Check This Out: Believe

Because of an episode of Call the Midwife, the song, “Catch a Falling Star,” is going through my mind. And if you know the song, you probably have it in yours now. Anyhoo, with me on the blog today is a rising star to catch—the energized and engaging Sarah Aronson. (And yes, I know Sarah from VCFA.) Sarah is represented by Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency.

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Sarah is here to talk about her latest book, Believe, which is available right now, thanks to the good folks at Carolrhoda Lab. She also is the author of Beyond Lucky and Head Case.

believeHere is the synopsis of Believe:

When Janine Collins was six years old, she was the only survivor of a suicide bombing that killed her parents and dozens of others. Media coverage instantly turned her into a symbol of hope, peace, faith–of whatever anyone wanted her to be. Now, on the ten-year anniversary of the bombing, reporters are camped outside her house, eager to revisit the story of the “Soul Survivor.”

Janine doesn’t want the fame–or the pressure–of being a walking miracle. But the news cycle isn’t the only thing standing between her and a normal life. Everyone wants something from her, expects something of her. Even her closest friends are urging her to use her name-recognition for a “worthy cause.” But that’s nothing compared to the hopes of Dave Armstrong–the man who, a decade ago, pulled Janine from the rubble. Now he’s a religious leader whose followers believe Janine has healing powers.

The scariest part? They might be right.

If she’s the Soul Survivor, what does she owe the people who believe in her? If she’s not the Soul Survivor, who is she?

What a ride, huh? I’m giving away a $20 Amazon card this time with the stipulation that you must purchase Believe. More on that later.

El Space: Hey, Sarah! Congrats on the release of Believe. Please share four quick facts about yourself.
Sarah: I never read manuals. I once won a state sanctioned power lifting contest. I could deadlift 320 pounds. When I’m drafting, I also cook a lot. I delete all my first drafts. My mottos are “Try everything,” and “They’re only words. Re-imagine!” I met my husband when, thinking he was someone else, I kissed him. About the time when my lips hit his cheek, I realized I had no idea who he was!

El Space: Wow. Cool facts! I would never try to arm wrestle you! What inspired you to write Believe?
Sarah: Faith, fame, and family are themes I write and think about a lot. These themes, in some way, are important to all my stories.

camera_09I started thinking about Janine’s story when I was at the salon, reading People! There was a story about the woman who was once known as Baby Jessica. She was the baby who fell into the well. I was surprised to find out that one of the men who saved her had killed himself—he couldn’t deal with his life after his fifteen minutes of fame was over. I was also surprised how judgmental I felt about her adult life. This was a person who never asked to be famous. She didn’t seem to want it either. I decided to explore the nature of celebrity in our world today. I knew right away that I was taking a big risk making Janine a figure in the faith community. But I also knew that faith was something that would present itself no matter what I did. The more I wrote, the more I understood Janine’s skepticism and doubts and her selfishness. She lost her parents! She would naturally wrestle with the nature of faith.

El Space: What was most exhilarating or challenging about writing Believe?
Sarah: The voice. The challenge of creating a character who was not all that likeable, but still interesting, who grew up a celebrity, was a lot of fun.

El Space: What strength does your main character have in common with you?
Sarah: She’s determined. She loves her family. She’s impulsive and skeptical and can be pretty impatient. She wants to be admired for who she is, not what people want her to be.

3188580El Space: What authors/books inspire you?
Sarah: There are so many! I love books that take chances, that explore a darker side of life. When I first decided to write and was finding my own voice, these were the authors and books that inspired me: Nancy Werlin’s books. The prologue of Killer’s Cousin. The risks she took in Rules of Survival and Impossible! I was thrilled when she blurbed Believe. Walter Dean Myers, especially Monster. That book! The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier. That ending! Carolyn Coman’s Many Stones and What Jamie Saw. I still strive to write sentences as perfect as hers.
44184Of course, there are many other books that continue to inspire and motivate me! I could give you a long list!

El Space: What do you hope readers take away from after reading your book?
Sarah: I hope that people will talk about faith and how it divides us, when it should bring us together on every level. I hope that we can begin to have more interfaith conversations. Skepticism is normal. I would love it if this book gave young adults a chance to have that discussion.

