Today we're excited to chat with Anna Jarzab author of
Breath Like Water.
Read on for more about Anna and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Anna Jarzab!
Anna Jarzab is a Midwesterner turned New Yorker. She lives and works in New York City and is the author of such books as Red Dirt, All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the Many-Worlds series. Visit her online at annajarzab.com [annajarzab.com] and on Twitter, @ajarzab.
Meet Breath Like Water!
Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.
As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Like most books, this one was inspired by many different things. Breath Like Water is about an elite swimmer trying to make it to the Olympics. I was a competitive swimmer through my childhood and adolescence, so while I was never anywhere near as good as Susannah is, I always wanted to write a book about swimming and swimmers. But the two main characters popped into my head while I was falling asleep one night. I hopped out of bed, quickly jotted down some notes about them, and then went back to sleep. The next day, I started building a story around them. It's very different than the story the book tells today, but there are still little bits of that first story here and there, and the characters remain very much the same as they were when my brain dreamed them up seven and a half years ago.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
The character I feel the most connected to and have the most in common with is definitely Susannah, the main character. But my favorite character is her best friend/boyfriend, Harry. He's sweet and funny and loyal and smart and brave and charming, while also being really complex and sort of secretive and evasive and heartbreaking. I really loved writing him and spending time with him. He's definitely the character I'm fondest of and miss the most now that the book is done. But Susannah is a very, very close second, because she's a woman after my own heart.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel for sure. It spent the first maybe four or five years of its life with a different title, and then the next two or so years of its life with yet ANOTHER title before we decided on this one pretty late in the process. It wasn't called Breath Like Water until it was pretty much finished.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I feel like any straight answer to this would be a spoiler, but the scene that comes immediately to mind is the final scene before the epilogue. It's common for novels to have a final climactic "battle" scene, and in a book about swimming, where there is a specific race that the entire book--and the main character's entire life--has been building toward, you would think that the battle scene would be that race. But I actually think the final battle for Susannah comes after the race when she confronts her emotional demons. That scene contains my favorite line in the book, which I gave to the villain; it's so heartbreakingly true and only that person could say it.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The most important thing I've learned is to write for yourself. If you write to fit into a certain trend, or chase someone else's success, or get rich, or get famous, or have a book made into a movie, or have a book win an award, you will more likely than not be disappointed and frustrated the whole way through. The best books are the ones that come from a place inside that is earnest and honest and true. If you can write from that place, and do it for yourself, then bad reviews or an indifferent world won't matter as much, because you'll still be happy with what you've done. But this is the sort of thing every writer needs to learn for themselves. I can say it, and people can nod their heads, but everyone gets there when they get there.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
There's so much to love. The characters look just as I imagine them to look, which is always fun for an author, I think--to see your characters come to "life," even as an illustration! I also love that the way that they're drawn is so emblematic of their relationship. The fact that they're reaching toward each other, but not quite touching, represents their connection--that attraction and desire that compels them towards each other, to connect--and also the difficulties and challenges they face in actually getting all the way there. But they're so close to touching that it's easy to imagine it happening in the very next second, so there's a lot of hope and promise for what's ahead.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2020?
There are so many books to be excited about! I was very much looking forward to The Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth, which just came out and I loved. I recently heard about Don't Call the Wolf by Aleksandra Ross, which I pre-ordered immediately because it's based on Polish folklore--can't wait to read that one, and it's out now! I'm also very much looking forward to the release of Deb Caletti's new novel, Girl, Unframed and The Black Kids, the debut YA from Christina Hammonds Reed, both of which I've already read and love. Working in publishing has its perks!
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2019?
Such a hard question--I have to give you a few. I'm a big romance fan, and I loved Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore. I thought the final book in Holly Black's most recent trilogy, The Queen of Nothing, was excellent--love that series. I also really liked Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo and Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. The Toll by Neal Shusterman, another amazing (frankly, stupefyingly good) third book in a trilogy. Lovely War by Julie Berry and Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys--both incredible. Oh, and this didn't come out in 2019 but I read it in 2019 so it counts--The Skylark's War by Hilary McKay is one of the best books I've ever read. All highly recommended!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I don't know! I have a few projects I've been working on for...let's just say a long time, that I'm returning to after focusing on Breath Like Water for the last few years. One is a sort of urban fantasy, one is a more straightforward historical fantasy, and one is a YA contemporary romance set in NYC. I'm going to let the stories guide me. After many years focused on one project, it's fun to not quite know where I'm headed.
Breath Like Water
By: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2020
Three winners will each receive a copy of Breath Like Water (Anna Jarzab) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*