My friend and fellow author MIMI CROSS, just launched her debut book, BEFORE GOODBYE, a YA contemporary that’s has all the elements of a page turner – teen angst, love lost and found, dealing with loss, friendship and who to trust, and more. One lucky reader of this blog will have a chance to win a signed copy of the book. See the end of the post to learn how. For now, here’s Mimi:
Hey Darlene, thanks for having me on your blog.
You’ve asked me to answer a few questions, including how I came to write children’s books. This is probably the only thing about writing prose that’s crystal clear for me: the inspiration came from my son.
Up until my son was born, for nearly twenty years, I’d been a singer songwriter. I taught music in the schools for fifteen of those years, after receiving my Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College. I wrote stories as a kid and then again during grad school at NYU, but nothing really came of those efforts, probably because I was so focused on creating a career as a musician—although even as I write this I’m thinking: that’s not totally true. Writing is cumulative, and all creative efforts contribute The Work in some mysterious way.
Performing became impossible after my son was born, mostly because I wanted to spend every second with him. Plus, performing has a lot of moving parts. Some people can tote a couple of guitars and diaper bag at the same time, but not me.
Thankfully, the desire to create didn’t disappear, and when my son was a few years old, I wrote a bunch of stories for him. Two of those stories evolved into projects that were a lot of fun for both of us: The Crankamacallit an iPad app published by Polymash, and The Alligator Waiter, which was published by Abe’s Peanut.
But the thing is? WRITING PICTURE BOOK STORIES IS REALLY HARD. Also, picture books have an extremely important audience, the most important audience, so they have to be great. Or—they should be great. Their simplicity and beauty, among other traits, places them (at least in my mind) among the highest forms of—
Whoa. That’s a lot of pressure. And under that pressure, I did what any writer would do: I read. A lot.
I’d always been a big reader, but at that point I became a voracious reader. A chain reader. An armchair traveler in every way. I read for escape and for—
This inspiration, plus Chris Baty’s brilliant and irreverent book No Plot? No Problem got me going—I started writing novels. A few friends had already suggested I might enjoy NaNoWriMo, the wildly popular 50,000 words-in-thirty days writing marathon that Chris Baty founded, and they were right. I loved it. The words started gushing out like blood from a wound.
Another thing that helped the blood flow? Yoga.
I’ve been doing yoga on and off since I was twelve and in 2001, and after living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for a month while taking their rigorous teacher training program, I became a certified Kripalu yoga instructor. Yoga is a transformative practice for the body, mind, and spirit—but don’t take my word for it. There are a ton of books out there, and a million yoga studios. If you do start taking yoga classes, one thing I can guarantee is that you will begin inhabiting your body in a different way. And if you’re a writer, this way will help you inhabit the bodies of your characters.
A couple of years ago I created a workshop called Body of Writing that combines yoga postures, yogic breathing techniques, visualization, and meditation with writing exercises. Our bodies hold our stories, and Body of Writing safely supports the release of those stories onto the page. I’ve taught Body of Writing as a series, in private standalone sessions to boost creativity, and as a four-hour intensive at writing conferences. It’s such a pleasure to share the very things that have helped me be more creative. I love watching the magic happen.
This same magic is what helped me write Before Goodbye, a process that took several years to complete. I wrote Before Goodbye in between working on two other novels, one of which will be coming out in May 2016, called Shining Sea.
A dark fantasy, Shining Sea is a very different novel than Before Goodbye, which is a realistic, contemporary romance. And while both books are character driven, I think of Before Goodbye as a series of vignettes, while Shining Sea is an epic tome. Out of the two, Before Goodbye surprised me the most. It started out as a completely different story!
But that’s the joy of writing.
Cate Reese, one of the main characters in Before Goodbye, is a musician, and tries to control her music. But close to the end of the book, Cate concludes, “Singing with a band is trampolining with your breath. A sound you make that makes you too.”
I hesitate to say that Before Goodbye has a message—that’s not how I think when I write. But I can tell you that one of the main themes of the book is this: If you let it, Art will shape you.
To pre-order book: http://www.amazon.com/Before-Goodbye-Mimi-Cross/dp/1503951286/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Here’s the press release:
A Novel By Mimi Cross
Can Cate recover after losing her friend and muse?
Mimi Cross, an award-winning and celebrated musician/songwriter, delivers a brave and heart-wrenching YA novel with her debut BEFORE GOODBYE (Skyscape, January 1, 2016). During her musical career, Cross has shared the bill with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, and Jon Bon Jovi, and Grammy award-winning artist Rosanne Cash has praised her saying, “Mimi fuses delicacy and power, heart and gut. Her writing and singing are inspiring, evocative and refreshing.” As a novelist, Cross channels the same raw passion and intensity to tell the story of Cate, a young guitarist coping with hurt, confusion, and heartbreak.
Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.
Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in. As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives . . . and, together, find a way to be whole again.
Beautifully written and emotionally resonant, BEFORE GOODBYE is a mesmerizing debut that reminds readers that you can find hope in times of tragedy—and harmony in times of discord.
BEFORE GOODBYE by Mimi Cross * On-Sale Date: January 1, 2016
Price: $24.95 hardcover, $9.99 paperback, $5.99 eBook * Skyscape
Now, if you’d like to win a signed copy of BEFORE GOODBYE just leave a comment on this post. Your name will be entered once. Tweet about it or share the post on FB and your name will be entered again. Let me know what you are doing so I can give you the correct number of entries. You have until Wednesday, 1-27, 2016, when the winner will be announced. Good luck!