Of course, I also hope readers think about our world and our obsession with fame and an unending stream of information. We idolize celebrities and at the same time, we love to watch them crash. We are a nation of rubberneckers! I hope Janine’s struggles with her celebrity get people talking!

El Space: What advice do you have for an author who wishes to write about a provocative subject?
Sarah: Be brave. Be determined. Take out an index card and write down what you want your book to say. Find a supportive reader and don’t worry about the politics. Explore your character. Be true to your story. There’s an audience for this, and they need your book.

Thanks, Sarah, for being my guest!

If you’re looking for more about Sarah, you can find her at her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Oh, and also here too. Believe is available here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
The Book Stall
Powell’s Books
Indiebound

One of YOU will receive the Amazon gift card just by commenting. This giveaway is for followers and regular commenters. Eligibility has reset, so past winners are now once more eligible.

POST UPDATE: The winner will be announced on Thursday!

Book covers with the exception of Believe, are from Goodreads. Camera from cliparthaven.com.

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44 thoughts on “Check This Out: Believe

  1. Sounds intriguing. Curiosity always draws readers!
    And what a way to meet your husband. If that had been me with my wife, I would probably have been hit with a restraining order. Among other things.

  2. I’ve been trying not to buy Kindle books lately, since I have so many physical books on my shelf that need reading, but I went on a spending spree earlier this evening, and Believe sounds really interesting, so I think I will just add to it some more. Definitely some topics there we don’t see everyday!

    • I know what you mean, Emily. I just bought a book for the Kindle AND two print books. Sigh. Meanwhile, the books are taking over my living room. Perhaps I should write a horror story: The Day the Books Took Over. Somehow though, that doesn’t sound very scary.

      • I have a kindle stack. A HC stack. A wishlist. It does take over! Of course, I hope that BELIEVE makes it to lots of stacks, but I also know there are a lot of books out there! The one I’ve been recommending comes out later this month: All The Truth That’s in Me, by Julie Berry.

    • Thank you. I don’t think I heard about that rescuer either, unless I just forgot about the incident. Yes. Very sad. I can’t help thinking about reality TV shows that make instant celebrities out of ordinary Joes. Some of them seem to cling to the spotlight. It can be very seductive.

      • He died about five years after the original event. (Remember: this was still a time when CNN and other 24 hour news networks were still developing.) He was not the guy from the picture. But he was interviewed a lot. It’s really sad.

  3. Hooray for Sarah and Believe. I’ve been thinking a lot about the dual edge sword of celebrity recently. About wealth and recognition vs. no privacy whatsoever. There are parts of my quiet life that I just wouldn’t want to give up, and other bits I’d be happy to part with. You?

    • Anna, I know what you mean. A couple of weeks ago, I watched an old interview with J. K. Rowling. It took place at a coffee shop. Back then, no one recognized her or bothered her on the street. Now things are very different for her.

      • Of course! I love hearing from readers, but I don’t like how preoccupied we can be with our reputations/feedback. I try to focus on why I started doing this: the story. Readers. Making the world better. I only write better when I turn all this other stuff off.

      • It’s a wonderful VCFA world! Pardon the shameless plug, but if you are looking for a supportive online writing community, check out writers.com. Lots of great classes. Not too expensive. Lots of great people doing amazing work!

  4. I’m in the mood for a book that makes me think. (Other than ones that just make me angry I downloaded them in the first place……….) Believe sounds like it might be a fit. Thanks for sharing it, Linda.

    • Thanks for your comment! I have always loved books about tough topics with not such perfect characters. As a writer, I constantly find myself drawn to very imperfect characters…often who must come of age in public. Thinking is what challenges me as a writer. (Just ask my kids!!!)

    • I’m glad to do so, Andra. I’m intrigued with Believe and the nature of celebrity. At the checkout lines, I’ve gazed at some of the magazines and failed to recognize some of the newer celebrities. So many people are famous now–some just because they’re famous. This is a good time for Sarah’s book.

      • This is our world!! I was really interested in someone who not just didn’t deserve the fame…but wasn’t really all that excited to have all those expectations dropped on her. I’d LOVE to see your short story, Lyn!!!!

  5. Pingback: Is Your Writing “Real”? | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

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