Rockstar Book Tours Blog Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: Antipodes (Michele Bacon)
I was born in Trumbull County, the only square county in Ohio, where books were my favorite means of escaping an unhappy childhood. Writing was my transparent attempt to create the things I craved: big happy families, international adventures and unconditional friendship. From a young age, I was drawn to people’s stories, and I still want to know how you met your best friend or fell in love with your partner.
In high school, I embraced my inner geek and wrote my first novel. In college, there were short stories and still more novels. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in English, with concentrations in critical theory and creative writing.
Full-time work sapped my creative brain for several years, but my professional life was one of reinvention. In state government, business management consulting, and nonprofit fundraising, I adapted easily and absorbed the languages of different professions. My last paying job was as an independent fundraising consultant for nonprofit organizations. That was seven years ago.
Since then, I have been writing and traveling (and, let's be honest, chasing down small people who don't like to wear clothes). I've traveled to all 50 states and dozens of other countries, always collecting pieces of characters and ideas for stories. I recently spent a year on sabbatical in Christchurch, New Zealand, where I may have left my heart at Ilam School. Now that we've settled back in the States, I'm writing for adults and young adults, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and baking like a fiend. (You'd thinking baking would be the same everywhere, but it's not. Something is different about kiwi butter.)
When an idea strikes, I scrawl sweeping plot outlines, character idiosyncrasies, and ideas for scenes on the nearest blank spot of paper. My current manuscript was born of those torn slips of paper, used envelopes, lollipop wrappers, fuel receipts and--once--that little paper bit that keeps a nursing pad sticky until it's time to use it. My manuscripts are better than the quality of papers where they began. Promise.
Outside of writing, I am a tabletop game enthusiast, passionate skier, and lover of prime numbers. I also am a mentor at the Moving Words Writing Clinic, and a freelance copyeditor.
I live in Seattle with my husband and three growing children.
When Erin Cerise steps off her plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, she is focused intently on her mission: do something unique that will erase the mess she made of her life days before her 17th birthday. She’s already lost her swim team captainship, her boyfriend Ben, and her reputation. Her mother is certain studying abroad will regain Erin’s chances of a good future. Once Erin sees her uninspiring host family and city, though, Erin’s not so sure.
Before Christchurch, Erin wasn’t always intense and focused. A mission used to sound like a fun adventure, and the only ivy she cared about was the stuff growing around her grandparents’ back porch at their peaceful Upper Peninsula home. When had her priorities gone upside down?
Now Erin balks at NZ’s scratchy school uniforms, cold houses, and her hosts’ utter inability to pronounce her name correctly. Christchurch does boast amazing rock climbing, gorgeous scenery, and at least one guy who could make her forget Ben if she lets him. With months ahead of her, Erin slowly begins to draw on the years behind her, one step back into her memories and then another, as she rebuilds her life from the other side of the world to find that when life turns your world upside down and you’re farthest from home, every way you move takes you closer to where you came from.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I lived in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2013/2014, and I felt compelled to write about the landscape and people. They inspired the book, and I wrote it in such a way that New Zealand is really a main character. If ever you’re able, do visit; New Zealand is sublime.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Felicity. She’s absent-minded and constantly late, which would drive me bananas, but I love that she takes care of Erin while still giving her space. She’s a force of calm, which Erin desperately needs when she lands in Christchurch.
YABC:Which came first, the title or the novel? G
reat question! While living in New Zealand, I knew I wanted to write about it, and it morphed into a story about an American teen not at all keen to visit. While I toyed with ideas for the story, I realized Antipodes was a great, unique single-word title. Titling is quite difficult for me. (Honestly, I bow to authors who title each chapter. One title is often more than I can handle.) I kept the definition in mind while creating Erin and her story; I’m proud of how it worked out.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
This is an excellent question! I’m most proud of the Kapa Haka scene. Kapa Haka is traditional Maori performance—singing and dancing—and I wanted to include it as an integral aspect of kiwi culture. BUT I’m not Maori. I wanted to be completely respectful of Maori traditions, and I worked with people from New Zealand to be sure I got it right. I think I did.
YABC:Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Write bigger stories. My first manuscript was adult contemporary, and while many agents liked my writing, they all said the story was too quiet. I’ve since learned that I can start with a big, loud story, and pare down if necessary.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I think it’s gorgeous! We endured several iterations of the cover, and I’m delighted we landed on this image of Lake Matheson on NZ’s South Island. I find the image inviting, and love the colors my designer chose for texts.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2018?
Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, which shares its pub date with Antipodes. I hope to pick it up in the morning and finish it before my launch party. Otherwise, I may have difficulty focusing on my own work.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2017?
My favorite YA book was The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. My favorite adult novel was This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Another novel, I hope. I am working on many different projects right now, ranging from picture books to YA. My current manuscript pulls in more of my passions and geekery, so it’s a lot of fun to write.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
I used to use emoji ironically, but they now are a regular part of my texting. My most used emoji is the eyeroll. What does that say about me?
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The last scene of the book, when Erin is leaving New Zealand, was very emotional for me, not only because her journey was so important, but also because I had to leave these characters behind. I truly enjoyed writing this manuscript.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Erin’s host father, Hamish, was truly difficult. We see him rarely, but he’s quite opinionated—with good reason. I had trouble keeping him a minor character while not making him appear flat.
YABC:Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
If I’m lucky, I have a novel to revise AND a novel to draft at any given time, so I get to choose between revising and drafting—both of which I enjoy a lot. I love the freedom of drafting and putting words on paper. Revising feels like less work to me—because I’m only fixing things that aren’t there—but I feel more of a need to get my words right.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Empathy. I dream of a world in which everyone imagines others complexly and empathizes with their pain and needs.
YABC:Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
There are many! Right now, I am most concerned with the pervasive racism and misogyny in our country. For centuries, we’ve fostered a system that favors white men above all others, and I’m working to raise the voices and improve the lives of women and people of color who have been silenced and discriminated against for too long.
Thank you for hosting me!
By: Michele Bacon
Publishing Date: April 3rd, 2018
Three winners will receive a copy of Antipodes (Michele Bacon) ~ US Only
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