Parker spoke with fellow author Stephanie Elliot about her debut, a contemporary YA novel just published by Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster. Parker is a member of the online novelist group the Sweet Sixteens, for writers debuting in 2016; Elliot rolls with the Swanky Seventeens.
ABOUT THE NOVEL
THE GIRL WHO FELL earned a starred review from School Library Journal. SLJ praised the novel as “an invaluable addition to any collection.”
High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.
Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.
But love has a way of changing things.
Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.
Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?
But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.
So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.
If she waits any longer, it may be too late.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast with a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel. Find her at her website, shannonmparker.com, on Twitter , on Instagram and at goodreads.
TALKING ABOUT ‘THE GIRL WHO FELL’
Stephanie: Shannon, you were one of the first Sixteen authors who reached out to me when I sold and you took the time to speak to me on the phone – that really meant so much to me – you were so gracious and kind and welcoming! Also, thank you so much for letting me get a sneak peek at your beautiful important novel, The Girl Who Fell! What is the best thing you’ve discovered about being a YA writer?
Shannon: Yay! It was such a joy to speak with you that first time! And I was so honored you wanted to read my debut, so thank you for that! And…this is the perfect segue into my answer to your question: For me, the absolute best part about being a YA writer is the YA writing and reading community. There is so much support and enthusiasm. It’s humbling and invigorating all at once. *waves*
Stephanie: In The Girl Who Fell, the writing is so lyrical. I think the way it’s set up, (no spoiler alert!) the reader expects something bad is going to happen, but HELLO! How do you make us LOVE Alec? You are brilliant in your character sketch, really. What’s your trick?
Shannon: Thank you! I’m such a fan of lyrical writing so your compliment means the world. If I’m being honest, I am SO GLAD you fell for Alec the way that Zephyr does. It’s kind of the point of the book, really. And the trickiest to write, for sure. Zephyr Doyle—and the teen girls she is created for—is so strong and smart that she wouldn’t fall for a guy that came on too strong. Alec had to woo her. Alec has to woo the reader.
Stephanie: Alec DEFINITELY “wooed” me! I love that you make Alec’s and Zee’s relationship completely realistic, believable and relatable. How did you know how far you wanted to take their relationship sexually? Why do you think it was important for you to go there?
Shannon: Teen girls are sexual beings and I feel strongly that they need books that don’t shame them for their sexual curiosity, their sexual exploration. But with The Girl Who Fell, it was more important to build a trusting and layered intimacy between my main characters. By the time Zephyr and Alec have sex, they’ve established an emotional bond. Zephyr trusts Alec. She trusts her heart. And she gives over to—and embraces—the sensual side of her love for a boy.
Stephanie: Zee is such a strong woman, so it makes it that much harder for the reader to watch her fall, because she’s not an idiot—she’s extremely intelligent. Likewise, Alec’s very smart too. This makes the story that much more difficult to get through knowing that such a smart girl is being played. Throughout the editing process, did you have to make many changes to reflect their strengths or tone anything down? Did the original draft change much?
Shannon: Zephyr is so driven; she’s a force—just like most girls. Her character didn’t change much in editing. Nor did Alec’s character. Zephyr’s relationship with her two close friends was edited significantly, but most of the editing focused on firming up the tone of the book. I had to take out a lot of funnier dialogue and scenes in order to preserve the intensity of the story.
Stephanie: What was the catalyst for writing GIRL? Did you have a controlling boyfriend when you were in high school?
Shannon: This is the question I have been asked most often since the book’s circulation, and I’ve included an Author’s Note in the final printing to address this very inquiry. The Girl Who Fell is a work of fiction and I didn’t have an Alec in my life. But so many do. Too many. I wrote the book for them. Because girls should know that falling victim to a manipulator is not their fault. First love is intoxicating. Dangerous. All consuming. And the risks are enormous. Sometimes we fall too hard, and for the wrong person. But it’s never too late to regain your voice.
Stephanie: There were times during my reading that my heart actually sped up and I got really nervous. Also, at times I felt the “awww” feelings of first love. There were so many different emotions I experienced while reading GIRL! You did such a fabulous job in evoking emotion – what’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Shannon: Aw! Thank you! What an enormous compliment. I’m grateful that the actual writing has always come easy for me. The hardest part of writing is carving out time. I have two young kids, work full time and run a family business that is out of state. Also, we’re restoring a 160-year-old house. It gets to be a lot some days. But I get super cranky when I don’t write (it’s not pretty) so my family is all good with me saying I need to disappear for a few hours with my characters. J
Stephanie: Throughout the whole lengthy process to publication, which part was the most surprising to you and why?
Shannon: I hope it’s not a cop-out to say everything. I’d honestly be lying if I gave another answer. I am surprised every.single.day by the debut experience.
Salty or Sweet?
Sweet for the win
Best Song in the World?
You’re the One that I Want (Grease Soundtrack) [all doubters may just need a reminder]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKPYe53h78]
A non-electronic item you can’t live without?
Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies
Drink of Choice?
Vitamin Water (so lame, but so true)
Sleep. Quiet. Uggs. Laptop. Lip balm. Water.
If not a writer I’d like to be?
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Stephanie Elliot hates crafting interesting bios. She obviously loves to read and write, and napping is her next all-time favorite activity in the world (Look up #napmaster on Twitter!).
She’s been married for a long time and has three children who cannot be the ages they are already. She’s lived in Florida, Illinois (twice!), Pennsylvania, and now resides in Arizona, but to her, “home” is family and a page-turner. Her debut young adult novel, Sad Perfect (FSG/Winter 2017) is based on a unique eating disorder her teenage daughter has: ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). Visit stephanieelliot.com for more info.