Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fall Girl and My Girl Marybeth!

Marybeth Smith
Over the summer I got to enjoy a few books, one of them being the book Fall Girl by my friend Marybeth from Meet Marybeth Post last year. If you haven’t heard of her before, let me introduce you. She’s a fantastic wife and mother of three who’s raising a son who has bipolar disorder. What intrigued me about her, besides her hilarious wit, was that she too lives with bipolar disorder. So from the beginning of our friendship she’s been a valuable resource for me in finding answers to symptoms that I didn’t understand. Since then, she continues to serve other families through a valuable website she created called Ask A Bipolar. Over the year, the site has expanded to include a handful of authors, who like Marybeth, have wisdom and experience they can share with others. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do it today!

The other thing that intrigued me about Marybeth was that she’s an author. So when I had the opportunity to read her first published book about a teen growing up with a brother who has bipolar disorder, I jumped on it! I have to say, even though I wasn’t her target audience, I had a lot of fun reading it and look forward to her next book.

As a special treat, Marybeth has agreed to do an interview with me about her new book, which by the way, when released was listed as the #3 top selling book on Kindle’s 100 list under children’s ebooks. Way to go Marybeth, I’m so proud of you!

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Thank you Marybeth for joining us today, for those who are new to my blog, can you share a little about yourself?
I am a perpetual perfectionist living out my daily life as an imperfect, bipolar mother of three little ones, my middle child also having bipolar disorder. In 2010, after coming across a post on Mama Bear’s website here, I was struck with an idea, so I put the idea in motion and founded the website www.askabipolar.com, where me and a group of authors suffering from bipolar disorder answer reader’s questions about mental illnesses. In my spare time I write, blog and design websites. Fall Girl is my first published novel, and I hope that one day, through this book and my website; I will be able to help bring an end to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Can you share a little about your book?
I wrote my book about a girl who’s brother and mother both suffer from bipolar disorder. I wanted to show the effects bipolar has on the family as a whole.

What made you want to write for a teen audience?
I am a perpetual teenager in my own mind. I read young adult, I write young adult and I hate to admit it, but on occasions I think and talk like one too. But that’s totally rare!

How did you get into the mind of a teenager to write this book?
I read old journals, LOTS of young adult fiction, and blogs written by teenagers. I suppose you could say I did my research.

Having bipolar disorder yourself, what made you decide to write a book about a sibling with bipolar disorder?
Well, I actually got the idea after my son was diagnosed. I was sitting there wondering what effect his illness would have on my other two children. And just like that, the idea was born. 

How did you research the sibling perspective?
I observed my children. Many of the situations in the story were loosely based around things which have actually happened. I also read support forums for siblings and family member dealing with someone with bipolar.

Were there any challenges you faced in writing this book?
There were many scenes outside of my comfort zone so I was constantly asking people, “Do you think this will offend people?” I’m not one to really use profanity, but I wanted to be true to my characters. And the kissing scenes... I’m so not good at writing kissing scenes!

What did you learn about yourself in writing a book from the sibling perspective?
I kinda somewhat felt guilty for having put my siblings through so much of the same stuff. I now have a much greater respect for them.

Did you gain a new perspective regarding your own sibling relationships?
I’m lucky enough to have very close sibling relationships as it is. But the one thing that did totally shock me was my sister’s reaction to the book. She said it was like she was hanging out with my brother back when they were teens. I never even considered what it must have been like for her hanging out with him so much, which was probably the most shocking part of all!

What was the greatest challenge in writing and publishing your first book?
Fall Girl was actually the third novel I finished, but the first one I published. Writing it was easy. The story pretty much wrote itself. It was what came after that was difficult. I originally started querying agents. The response wasn’t horrible, but I just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. On my previous novels I just up and moved on to the next book, but this novel... this one was too important to me. I NEEDED to get it out there. So I made the choice to self publish. It has definitely been a learning experience. I made MANY embarrassing mistakes, but in the future I think it’ll be much easier. But the greatest challenge so far is trying to find a way to get it into actual stores and libraries. It’s my current project.

What was the most rewarding experience?
Some of the responses I received. Especially the ones from teens who have thanked me for writing about this topic in such a realistic manner.

So, are you going to write a sequel?
I have to be honest and admit that I had never really considered a sequel. However, it has been made very clear to me that I MUST write one... SO yes, I’m in the process of plotting it out. There are some new characters, some old characters and a whole crap ton of drama. So much so that even I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it! Let’s just say that Annabelle will never be the same after everything that happens!

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Find Fall Girl (Kindle Edition) on Amazon for only $0.99:

Paperback version:

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