Last week in my Top 10 Tuesday post, I mentioned my 5-star reads of the year so far so I’m super thrilled to have Carrie Arcos on the blog today to chat about one of those 5-star reads (and a few other things, as well). THERE WILL COME A TIME hit bookshelves in April; it’s the story from the perspective of a teenager boy dealing with the tragic death of his twin sister. What struck me the most about this book was the balance. As much as we want to grieve when bad things happen, life continues outside our door, in our school, across the street and you just have to find a way to keep moving. I thought this was one of the truest depictions of all those complicated emotions.
Our chat covers writing a male narrator, diversity in young adult lit, pre-release jitters, and more. Sit back + enjoy!
Psst… Carrie was kind enough to offer up TWO signed copies of her book so you’ll find that giveaway at the end.
Carrie, I am so thrilled to chat with you on Rather Be Reading! There Comes a Time was an emotional read for me – I cried many times on the subway during my commute – but what I loved most was that even though the story was about Mark’s grief over losing his twin sister, present life was always knocking on his door. He couldn’t ignore it. What helped you to tap into Mark’s feelings about Grace?
Thank you so much for having me! And I’m glad you enjoyed Mark’s journey. I cried several times while writing certain scenes.
It’s funny because we think that we’re just pulling things out of the air sometimes when we write. We really have no idea how much our subconscious plays into it. I think my having lost a good friend to suicide a few months before I began Mark’s story for sure played a part in me having grief be a theme in the novel. At the time I didn’t realize that, but looking back I know it did.
I’m also really interested in sibling relationships. This could be because of my own experience of having brothers or maybe it’s because of my own children, I’m not sure.
For the twin dynamic, I did research and reflected on what it would be like to lose a twin. Many twins share an uncanny closeness, so I just tried to put myself in Mark’s shoes and walk a little ways with him.
The #DiversityinYA campaign has taken the internet by storm in the past couple of weeks, and I couldn’t help but think about Mark. On one hand, I think it’s great that I discovered Mark’s ethnicity once I picked up the book because his story is not defined by him being Filipino. But on the other, I wanted to shout from the rooftops CARRIE ARCOS IS FLYING UNDER THE RADAR WITH A POC MAIN CHARACTER! It’s awkward because you don’t want to exactly point it out because your book is so much more but I do think you deserve props. What was your reaction to the campaign?
I was totally behind it. I loved it. I should say, I love it, because it is still going. The site Diversity in YA had me do a guest post right before the campaign began, so I was thankful for that. But yeah, I do feel the book is flying a little under the radar at the moment.
The issue of lack of diversity is really thread through all aspects of storytelling in the US. Look at film and TV, adult books, it’s all about the same. It’s systematic and it’ll only change when values change.
I want to write stories that reflect the world I live in, the world my children live in.
I really loved your blog post about release day jitters. I think a lot of readers are under the impression that once you are published by a mega-publisher, you are super confident about your work and the reactions your readers will have to it. But, shock of all shocks, authors are humans too! (I feel like this is an US Weekly segment.) Was there any time during the writing process for There Will Come a Time that you felt frustrated and didn’t think things were working?
It’s funny because most of the time writing is such a solitary thing. You’re at a desk or sitting in a library or a coffee shop. You’re alone. But suddenly when the book is out, you’re also this public persona who needs to be a good public speaker, witty, charming, etc… But it’s all good. I get so nervous, but as soon as I’m in front of the mic, I’m on.
It took a while in the beginning stages of There Will Come a Time to figure out what the book was really about and who Mark was. I had a loose idea, but I couldn’t get it. Once I connected him to loss and a family member, it just clicked. I wrote the paragraph that comes at the end of ch 1 about grief and knew I had his voice.
What’s one thing you would like readers to get out of There Will Come a Time?
Just one? Hmm… Most of the time the only way to get through the horribly difficult times in life is through.
Like Grace, do you create little lists of things you want to accomplish? What’s one thing you want to make sure you do before the year is over?
Yes. I’m a total list girl. I don’t always write them down, but I have a mental list of things I want to accomplish each day.
Before the year is over, I’d like to sell my third book.This isn’t totally in my control, so we’ll see what happens.
I want to attend the school in your book. All the arts, all the time and I loved the big project that the characters were working on together. Mark has such a passion for music, and it helps him wade through the harder times. Do you have a similar release?
I so wanted to attend an arts high school too. I admit I was kind of like Jenny, Mark’s step mom, when she romanticizes what the experience must be like. After talking to kids who go to arts schools, it’s not completely like that. But what is there is the passion for sure.
Music is one of my passions. I’ve sung off and on, and that has been helpful. I’d also say writing and reading are other ways I feel my way through the difficult times.
You were recently on a panel called “Young Adult Fiction: Outside Looking In” at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Was there a particular discussion during the panel that has stuck with you?
One of my friends came to the panel and afterwards was like, “I had no idea writing YA could be so much like therapy.” Ha! Our panel was a little on the heavy side. It was so great to be a part of such a great festival and meeting the other authors. I particularly enjoyed meeting Deb Caletti because she has a career that I aspire to.
Mark definitely seemed like a guy I would have been friends with in high school. Did you enjoy shifting to the male POV for this book? Who are some memorable male narrators in your reading life?
I loved writing Mark. At first I wondered if I could do it, get inside a male 17 yr old, but you know, teen guys are human like anyone else. And I’d also like to say they are all different. I really hate how the male teen gets stereotyped into a horny, sex crazed adolescent. I mean, sure I knew guys like that in HS, but not every guy is like that. And many guys are very sensitive and have a deep emotional core. They just may not be as verbal about it as girls.
Some memorable male narrators?
Arnold Spirit from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Holden Caulfield in A Catcher in the Rye, and Christopher in The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time.
Congrats on your writers residency opportunity in June! Do you already have something you are working on or are you going to start fresh? What are the benefits to locking yourself away with other writers? (Please take some pictures!)
Thank you so much. I’m incredibly excited to go to Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island. When I applied, I had to explain what I’d be working on, but that was a year ago. So…I’m deviating a little from the plan. I’m not completely sure what I’m working on yet. I have some ideas. Maybe I’ll work on a couple.
I’ve never taken this much time away by myself to work on my writing. Usually I’m juggling my other responsibilities as mom, wife, teacher, etc… So I am excited to see where it takes me as I confront my self.
I will for sure take pictures. But I won’t post them until after. I don’t even think they have internet!
So what’s next? New book? New appearances? Perhaps a trip to NYC? (Hint, hint!)
I wish I could come to NYC. I’m a native New Yorker, born in Albany. I have another YA contemporary that I don’t want to say too much about except that I hope I’ll be able to share this story with readers one day.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Carrie!
Don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of THERE WILL COME A TIME.
Giveaway open to U.S. residents/must be 13 years old our up to center.