Author Chat with Shivaun Plozza (Tin Heart) , Plus Giveaway ~ (US Only)!
Today we're excited to chat with Shivaun Plozza, author of Tin Heart.
Read on for more about Shivaun and her book, an excerpt, plus an giveaway!
Meet Shivaun Plozza!
Shivaun Plozza has published short fiction, poetry, and essays, and works as an editor. Frankie, her first novel, won the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award and was shortlisted for the Australian Children’s Book of the Year and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Shivaun lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Meet Tin Heart!
When Marlowe gets a heart transplant and a second chance at life, all she wants to do is to thank her donor’s family. Maybe then she can move on. Maybe then she’ll discover who she is if she’s no longer The Dying Girl. But with a little brother who dresses like every day is Halloween, a vegan warrior for a mother, and an all-out war with the hot butcher’s apprentice next door, Marlowe’s life is already pretty complicated. And her second chance is about to take an unexpected turn...
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I was inspired by my brother's experience as an organ transplant recipient. Seeing him go through a life-threatening illness was hard but the thing I wasn't prepared for was what life would be like after the transplant. I think we all saw the transplant as a magical fix but it's more complicated than that, more-so for the juxtaposition of feelings it evokes: extreme relief and joy but also fear and guilt. The guilt was the biggest surprise for me – I couldn't stop thinking about how my joy for my brother's second chance came at the expense of another family's grief. And the more I looked into it, the more I saw that news stories about organ transplants only ever focused on the idea of success and ‘happily ever after’. So I wanted to write a story that actually begins at the point of ‘…and she lived happily ever after’ and asks, but what really happens after?
On a lighter note, I'd also had an idea for a love story floating around in my head for a long time: Romeo and Juliet but with a butcher and a vegan. That's in the novel too and it's a lot of fun.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked this question because now I get to scream about how much I love Pip! He’s the younger brother of the main character, Marlowe, and he’s just the sweetest, funniest, quirkiest kid. He’s sunshine wrapped in a rainbow. Imagine an unwaveringly happy 12-year-old version of David Bowie and that’s pretty much him. He likes to design and construct these elaborate costumes and wears them every day. He even has elaborate backstories for each of the costumes – there’s one called Octo-punk, which is an alien octopus that was sent to Earth to take over the royal family but he landed in 1970s Britain and got into punk instead. He was just a joy to write and I wish he was real and that he was my little brother.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Normally I like to have the title sorted before I start writing but I found it impossible to come up with one for this story so I gave up and started writing, hoping that something would pop into my head. And it did, because I kept throwing in little references to The Wizard of Oz (it’s one of Pip’s favourite books) and that’s when the idea for the title – Tin Heart – finally came to me.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I struggled writing the whole book because I was so emotionally attached to the story – it hits very close to home. It made writing the emotional scenes that much harder but by the same token I’m very proud of those scenes. My favourite is probably a flashback to where we see Pip dealing with grief for the first time when his hero, David Bowie, dies. I wanted to explore a scene that dealt with the idea of thankfulness – that when someone you love dies one of the most powerful things you can do is give thanks for their life in some outward, conscious way. Pip is a vibrant, joyful character so his way of giving thanks is to build a rocket and let it off. It's a sweet scene but it makes me cry every time so it was hard to write.
I’m going to cheat here and say another scene I love is the kissing scene. Let’s just say I managed to weave Lord of the Rings jokes throughout all the epic kissing hotness. I’m quite proud of that.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I've been wanting to write explicitly about anxiety for a while now, as it's something I've experienced my whole life. When I bring my anxiety disorder up at school talks, students have lots of questions about it because many of them deal with anxiety too but there aren't a lot of avenues for them to talk about it or to hear from someone who lives with it. I've found it difficult to be open about it but when I see how responsive the students are, that gives me a reason to be open. I'm also messing around with genre, mixing things up a bit. I'm finding that a lot of fun.
I’ve also got a Middle Grade fantasy novel coming out next year-ish but I can’t talk too much about that yet! I had so much fun writing it and I can’t wait to write more in that genre and for that age group.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Definitely the main character, Marlowe. Because her character was in a situation that I couldn't personally identify with, I felt disconnected to her at the start of the writing process. I wanted to do all I could to ensure I handled her character and her experiences with sensitivity and as much authenticity as possible. That meant a lot of research, talking to my brother and of course hiring sensitivity readers. But I still wanted to be able to put myself in her shoes and feel connected to her so I gave her a lot of myself too. I gave her my social awkwardness, my anxiety, my sense of humour, my self-doubt. Wherever possible, I found ways to find a common ground between us. For example, Marlowe has a large scar in a similar location that I have one so I thought back to what it had been like when I was a teenager worried about my appearance because of the scar and I put a lot of that in there too. So I really had to examine myself – present me and past me. It was confronting but it showed me how much I've changed and how much resilience I have now.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I love everything about the writing process EXCEPT for first drafts. Those kill me. I tend to spend a long time planning – thinking things through, imagining scenes in my head, thinking about who my characters are and what motivates them. I usually jot down a basic plan – overall structure, ideas for chapters/scenes – and then I word vomit the first draft. I have a rule of no editing or reading back allowed – I just have to write and write and write and keep going until the end. If I run out of steam or can’t think of what to write for a particular scene I make a few notes about what could go there and just keep writing. And of course it’s horrible – it’s complete word-vomity trash and I hate the whole thing. But once I have that first horrible draft I feel like I can actually see what the book might end up looking like and it feels possible. So once the first draft is out of the way, then I get to have fun. It’s still frustrating of course but it’s fun too.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I was always a big believer in the importance of organ donation – I signed up as a donor the second I was legally able to! – but after my brother’s experience and then through researching and writing Tin Heart, I’m even more aware of the issue than I was before.
As part of my research, I was fortunate to have a chat with someone from the Victorian branch of Donate Life, the Australian government organ and tissue authority. I was shocked at how low the percentage of organ donations are and while it has a lot to do with circumstances, belief systems and health, there are things we can be doing to push that number higher: speak to your loved ones about your wishes with regards to donation and, if you live in a country with an opt-in rule like I do, make sure you’ve signed up to be an organ donor. Even though I find talking about this book hard and I never fail to cry when I do, I’ve valued the opportunity to keep the conversation going and to hopefully encourage more people to sign up to be donors.
By: Shivaun Plozza
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: March 12th, 2019
Two winners will each receive a copy of Tin Heart (Shivaun Plozza) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
Sounds good! It's got to be hard writing about something you know, but at the same time, it makes it THAT much more relatable to the reader. Thanks for sharing!
I was so surprised to see this was about a girl who had a heart transplant. Sounds like she's such a normal girl, just wanting a normal life.