Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!
This Saturday Night we welcome Sharon Roat. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.
Sharon, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?
About Me: I grew up in Lancaster County, Pa., and now live in northern Delaware with my husband and two kids. I started writing young adult novels after spending 20+ years working in public relations, and I feel so fortunate to be constantly learning (about the world, the lives of others, myself) from the writing process and the YA community. I grow vegetables. I take naps. I read a lot. I also co-chair the Delaware Festival of Words which is an annual event for teens, teachers, and librarians that features diverse authors and ideas.
About My Books: My contemporary YA novels feature characters who are faced with difficult changes in their lives:
- In Between the Notes, Ivy’s family loses their home and her beloved piano (due in part to medical costs for her disabled little brother). She tries to keep it a secret from her friends and a new boy she likes, so they won’t treat her differently. But a bad-boy-next-door threatens to ruin everything, and Ivy’s lies start to unravel.
- In How to Disappear, Vicky’s best friend moves away, leaving her isolated due to severe social anxiety. Her mother pressures her to make new friends, but even the prospect of saying “hi” to people in the hall at school is terrifying. So, she creates a new identity on Instagram, and lives vicariously by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures.
How I feel about 70s music: I was alive in the 70s, and my first album was the Bee Gees’ Stayin Alive and OMG I just watched the music video and it is epic. (I still believe my crush on Barry Gibb was warranted, because he was pretty freaking cute, even with those tight, high-waisted, white pants!)
When did you feel like this is it, I’m an author whose words are going to be read by, and have an impact on, others?
It hit me gradually… when ARCs of my debut novel first went out, and again the day of my launch party. The first time I really felt good about it was when a reader messaged me to say how much my book meant to her, because it felt true to her own experience as the older sister of a disabled boy. Whenever a reader writes to me or mentions in a review that some aspect of one of my books was meaningful to them, or helped them… I just melt. How to Disappear is out now in ARC form, and I’ve heard from some readers who’ve related to the social anxiety, said “this is me” or “I wish I had this book as a teen” and that means so much to me.
What do you want your readers to take with them after having read your books?
I always hope they take away something that speaks to them, and that will differ from reader to reader! With How to Disappear, I hope readers who experience social anxiety will feel that they are not alone. I would love if it inspires more people to reach out in positive ways, both online and in person, to those who feel invisible.
What does the future look like for you, Sharon? Future projects, releases etc.?
I’m looking forward to the release of How to Disappear in the U.S. on August 15, and am also excited that it will be translated into a number of foreign languages. I’m working on something new but I haven’t told very many people about it yet… it’s my secret, special project that incorporates my love of nature.
If one (or several) of your characters got invited to a 70s-themed party, what would they wear and what song and/or person would bring them to the dance floor?
If the main character of How to Disappear got invited to a disco, the most unforgettable moment would be if she actually stepped foot in the place—which would be a huge challenge for her. Vicky would be more likely to experience a disco vicariously, by Photoshopping herself into someone else’s photo of an evening there. In that case, she’d possibly be hanging from a disco ball, or dancing with John Travolta.
You can easily look back at the 70s and see how the times have changed. If you look at the book community and publishing world today, what changes would you like to see for the future?
I hope the WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS movement continues to thrive, so the future will have an unlimited supply of books that help readers better understand people/cultures/experiences/POVs that differ from their own, and also see themselves in literature. I hope there comes a time when books like All American Boys and The Hate U Give are read as a history lesson, to look back on how it was before our society changed so that what happened to Rashad and Khalil and their communities doesn’t happen anymore, (and to recognize that those books were instrumental in bringing about that change).
Sharon, can you recommend two already published diverse books you’ve read and loved and one you can’t wait to read?
I loved Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez. I can’t wait to read Wild Beauty by Anna-Mare McLemore.
Lastly, to end this interview, do you have a favorite 70s song to recommend your readers?
It’s gotta be “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.
Thank you so much, Sharon, for answering my questions. I hope you readers enjoyed this interview, I know I did! Eager to find out more about Sharon Roat? All information about her and her books can be found on her website. You can also find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads and buy her books on Amazon.
About The Author
Sharon Huss Roat is the author of HarperTeen novels Between the Notes (June 2015) and How to Disappear (August 2017). She grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Delaware with her husband and two children. When not working on her next book, she can be found reading, gardening, cooking, or napping. She loves to hear from readers, so visit her online at sharonroat.com on Twitter @sharonwrote or Instagram @sharonhussroat.
Since I promised a very 70s music-themed interview series, I have one last surprise, a favorite 70s song of mine (and there will be a new one every week yay). Now let’s get those dance moves on, here’s Hold The Line by Toto.
Do you want to listen to all of the songs from my Saturday Night Author Fever interview series?
To make things easier I have created a Spotify playlist that features all of the songs mentioned in my Saturday Night Author Fever posts. You can check out the playlist below or go here. Every time a new interview is published new songs will be added to it.