Today we're excited to chat with Tori Sharp author of
Read on for more about Tori, her book, plus an giveaway!
Meet Tori Sharp!
Tori Sharp is a Seattle-based author-illustrator and swing and blues dancer with a BFA in sequential art from SCAD. You can find her online at www.noveltori.com and on Twitter @noveltori. Just Pretend is her debut graphic novel.
Meet Just Pretend!
Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents' divorce.
Tori has never lived in just one world.
Since her parents' divorce, she's lived in both her mom's house and her dad's new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there's school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.
Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.
Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Most of the characters in Just Pretend are my family and friends, and it would feel strange to choose a “favorite” among them, so I’ll focus on the characters in the fantasy story subplot. Talia was the most fun to draw because of the loops in her hair, her exaggerated expressions, and her curly fairy wings. And some of her dialogue makes me laugh every time I read it. But the other characters in the fantasy story are equally important to me in terms of what they represent, and I’m desperately curious how readers will interpret them!
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The story came first! I always write from theme, so I built a story around what the book is “about” before I came up with a title. At first the project’s temporary title was “Worlds Apart,” which I still like, but it wasn’t quite perfect. After the book was picked up by Little, Brown, we brainstormed lots of titles. My editor and I love titles that have double meanings, and “Just Pretend” references both the use of pretend play as a coping mechanism and how sometimes you feel a pressure to pretend that everything is all right.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I’m really, really proud of the ending. The last few pages have no dialogue, and I loved ending the book on a quiet moment that’s open-ended and hopeful. I love it because I have a feeling that some readers, the ones who really get it, will treasure it.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
While working on Just Pretend, I’ve certainly learned to trust myself more as a writer and artist. At every stage of the process, I worried that it wouldn’t come together or that I’d mess it up, but it always worked out. Now that I’ve been able to hold the finished book in my hands and read it, I have nothing but affection for it! It is exactly the book I needed to write at that moment in my life, so it is perfect to me. I’m incredibly proud of it and hope that when I draw my next book, I’ll be able to skip some of that stress and replace it with even more excitement and confidence.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the irony of my memoir cover having fantastical dragons and fairies and magic wands on it. That feels right—any true story about me has to involve dragons. I’ve always been off in my own world! As a kid I wanted desperately to be swept away on some epic otherworldly adventure like in my favorite books, and I daydreamed constantly about the made-up places I read about. From an artistic standpoint, I also love the overall simplicity of the cover and how it has a subtle triangular composition (if you squint), which feels steady and solid.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2021?
There’s a children’s picture book called A Pizza with Everything on It that sounds right up my alley! It just came out, and I’m hoping to pick up a copy when I visit my local bookshop to sign preorders of Just Pretend. I love stories that are lighthearted and a little absurd! The book is written by Kyle Scheele and illustrated by Andy J. Pizza. I’ve been a fan of Andy’s uplifting podcast Creative Pep Talk for years, so I’m very excited to see his lively illustrations in a picture book!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
It’s comics as far as the eye can see! I’ve been working on a new book that I’m absolutely in love with, and I can’t wait to share more about this story. It’s a joyful story, and after the stress of the last year I am so ready to immerse myself in drawing a graphic novel that’s soft and happy and loving. I might be able to share more details about it soon! I’m also endlessly excited about the projects by the authors and illustrators I represent as an agent—they are creating some marvelous work.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
I kept crying while I wrote and illustrated the scenes leading up to the ending! I’d think, ‘This is the last panel with Taylor,’ or, ‘This is the last scene in my old school,’ and it felt like letting go of moments from my own life over and over. With a comic, you feel the story’s catharsis several times because you write it, then thumbnail, pencil, ink, and color it. You spend hours upon hours with every page and panel. The feelings of catharsis and nostalgia didn’t wear off with each iteration of the manuscript, but at the same time it became peaceful to keep returning to those moments and to wonder how others would feel while reading those same scenes.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I love revising! Watching all the pieces of a story click into place is an incredible feeling. With drafting, every now and then it feels absolutely magical, but most of the time it’s a slog and you have to ignore or at least tolerate so much uncertainty about whether the story will come together. Drafting feels like lugging everything you own to a new house, and revising is finding the perfect place to put everything until it suddenly feels like home.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
My superpower is that I bake scrumptious lemon shortbread cookies, or that I can make anyone laugh.
By: Tori Sharp
Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Publisher: Little Brown BYR
Three winners will each receive a copy of Just Pretend (Tori Sharp) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*