Hi guys! This past week has been crazy for me! I’ve been gone out of town for the All State Men’s Choir (which was super amazing by the way!) and catching up on a ton of homework… As I write this, I still got a 16-slide powerpoint, a one-page article reflection, and an essay on the US and USSR involvement in Latin America in the Cold War. But by the time this is posted I’m probably done with all that. I haven’t been able to blog that much recently, but I’m back! I’m not going to post as frequently as I was before because I am going to focus on many other things and activities, but I’ll still be active!
Also, Happy Easter!!! I did not post anything this weekend to honor the Triduum and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the start of the Easter season, so here’s my latest post!
1. How would you describe Sad Perfect in your own words?
A girl with a unique eating disorder falls in love and tries to hide her disorder from her boyfriend while trying to recover.
2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I love writing because when you write you get to create anything you want to. You can go anywhere you want to, you can dream up anything you want to. I think I loved reading first and then I loved writing.
3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?
I don’t know if my writing style has been affected by any particular writer but I admire so many writers. I love writers who can write in verse, or who can make a sentence sing off the page. Someone who makes colors look completely different than you ever imagined just by their word choice. Writers who do that are magical.
4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?
I love reading contemporary novels—young adult and women’s fiction. Psychological thrillers are fun too. Emotional reads that can get your heart racing and your mind thinking are what I gravitate toward.
5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
Writing is very part-time and I would love to write more. I’m a mom to three teenagers, and I love that job too—it’s my most important one.
6. What is ARFID, and what is the message or impact you want your readers to get through your book?
I want readers to know that ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) EXISTS. Many parents think that kids are just picky eaters and don’t do anything to help their children with this serious eating disorder, which is the actual fear of trying new foods. It’s a mental disorder that can also cause severe anxiety and depression and lead to more serious issues if not treated. I also want readers to know that there is hope for kids with ARFID, that if someone has ARFID, and if he or she wants to get better, if they work at it, they can get better.
7. Sad Perfect was inspired by your own daughter’s experiences, and thankfully she recovered from it! How much of the book was based off your family’s experiences, and how much research did you have to put into your novel?
My daughter had ARFID for 15 years. We lived it. There was nothing to research because it was all experienced first-hand. All of the ARFID parts in the novel are true in terms of what she went through, how she was feeling, what she experienced in therapy, how other family members felt. It was as honest as I could write it. Some parts are fiction, because it’s a novel, and not all of what happened to Pea happened to my daughter, but I stayed true to what ARFID is all about.
8. Your book is the first fiction book I have seen that is written in the second person. Why did you choose to do this, and what effect does it have on the reader?
I didn’t choose to write Sad Perfect in second person. It started out as a vignette about my daughter meeting a guy on the river so I wasn’t even writing a book at first; I was just writing about my daughter, so I started it out as “You.” Then when I realized I was writing a book, I couldn’t change the “You” to “I” like in a book because that didn’t sound right. I just kept writing it as “You” and I guess it worked?
9. You have both written books that have been traditionally published and self-published. Which one do you prefer, and what are some things you like about each one?
I tried to get my self-published books traditionally published and a couple of them came really close. Then when it wasn’t happening, I self-published The Cell Phone Lot, which is a 60-page novella about a guy and a girl meeting at the airport cell-phone lot. I did this just to see if I could do it. It was a good experience but I prefer traditional publishing even though it takes a looonnng time for a book to come out. To make any money in self-publishing, you have to be a guru in marketing or be really famous, and I’m neither of those.
11. How did you decide to title your book Sad Perfect?
I need a stock answer for this because everyone asks this question which I love! I had the title before I knew I was ever going to write a book. My daughter was in her 20-week outpatient therapy program and it was family night. Parents were asked to draw a picture of how we saw our child. I drew McKaelen with a bright red X over her mouth because she didn’t eat. I drew a blindfold over her eyes because she didn’t see how pretty or good she was. And then I wrote two words above it: Sad Perfect. That’s how I saw her. About a month later I started writing what would become the book and it instantly came to me that the title would be Sad Perfect.
11. Could you describe your feelings when you found out that your daughter McKaelen was “cured” of ARFID? How has your lives been after her recovery?
The day I felt that she was really ‘cured’ was a time we were having a meal and she ordered something that she would have never in her life eaten. I watched her eat this meal and she was enjoying it and I started crying. I told her, “Watching you eat this is better than watching you take your first steps as a baby.” I will never forget that moment we shared. Things are so much better since her recovery. Before, the food part wasn’t even the big source of the problem. The big underlying issues of ARFID are the extreme anxiety and depression that comes along with it – and panic attacks and the inability to socialize with others – there are so many other issues that makes having ARFID such a horrible thing for the person, not just that they can’t eat. It affects every aspect of their lives to such a degree. So when McKaelen got better, not only did her eating get better, her whole life got better.
12. What are some of your favorite non-book-or-writing-related hobbies or activities you like to do?
I need to have some more hobbies but I love to do stuff with my daughter as we’re really close, go out to breakfast with friends, and I do yoga when I can. And this is a problem hobby but I love to nap!
13. Do you have a favorite soundtrack or playlist that you listen to while you write?
Not a favorite soundtrack but I do find that I need music when I’m working on a manuscript. So I’ll find a good Pandora station and write to whatever I’m feeling.
14. What is your personal cure for writer’s block?
Give yourself time if you’re not in that writing mode. Because even thinking about writing is the act of writing. I don’t go by the ‘write every day’ mantra. That doesn’t work for me but I know it works for many. For me, ideas need to percolate. So if that’s you, and you have writer’s block, that’s okay. Spend time thinking about ideas, finding them, looking around, gathering information for your story. It’s okay. You’re not blocked, you’re just getting perspective for your work.
15. Have you written any other works? What can we expect more from you in the future?
I’m working on another young adult right now.
I have three books self-published on Amazon:
16. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?
Just don’t give up. If you want to be a writer badly enough, keep writing. Even if you just write down the words in your head, a stream of consciousness that means nothing to anyone but yourself, write it down. You don’t have to show that to anyone. Eventually something meaningful will come out and it will all be clear and you’ll have something. Don’t quit because then you’ll always wonder, “What if I had just written that thing I wanted to write?”
Thank you so much, Stephanie, for letting me interview you! It was fun to read your answers!
Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Winter, 2017), which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels.
A Florida native, Stephanie has lived near Chicago and Philadelphia and currently calls Scottsdale, Arizona home. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Stephanie and her husband Scott have three children: AJ, McKaelen and Luke. They are all her favorites.
Here’s the giveaway! It’s the same rules, but I added another one!
If your Twitter is a giveaway account, I am automatically disqualifying you. These giveaways are meant for readers who actually want and will read the book, not for people who just want to win something or will later resell this.
Anyway… here it is!
I hope you have a wonderful week! And I’m going to end each non-review related post with a book quote! Here’s today’s!
“The only one who can take away who you are is you. You decide who you are. No one else.” – Jennifer M. Eaton, Embers in the Sea