Author Chat with Sarah Tomp (The Best Part Of Impossible), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Sarah Tomp author of
The Best Part Of Impossible.
Read on for more about Sarah and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Sarah Tomp!
Sarah Tomp has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in San Diego where she works in middle schools, providing support to children with a variety of needs and abilities. She also teaches adult creative writing classes for UCSD-Extension and reviews books for Bookbrowse.com. Growing up, she was far more likely to explore the outdoors—including caving—than to participate on organized teams. However, as the mother of three athletic children, she has logged in years of cheering for many sports, including the unique world of springboard diving. She can be found at www.sarahtomp.com [sarahtomp.com].
Meet The Best Part Of Impossible!
After an injury forces Ria off the diving team, an unexpected friendship with Cotton, a guy on the autism spectrum, helps her come to terms with the abusive relationship she’s been in with her former coach.
Ria Williams was an elite diver on track for the Olympics. As someone who struggled in school, largely due to her ADHD, diving was the one place Ria could shine. But while her parents were focused on the trophies, no one noticed how Coach Benny’s strict rules and punishments controlled every aspect of Ria’s life. The harder he was on her, the sharper her focus. The bigger the bruise, the better the dive. Until a freak accident at a meet changes everything. Just like that, Ria is handed back her life, free of Benny.
To fill her now-empty and aimless days, Ria rekindles a friendship with Cotton, a guy she used to know back in elementary school. With Cotton, she’s able to open up about what Benny would do to her, and through Cotton’s eyes, Ria is able to see it for what it was: abuse. Then Benny returns, offering Ria a second chance with a life-changing diving opportunity. But it’s not hers alone—Benny’s coaching comes with it. The thought of being back under his control seems impossible to bear, but so does walking away. How do you separate the impossible from the possible when the one thing you love is so tangled up in the thing you fear most?
~ Author Chat ~
WHAT GAVE YOU THE INSPIRATION TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
For The Easy Part of Impossible, I started with a very basic idea: I wanted to write a love story between a lost girl and a boy who makes maps. I was thinking about the caves I explored while growing up with a geologist father. And, also, the students I work with; their joys and heartbreaks. Like the one who explained what so many can’t articulate, “I’m not in control of my body right now.” Two autistic students showing me their moves in eager anticipation of a school dance. The saving friendships that form between kids who feel like outsiders. And, I was spending a tremendous amount of time supporting my children’s sporting activities; including my daughter’s love of diving.
As the mother of three athletic, competitive children, I’ve watched a lot of coaches in action. There are many admirable coaches who inspire and empower young athletes. But regardless of their attitude and aptitude, coaches have an extraordinary amount of influence over their captive audience. Coaches are preachers for a religion I don’t understand.
Diving is, to me, a mysterious sport. It’s demanding, terrifying, exhilarating and requires a disregard for personal comfort—both physically and emotionally. And yet, the challenge and the thrill appeals to a small group of dedicated athletes. They hurl themselves into space, fighting gravity. They admire each other’s bruises. Everyone claps and cheers for loud smacks—because they know it hurts. They face—or completely ignore—their fear. I’m in awe of them.
Then my daughter’s college dive team ended up in crisis. When the group of talented and hard-working young women athletes tried to stand up for themselves, they were mistreated and betrayed. The people in charge chose easy over right. The divers were heartbroken. I was pissed.
WHICH CHARACTER GAVE YOU THE MOST TROUBLE WHEN WRITING YOUR LATEST BOOK?
Coach Benny. As Ria’s long-time diving coach, he is her biggest supporter and the one person who cares as much about her sport as she does. Their relationship is intense and intimate. But he’s also abusing her, both emotionally and physically. He’s trained her to believe she deserves any punishment he doles out—that, in fact, those abuses are the reason for her success.
It was important to me that readers see that he is truly controlling and even violent; but that they don’t blame Ria for sticking with him. A huge part of why victims have trouble asking for help is shame. They feel embarrassed and responsible for their dire situation. And so, they also hold out hope they can fix the relationship.
The unfortunate truth is, most abusers are hard to identify, especially to outsiders. They don’t look the part of a cartoon villain. There’s no ominous music in the background warning us to be wary. Instead, they are often charming. Attentive. Devoted. They can be well-spoken, funny, and generous—in certain situations, under their terms.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE COVER OF THE BOOK?
Everything! The young woman on my cover is underwater—and it’s not clear how she feels. That’s a perfect portrayal of Ria’s state of mind, in her favorite place to be. I also love the colors, and the way the letter spelling out the title are wobbly as if they too are submerged. The image on the cover is from a painting by artist Samantha French who has painted many stunning portraits of women underwater. On the hardback final version of the book, the water wraps around to the back—it’s gorgeous and haunting. Many thanks to designer David Dewitt, via the HarperCollins team.
WHICH PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY MORE: DRAFTING OR REVISING?
Can I say both? Neither? It depends on the day. But also, I don’t have clear boundaries between the two parts. I think of my process as a spiral, not a straight line. At the start of a new story I write wide and vague and all over the place. I circle around and around, trying to find the center. This means I’m constantly drafting new scenes and revising others. Sometimes I get dizzy and lost.
I adore getting to know new characters and exploring their world as I draft early scenes. I am constantly surprised by the things that come to mind. But it’s also incredibly satisfying to take all the wild untamed parts and put them in order during revision. The hard days are the ones in between these stages—when I have a lot of words and images but haven’t figured out how they work together yet.
That said, there is nothing better than having a smart editor who helps with the weeding and puts up sign posts! I loved every minute of my editorial process working with Alyssa Miele at HarperCollins.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR SUPEROWER?
Napping! I have a remarkable talent for this. I can decide how long I have and need– my usual times are 7, 17 or 23 minutes—then pretty much immediately fall asleep and I will wake up as planned, feeling refreshed and revived.
It’s a good thing I can do this because deep thinking makes me sleepy. My best days of writing have me going back and forth between working and napping.
THINKING WAY BACK TO THE BEGINNING, WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED AS A WRITER FROM THEN UNTIL NOW?
Writing is a bit like praying. It’s hard to know if anyone is listening. But it makes me a better person and it helps me sleep at night.
WHAT’S A BOOK YOU’VE RECENTLY READ AND LOVED?
I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade novels since the pandemic started. They suit my current attention span and need for big-hearted stories. I recently finished Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee. I absolutely adored Lenny and her oh-so-unusual way of describing the ordinary. The prose is truly exquisite.
WHAT’S ON YOUR TBR PILE?
I always have a ridiculously long list of want-to-reads! I’m currently reading The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo. But my heart belongs to YA and next up, I have several to choose from: My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmerman, Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli, The Edge of Anything by Nora Shalaway Carpenter and Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost.
IS THERE AN ORGANIZATION OR CAUSE THAT IS CLOSE TO YOUR HEART?
Is it too vague to say public schools? It seems to me that schools are the center of the universe!
I’ve worked for public schools all my adult life—and I am honored to be part of such a dedicated, passionate, caring, and creative institution. My heart aches for all the students and families who are currently missing their friends, classmates, teachers—and for the myriad of people who keep that world spinning.
The Best Part Of Impossible
By: Sarah Tomp
Release Date: April 21st, 2020
Two winners will each receive a copy of The Best Part Of Impossible (Sarah Tomp) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*