Welcome to March, where the debuts are plentiful and the books are awesome!
by Clare O'Connor
Eleven-year-old Sibby Henry liked her old life. Now she's living in a new town with her nan and pops. On her first day of school she sees a dope skateboard park, but she's lost her precious board. To make things worse, Freddie, a super skater and a super jerk, dominates the park. Sibby tries to stay chill, but when Freddie gets in the face of her only new friend, Charlie Parker Drysdale, things get too hot for chill. Never one to back down, Sibby accepts when Freddie challenges her to a competition on the half pipe. She won't let anything stop her from proving herself.
March 18th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
Thanks so much for letting me be part of your author interview series, Sofiya. I’m really grateful to be here.
Hi everyone, I’m Clare O’Connor. My debut novel is Skatebord Sibby, due out March 18th. Skateboarding is the basis for lots of action in the book. However, the story is about dealing with change. Eleven-year-old Sibby is struggling with her changes, mostly because she’s walking through her new life while still holding on to the past, as if its return is an option.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
I knew there would be lots to learn in the lead up to the book’s release. However, I underestimated exactly how much. The support from the community of writers I’ve been fortunate to connect with has been such a help though. Experiencing that support and feeling so grateful to be part of this wonderful community has been energizing.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
No hesitation on this. It’s Sofiya Pasternack! I am on the list to receive an advanced copy of your book, Anya and the Dragon. I’ve heard wonderful things and can’t wait to read it. But you are my shout out because you have offered your time, your experience, made templates to help those of us debuting in 2019 organize ourselves, and now an interview on your blog! Your generosity and encouragement are really amazing. Thank you.
I’d also like to mention Shauna Holyoak who wrote Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers. It’s a great book and, like you Sofiya, Shauna is really generous with her support. I wish you both lived closer to me.
What's a cool thing about your book that isn't in the blurb?
Love this question. I would say it’s the big divide between how Sibby approaches skateboarding and how she deals with the changes in her life. She’s absolutely fierce on her board and unafraid to take chances. Yet, the uncertainty caused by the changes she’s dealing with really throws her. I think Sibby learning to narrow this divide and be more confident in herself, whether on her board or off, is a cool part of the book.
What inspired you to write this book?
Oh wow. Lots of things. My mom hasn’t been well for a number of years, which has resulted in lots of changes. One is that we can’t really talk like we once did, which is tough because I miss her incredible insight. Like Sibby, I initially dealt with it by resisting reality, as if a return to the past was an option. Dealing with this made me want to explore change through a character who is so fierce in one aspect of her life and so afraid in another. The book was also inspired by the experience of riding my skateboard at school when I was 11. A boy in my class told me I couldn’t skate because I was a girl and he challenged me to prove him wrong. I did but couldn’t believe he would assume my gender made me less capable. We ended up becoming friends and I learned that life wasn’t easy for him. The fact that he had been labelled a bully didn’t help his situation. The bully label and the gender-limiting assumption made me want to contribute a story that tackled both.
Describe your writing space.
I have an office in the upstairs of my house. There is a credenza behind my desk with a cozy bed on top where my cat, Chance, sleeps. His snoring gets a little loud, but, overall, he’s very encouraging of my creative efforts!
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I keep telling myself to use an outline, but it just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I get an idea and start to explore it by walking or swimming or doing some form of activity that allows me to totally get lost in it all. I jot down everything that comes into my mind, even if it comes in the middle of the night. Once I identify the character and get the voice, I feel like things start to come together…until they don’t and I start wishing I had an outline. :)
What book or author has most influenced your own writing?
When I was a kid, I devoured The Great Brian series of books. The antics of the kids always kept me turning pages, but I also loved the way the author gave such strong identities to the characters. I wouldn’t say the books influenced how or what I write. It’s more that they made me want to write and to think I could.
Link us to your favorite song!
I really like the song Good Old Days by Macklemore. I’ve heard some say it’s about reminiscing. That’s not what I get from it. I interpret it more as a reminder that life in is the now. And I’m grateful for my now.
Show us your favorite animal!
Here is my cat Chance in his bed behind my desk. You see how he is listening to my latest story idea? I mean he’s totally into it. Hanging. On. Every. Word.
Thanks for the shoutout, Clare!!
Make sure you go check out Clare's cute book on 3/18/19!