For all those who have been asking what’s coming from me post-Gladys, I finally have an answer for you!
In today’s Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf:
Here’s a bit more of the story behind this book.
In January of 2013, my mother was very ill–on a breathing machine in a hospital bed, fighting for her life. I flew to New York to be with my dad and sister, sleeping on a mattress on the floor at my parents’ house for two weeks when I wasn’t at the hospital.
One morning, I woke up on that mattress clinging to the remnants of a vivid dream: Two children in a tiny boat in choppy, frigid waters, trying to sail for help because something was very wrong at home. All of the adults in their little town had mysteriously fallen asleep, and no one could wake them up.
Looking back now, the connection between this dream and my family’s situation at the time seems so obvious–but I didn’t see it then. I just thought “Well, that’s a decent story idea.” And I put it in my back pocket.
Miraculously, over the course of many months, Mom made an amazing recovery. I returned home and resumed my work on the All Four Stars series, though between contracts I started to play around more with my parents-falling-asleep book idea. My dream had also gifted me with the perfect setting, inspired by a remote town in northern Iceland that I had visited the year before. And I had a handful of characters who were starting to feel real to me.
Teasing out the story’s plot strands was harder. I’m a serious plotter–I love suspense and mystery and surprise–but the twists this story seemed to want to take scared me a little. It was a much bigger, much more complicated plot than I had ever attempted before (science and politics and myths and sheep farming!). When I finally drew up the courage to pitch it to my husband, he gave me the full-on “are you crazy?” stare.
I pressed on, though. I outlined. I tackled the dread synopsis. I finally finished an appallingly bad first draft in February of 2015–literally the day before I got the green light to write Stars So Sweet, the third book in the All Four Stars series. So into the drawer my draft went for several more months.
I finally got back to this book in the fall, writing a new draft nearly from scratch. Stars So Sweet was pretty much done at that point, but I had a new deadline: the due date of my first child, who was coming at the end of the year. The story took shape as my belly grew. I made it through two more drafts with the help of an intrepid team of beta-readers. I tamed that roaring bear of a plot (this is not a random metaphor–an unruly bear actually plays an important role in the story 🙂 ) and finally sent the book in to my agent, who had been excited about it ever since I’d mentioned my idea to her at our retreat in 2013.
Two days later, my baby was born.
And now, to my absolute delight, the wacky, challenging book I wasn’t sure I could pull off has found an editor who loves its quirkiness and wants to bring it to readers everywhere!
We can’t wait to share it with you all.
Congratulations on the new arrival to your family and best wishes. And also congrats on that book deal too, Great Hibernation of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord 🙂
I am so incredibly happy for you, Tara, and thrilled for this story to get out in the world! Hooray for St. Polonius!
Thank you for everything, Jenn!
This book sounds truly AMAZING! Can’t wait to read it!
The “traditional tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver goes horribly awry”?! Only you could write this book, and I cannot wait to read it. It sounds FANTASTIC! Congratulations, Tara!!!
Hooray, Tara! I’m so, so excited about this wonderful news, and the book sounds INCREDIBLE! I can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!!
Congrats!! And fun description in the PW, totally makes you want to read it. =)
Congratulations, Tara! And I love hearing the story of how this book came about. Looking forward to reading this!
Loved hearing how this story came to be!! I’m so happy for you, Tara! Congrats!
Enjoyed your backstory and love your sense of humor.
Cannot wait for this book!