Skip to main content

Into YA with Nikki Barthelmess

Today, the wonderful Nikki Barthelmess is here to chat about her new novel, The Quiet You Carry, which comes out on March 5. If you haven't heard about the The Quiet You Carry, I recommend you check out my review of it to provide a little context for the interview. 
1. In the unfolding of Victoria’s story, you expertly point out points in the foster system where its flaws and procedural issues lead to it being just as hard and ruthless as it’s portrayed in movies and television, but you also humanize it beautifully, showing the good intentions beneath the struggle. Was it important for you to show the softer side of the system with Connie’s evolution and the relationships between the foster sisters? Is there a change to the system that you think would allow people like Connie to make her realizations sooner and make transitions like Victoria’s less traumatic?
I think, in general, most people aren’t all good or all bad. Even those we consider villains, tend to see themselves as doing the right thing, or at least trying to. So, in that regard, even though I would hope I wouldn’t act the way Connie does when she first meets Victoria, I understand why she is the way she is, if that makes sense. In the same vein, it seems from Victoria’s perspective that her case worker is being negligent or doesn’t care about what happens to her. But from Mindy’s perspective, she’s doing the best she can, juggling the impossible caseload of foster kids she has to work with. 
As far as changing the system to make entering and experiencing foster care less traumatic for kids like Victoria and her foster sisters, I could take all day answering that question. But for starters, I think it’s important for people working in child welfare to remember how much the kids who are in their care have already suffered, and for them to treat these kids with kindness, dignity, and respect. 


2. Though your story differs from Victoria’s, you have talked about being in the foster system yourself. When did you decide you wanted to write a book about a girl in foster care? Did you ever have a hard time with the subject matter being so personal?
When I first started writing fiction, I had no desire to write a story about someone in foster care. I thought if I wanted to do that, maybe I’d write a memoir someday. But then I started to learn about how important it is for people from marginalized communities to see themselves represented in fiction. For many years I had noticed there being a lot of stigma and misconceptions surrounding people who grew up in foster care, and I wanted to do something about that. 
I think the reason I didn’t want to write a story about a foster kid, initially, was that I knew it would be really hard for me. Writing this book forced me to sit with some pretty traumatic memories. As you mentioned, Victoria’s story isn’t based on mine, but there are similarities. Victoria’s emotions, from feeling abused and abandoned to wanting to protect her abuser as well as being ashamed of things that weren’t her fault, are all feelings I had. At times, it was painful reliving those. 


3. As a debut author, you’re still close to the time you spent querying. What was that process like for you? Do you have any advice for currently querying writers?
I realize now that the rejection that comes with querying is a good thing— it means the agent isn’t the best fit for your work, and you want your agent to love your writing since they’ll have to read it so much and may even spend years helping you revise and trying to sell it. Finding an agent, for me, didn’t take as long as did to find the right fit for a publisher, as the first book I wrote didn’t make it past the submission stage. So even when you get an agent to work with you, there can still be more rejection to come! 
My advice for querying writers is to get your writing as good as it can be, through working with critique partners and revising. After that, you should spend as much time as you possibly can researching agents and trying to find one that would be the best fit for you and you writing. That way, you’re only querying agents who are likely to give you a chance, and you’re not wasting either of your time. Remember, this process may take a while but if you want to be an author, try to get used to it, because finding an agent is only the beginning.


4. Your author bio also mentions that you are a journalist as well as a novelist. Are you equally drawn to both? Do you think your journalism background helped prepare you to write the novel, or do you feel they’re separate entities?
I have been a journalist since graduating from college in 2011, but I am transitioning to focusing mostly on my fiction, at least for now. Although they are completely different jobs, I do think my journalism background helped me become an author because I was used to working with an editor and taking constructive criticism. And I’ve had to work on deadline before, so I know how to write even when I’m not feeling inspired to do so. 


5. The Quiet You Carry debuts in less than a week. For readers who will likely be anxious for more of your work, are there any projects you can talk about that are lined up for the future? 
I’m working on something that hasn’t been announced yet, but it will be soon. So stay tuned! 

You can find Nikki online on Twitter (@nikkigrey_), Instagram (@nikkibarthelmess), and her website, nikkibarthelmess.com.

