!
Of course, I couldn't resist the opportunity to help her spread the word about her beautiful book. I hope you enjoy this interview and that it inspires you to read the book for yourselves. Be sure to read through to the end for information about the giveaway!
What was your inspiration for FORGET ME NOT?
It was really several things.
1.) A story from my mother's childhood
2.) Discovering my daughter had Tourette syndrome
3.) Something my neurologist said when he diagnosed ME with Tourette syndrome
Besides having Tourette Syndrome in common, what other ways are you and your main character, Calliope June, similar?
Hmmmm. We both hate moving to new towns and starting over... we both love the moon and outer space... and we both love Cheetos.
What are you hoping readers will take away from this story?
I hope they come away with a better understanding of what Tourette syndrome is.
I hope they have a renewed desire to see others in a positive light.
I hope they recognize and embrace what makes each of them different.
I can honestly say that all three of these were true for me when I read your manuscript way back when!
FORGET ME NOT is written in a combination of verse and prose, and from two different perspectives. Why did you choose to write it that way?
The first draft was actually a friendship story between Beatriz (the bully) and Calli (the mc). Jinsong was just a random boy next-door. But it wasn't long before he started bothering me to give him a POV as well. I really wanted readers to be able to feel all sides of the story. During Pitch Wars 2014, mentor Joy McCullough gently pointed out to me that Beatriz's story was overpowering Calli's, and I agreed, so I ended up dropping her POV and keeping Jinsong's.
As for the verse... I didn't purposely set out to write Calli's story in verse, it just came out that way. But I've been writing both rhyming and free verse poetry for a lot of years, so it felt very natural for me. Jinsong's POV was also originally written in verse, but his felt forced, so I changed it to prose. I really like the way it all turned out.
What was the most challenging part of writing FORGET ME NOT?
The most challenging part of writing FORGET ME NOT was also the easiest part of writing FORGET ME NOT. You see, the story itself flowed out of me pretty easily, easier than anything I had written, because writing about something so close and painful to my heart (Tourette's) was very therapeutic for me. BUT. Writing about Tourette's every day caused me to think about Tourette's every day, which made my Tourette symptoms worse every day. Even now, if I read a page that talks about Calli's tics... I tic. Some of them I don't mind, but the painful ones, like thrusting my jaw forward or swallowing air and forcing it back up, I could do without. Let's just say I'm glad I'm done revising this novel!
Share a little bit (or a lot) about this story's journey to publication.
I started drafting it in August 2013. In August 2014 I entered it into a contest called Pitch Wars and was chosen to be mentored by Joy McCullough. As I mentioned before, I cut out an entire POV during that revision. In 2015, I revised the last 1/4 of the novel in an R&R for my agent, Steven Chudney, before he signed me. We were lucky that the novel sold quickly (2.5 weeks) on sub to Liz Szabla at Feiwel & Friends. With the guidance of both of my editors: Liz Szabla and Anna Roberto, the novel became tighter and better focused. Now it is almost ready to enter the world!
What is your favorite verse novel?
Oh wow. Super hard question. It would be a toss up between LOVE THAT DOG and OUT OF THE DUST.
Those are two of my favorite verse novels too!
Any other books on the publishing horizon?
No new contracts yet, but I am currently working on two MG projects--both verse novels--and both boy main characters, so we'll see how that goes!
Good luck with your new projects. I look forward to hearing about your next sale!
FORGET ME NOT's release date is , also known as Pi Day. Will you be celebrating with pie?
Oh my goodness. YES! There is a lovely little pie shop twenty minutes from my house in a tiny town called Veyo, UT. They have quite possibly the best pies in the world. My kids will be out of school for spring break, so we are going to drive there to get some pie and celebrate the book birthday! And the day after is my daughter's birthday and then a few days later is the launch party. So basically the whole week will be one long celebration!
What perfect timing that your book will release during spring break (and on Pi Day) so that you can celebrate with your kids!
Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Read. Join a critique group. Read. Never give up. Read. Write lots of stories. Read. Take yourself seriously and those around will follow suit. Read. Don't be afraid to try new things. Also... read.
Great advice, Ellie! Thank you so much for sharing with us today.
Be sure to order Ellie's book here or at your favorite retailer!
Ellie Terry writes heartfelt contemporary fiction for middle-grade readers. Her middle-grade debut, a verse novel titled FORGET ME NOT, will be published by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. She lives in southern Utah with her husband, three kids, two zebra finches, and a Russian desert tortoise.
Would you like a chance to win some fun SWAG? Ellie is giving away a signed bookplate, bookmark, postcard and cute poppy headband to one reader. Click here for rules and to enter.