Hi everyone! I’m participating in Sunday Street Team. This one will be an interview with Emily France whose book comes out in only two days! It’s exciting so I’m glad to do this so close to the book release.
If you want some more information on Signs of You:
Title: Signs of You
Author: Emily France
Published: July 19, 2016 (Soho Teen)
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Magical Realism
Themes: Grief, Afterlife
Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.
When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.
When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.
Do you think being in law school and being editor-in-chief of the law review has affected how you write Young Adult fiction?
Yes! I’ve always been a writer, but the challenges of law school and of being the editor in chief of the law review improved my skills in countless ways. One of the greatest gifts to come out of those experiences was discipline. In order to write a legal brief or a law review article, you often have to read hundreds of pages of case law and distill those into your own written argument. Do that enough times and you can’t help but become a better writer! I’m convinced that without the training I received in law school, it might have taken me another decade to finish this book. I’m really grateful I went. (Aw, I love reading about this! I can see how that would make you a better writer, it requires you to be thorough as well and most likely able to catch any plot problems.)
What is a secret fact about one of the characters that readers wouldn’t know?
Seriously, I typed a bunch of answers here and kept deleting them. I feel like I’m betraying my characters to tell their secrets! I really fell in love with these four. They are like family to me. (You could have told ALL of the secrets. 😉 I respect that you didn’t though, loyal to characters, I like that)
Why did you decide to include a support group in Signs of You?
I’ve seen the power of groups in my own life many times. Whether it’s an actual support group or just an extremely close group of friends, I’ve learned that reaching out, asking for help, and connecting with others are the greatest superpowers I have. So I knew my characters’ stories would be more powerful if they were in it together. Plus, one of the side benefits of finding others who can relate to a bit of your path is humor. Lightness in the face grief is one of the gifts that come when you find people who share it. And when Riley, Jay, Kate, and Noah got together, I loved the humor they found even in the depths of loss and struggle. (I just love this answer, there is a lot of power in groups.)
What character do you relate to most out of Riley, Jay, Kate and Noah?
I adore each one of them, but I relate most to Riley. I hope that, like her, I always keep seeking, keep listening, and keep my eyes fixed on the skies. (I love that last part)
What was the hardest and easiest part about writing Signs of You?
The hardest part was reliving several emotional scenes hundreds of times in the editing process. There are a few parts of this story that made me cry every single time I worked with them. Every single time! My heart and soul are in this story, so I had to feel all the feelings over and over again. At times, it was exhausting.
The easiest part was not giving up! Once the idea for this story arrived in my life, it wasn’t an option to quit. If I stayed away from it for just a few days, I would become really miserable. SIGNS OF YOU was my steadfast companion for seven wonderful years. No matter where I was, it was by my side, consuming my imagination and keeping me entertained. Finishing it was bittersweet. It felt like my best friend had gotten into a college far, far away. And of course, you want her to go because it will be awesome. But still, you’ll miss her deep down in your bones every single day. (I can imagine the emotional scenes would be so hard, especially when you have to read through them so many times throughout the editing process and everything. I love reading how much the story became a part of you! It makes writing sound even more important/good in that it’s there gnawing at you.)
If you were to choose a theme song for Signs of You or for any character, what song would you choose?
It would have to be “Dearly Departed” by Shakey Graves. Even though the song is about a romantic relationship, I think it still captures so much of the book. It touches on the feeling of being haunted, of feeling like a ghost yourself, of being lonely, of aching for the past. But it’s not particularly slow or maudlin. It has this upbeat feel and sound, just like Riley’s spirit. (I haven’t heard this song (yet), but I love your description of it! I need to listen soon.)
Did you do any research when writing Signs of You?
Oh, the research! It was one of the most wonderful parts of writing this novel. Early in the process, I happened upon a bit of history about a missing religious manuscript, and it captured my imagination. I dove into the writings of this 16th century mystic who founded the Jesuit order, and his writings fit some of my ideas about my story beautifully and at times, eerily. So my characters are on a quest to uncover the truth about this bit of history, as well as a quest to find answers in their own lives. Putting those two stories together was a thrilling adventure. (Oh wow, this is so fascinating! I love how you combined this mystic’s writings with the story, it sounds so historical and really meaningful)
What is your favorite part about being a debut author?
Peace! Until the moment SIGNS OF YOU went to the printer, I was unsettled. It’s like I couldn’t rest until I knew I had done my very best with every word and every moment of this story. Once it was really done, I felt this sense of peace in my heart that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Finishing this novel was one of my most treasured goals in life. (Peace sounds like it’s an excellent favorite part. I can’t imagine how hard it all is to make sure everything is the best it can be. :))
Thanks for having me.
It was definitely no problem having you on my blog! Thank you!
Wow, I am even more excited to read Signs of You. I love the talk about the founder of the Jesuit order, I’ll have to look more into that.
So, what did everyone else think? 🙂