Books by this Author...
The Quiet You Carry: Review Here

Links of Interest:
On The Come Uo: Review Here
You Asked For Perfect: Review Here
The Art Losing: Review Here
Starfish: Review Here


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

How It Feels To Float

How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox (May)
Overview: Biz has a lot of sadness in her life. Her father died when she was age 7, her group of friends abandon her, and her best friend gets sent four hours away to live with her father. The world is too much, and Biz can't just float anymore. Exploring Biz's racing thoughts and grief, the book chronicles her discovering what it means to be honestly okay. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 The characters do come vividly alive but in a sort of passive way. Biz seems almost removed from herself, like she's telling the story about her life instead of speaking as they happen. Because of this, it's like seeing Biz through a foggy window and everyone else through a kaleidoscope.
I do love how supportive her mother is, her relationship with her younger twin siblings, and the mentorship and friendship she finds from an elderly lady in her photography class.
She also has an interesting relationship with her father who comes to her in hallucinati…

Into YA with James Brandon

Today I'm talking to James Brandon on the blog about his new book Ziggy Stardust and Me and how he came to write the story! Hope you enjoy!

1. You’ve written a historical novel set in the 70s. How much research went into creating an accurate setting? Was it difficult to naturally write about a world and events that took place around forty years ago?
Once I knew the story would be set in the summer of 1973, I spent a year immersing myself in the time period before I began outlining and drafting the story: I only listened to early seventies music (which I now find to be some of the raddest music to date), I watched TV shows and movies, and devoured books and magazines from that time. I also spent weeks at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco sifting through their archives. I remember finding a set of letters from a pair of lovers who I’m fairly certain never met in real life. (They couldn’t out of fear.) These letters were written with such raw emotion, you could feel the love…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…

Ultimate Halloween Book List

At the beginning of October, I unconsciously started reading murder-thriller books. It started with finally reading One of Us Is Lying and then I went to Lauren Oliver's book event for her new book, Broken Things, so I decided I would pick up a few more to read on the many plane rides I've taken recently and make a list for you. I've ranked them by the books I enjoyed most, but I'm also throwing a scariness ranking below too.

1. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved The Cheerleaders. Even if I wasn't narrowing this to just thrillers, this would still be up there. While there's no immediate threat, there's still a sinister feeling five years after five cheerleaders die in a year in three accidents. One of the girl's sister, who investigates, also has a complicated life of her own. Thomas did an awesome job of sprinkling the mystery clues and bringing us a story through such a strong voice. Here's my full Review Here (4.5 stars overall, 2 scare fact…

Into YA with Laura Silverman

Today I'm posting an interview that has been a long time in the making. I reached out to do this interview with Laura before You Asked For Perfect came out, and then things got busy so it's been a minute since doing this interview, but YAFP is one of my favorite books all year. If you haven't read the book, it is an absolute must read for anyone involved in high school, heading to senior year, in education, or is a parent. I've never read a book where I yelled "That's me!" so many times. Here's my review to catch up so that you can have a little context for that. 

1. Where did you get the inspiration to write a book about the reality students today face? I love how you delve into the intense pressure to take as many APs as possible, and, as the title implies, to be perfect.
I went to an academically competitive high school where we were encouraged to take as many AP classes as possible and to sign up for extra electives, which led to things like zero pe…

Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb

Today, I'm bringing you another guest post from an author! Kristy Fairlamb stopped by to talk about her top tips for writing and her writing process. Her novel, Lucid, recently came out. If you're interested in learning more or picking it up, check out my Indiebound link! (Affiliate Link).

Eight tips for writing a novel: Based on my vague understanding of the process after winging it and completing three manuscripts.  My first book, Lucid, has just been published, the sequel, Luminous, is mid-edits and the third, a standalone, is at the 2nddraft stage waiting until I’ve finished with the others. 
ONE:JUST WRITE I went to a writing class once and sat beside a lady who told me it was the sixth session she had attended. I asked what she was working on, she said nothing yet, she’s learning first.
I didn’t know how to write when I first started writing. I believe the best learning came after I’d written the first draft when I learnt everything I’d done wrong.
Don’t wait to write until yo…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…