Rockstar Tours: Author Chat with Jordan Sonnenblick (STEPPING OFF) Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the STEPPING OFF by Jordan Sonnenblick Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About The Book:


Author: Jordan Sonnenblick

Pub. Date: June 4, 2024

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 336

Find it: Goodreads 


Jesse Dienstag’s favorite sweatshirt
says, “The real world isn’t real.” That’s the slogan of the
vacation-home community in Pennsylvania where his family has always spent every
vacation and weekend for as long as he can remember. In the summer of 2019, as
Jesse is about to enter his junior year of high school in New York City, he
desperately wants to believe the slogan is true. For one thing, the two girls
he loves — equally and desperately — are in Pennsylvania, and all the
stresses and pressures of his daily life and school are in New York.

But when his parents stop talking to
each other, it gets harder and harder for Jesse to maintain his dream life in
Pennsylvania. And when Covid shuts New York City down in March 2020 just days
after Jesse’s mother leaves his father, Jesse’s worlds collide.




Author Chat with YABC:

  1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?


I had several inspirations. First, I was a public-school English teacher before my writing career took off, and I went back for a semester in the fall of 2021 to teach 10th-grade English in my old district because a teacher went on leave and the school couldn’t find a certified long-term sub. That was the first semester of real, full-time, in-person school after the pandemic shutdown, so I got to see firsthand the effects the lockdown had had on kids in high schools. Second, the love-triangle part is quite autobiographical; I wanted to capture the remembered intensity of those teenage feelings.


  1. Who is your favorite character in the book?


That would have to be Annie, the little sister of the main character’s best friend. She’s based on the real-life sister of my best friend from that time, and she and I were very close, as well. I just tried to capture her unique combination of warmth, sweetness, and blunt honesty. It’s always fun to write a character based on a person I know well in real life, because it’s such a challenge to nail those nuances.


  1. Which came first, the title or the novel?


Oh, the novel – by miles and miles! I’ve written fourteen books now, and never once have I come up with a decent title until at least a month or two after the first draft is finished. It takes that long for my unconscious mind to figure out what the novel was truly about!


  1. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?


There are a few. I like the July 4 fireworks scene a lot, because it’s so visual, and because of all the complicated relationship tensions that are brewing beneath the surface that night. I also like the opening scene, when the characters are building up their courage to jump off the bridge. When I was a kid in sleepaway camp, we really did jump off a high bridge into a lake in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and I think I captured the heady mix of excitement, peer pressure, and raw panic that jump entailed.


  1. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?


If we’re talking about the very beginning of my writing career, like when I was just coming up with the idea for my first novel, DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE, I think the main thing I’ve learned is not to panic. The whole time I was writing that book, I lived in constant terror that I’d get writers’ block and not be able to finish it. Once I had a couple of books under my belt, I started to feel that pressure lifting. I might not always be sure that what I’m writing is any good; that insecurity is very hard to banish. However, I’m usually around 93% confident I’ll finish writing any book I start.


  1. What do you like most about the cover of the book?


By far, my favorite thing about the cover of this book (and of each of my Scholastic YA hardcover editions) is that the designers always print a little Easter egg behind the dust jacket. I love peeling off the jacket and seeing the little surprise for the first time! In the case of STEPPING OFF, the Easter egg is a little exploding firework imprinted in the lower right-hand corner of the cover.



  1. What’s up next for you?


I honestly don’t know. I never know what idea is going to strike me. I just have to be ready to receive it when it comes along. For me, that’s the most magical part of writing. I never know what the Muses are going to throw at me next!


  1. Is there anything that you would like to add?


I think I feel a special sense of gratitude about the plot of this book, because while I thought my 17th year of life was incredibly difficult at the time, looking back on it now, I can see how much I learned and grew from it. Plus, I was delighted to find that, once I had fictionalized it quite a bit, it made a very entertaining story.


  1. Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate? It was really hard writing the scenes in which Jesse’s dad is suffering. In real life, my dad isn’t around anymore, so reliving how painful my parents’ breakup was for him was rough. Again, the specifics of the parents’ breakup are fictionalized, but the emotions are not.


  1. Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?


Honestly, none of the characters gave me trouble. Their voices spoke to me whenever I tuned in. That was part of the joy. I was shocked by how much better I understood the struggles and motivations of all the people I had been closest with as a teenager, now that I can look back from the vantage point of having been a husband, a father, and perhaps most importantly, a teacher and mentor to lots of kids.


  1. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?


Believe it or not, neither of these is my favorite. My absolute most beloved part of the writing process is the research I get to do. I learn so much! Through book research, I’ve studied everything from asthma to Zen Buddhism, which means I never, ever get bored, because each book opens up a whole new field of inquiry. For this one, I got to interview a bridge engineer and a paramedic – and that was just to get me through the first hundred pages.


  1. What would you say is your superpower?


This question is so eerily perfect for me, because I spent my whole childhood wishing and praying I’d get a superpower somehow. Unfortunately, I’ve never fallen into a vat of radioactive anything, so I’ve had to accept my destiny as a Muggle. If anything, my lack of special gifts might have given me a very useful non-super power: compassion.


  1. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?


Absolutely! Any organization that helps to fund cancer treatment or research is very important to me. I particularly like Alex’s Lemonade Stand, because one of their divisions, SuperSibs (, supports the brothers and sisters of childhood cancer patients. The sister of a cancer patient inspired my first book, so I will always support any group that helps those kids.



About Jordan Sonnenblick:


Sonnenblick is the author of the acclaimed Drums, Girls & Dangerous
After Ever AfterNotes from the Midnight DriverZen
and the Art of Faking It
, Falling Over Sideways, and The Secret Sheriff of
Sixth Grade. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two

Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of STEPPING OFF, US Only.

Ends July 16th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:



IG Post


Two Chicks on

Excerpt/IG Post


Books Central

Interview/IG Post



IG Post



Review/IG Post



IG Review

Week Two:



Review/IG Post/TikTok Post



IG Review



IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review


Lifestyle of



Danielle Davis

IG Review/TikTok Post




Week Three:


Book Reviews and Writing Aha’s

Review/IG Post


Country Mamas
With Kids

Review/IG Post



IG Review


Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic/TikTok Post



IG Review


The Book Critic

Review/IG Post



IG Review

Week Four:


for Insatiable Readers

Review/IG Post


Review Thick
And Thin

Review/IG Post


pick a good book

Review/IG Post


The Momma Spot



Fire and Ice

Review/IG Post


Two Points of

Review/IG Post


4 thoughts on “Rockstar Tours: Author Chat with Jordan Sonnenblick (STEPPING OFF) Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY”

  1. Ljhfike says:

    I just love that your favorite part of the process is researching. I feel like that would be my favorite part to… to the detriment of the story probably. I don’t think I’d ever get finished from falling into rabbit hole after rabbit hole.

  2. This book sounds so emotional and will help me understand what people went through when the pandemic hit.

  3. Sounds like a great book!

  4. madeleine says:

    Looks very interesting!

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