I have to get this off my chest straight away: I adored this book.
Before we get to the interview, here's a little background information:
Shari Green writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She's in love with stories and the sea, and can often be found curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, or wandering the beaches near her home on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
Eleven-year-old Bailey believes in miracles. She had to; it will take a miracle to keep her warring parents together. This summer they are at a Marriage Counselling camp, leaving Bailey and her little brother Kevin with their estranged grandmother in the island town of Felicity Bay. There, an eccentric deposed minister makes a prophecy that a stranger from the sea will change everything. When Bailey discovers a mermaid-shaped piece of driftwood, she begins to believe that the mermaid is the stranger from the sea. Then, when a dolphin becomes stranded on the beach, Bailey forgets her own troubles and rouses the reluctant locals into action.
My take on the book:
This book, written in free verse, is a glorious portrait painted in words and images! This is a beautifully written book, one that acutely and compassionately addresses the powerlessness children feel when the adults in their lives make decisions that have profound impacts on them. I loved this book so much and I believe children will love Bailey and her story, too!
Now: On to the Interview!!!!
I loved Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles! Can you tell me about the genesis of the story?
I’d been thinking a lot about the extraordinary in the ordinary—Frederick Buechner said “all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace”, and that quote kept tumbling around in my thoughts. Meanwhile, I knew someday I wanted to write a “beachy book” in which I could indulge my love of the sea. And then this driftwood mermaid showed up in my imagination… ;-)
So much of the book involves Bailey looking for signs, looking for someone to help her. Can you talk a bit about why you wanted to address that feeling of powerlessness that children so often feel?
I think we all feel it, but maybe never as sharply as when we’re kids. Aren’t we all still looking for signs? for those moments that nourish faith, for things that help us keep hoping, keep believing that we’ll be okay, that life will turn out all right? Or maybe, that’s just me…heh.
There is a strong element of Spirituality, of faith, in your book. Spirituality is such an important aspect of all our lives and yet it is often not touched on in contemporary children’s literature. Why was that important for you to include and was there any push back from your publisher?
No push back at all from the publisher—my editor and everyone at Pajama Press have all been completely supportive of Bailey’s story. I wanted to include faith partly because it felt like the most honest way for me to tell this particular story, and partly because, as you said, it isn’t often addressed in books. Kids think about this stuff, just as adults do, so let’s talk about it.
I loved the character of Jasper and his prophecies (either real or perceived). Bailey wants to believe so much, and the rest of the town doesn't. Jasper was a real embodiment of seeing the world differently and a flash of supernatural in the book. It was such an amazing device in the story and such a lightning rod character. Can you speak to that?
I’m glad you loved Jasper! I think in real life we occasionally encounter people like Jasper—people who see things from a strikingly different vantage point—or we have an experience that gives us a glimpse of something that just might be supernatural. These encounters and experiences challenge us deeply. They shake up our beliefs and our worldview, and so we tend to respond strongly—be it in a positive or negative way.
One of the things I loved best about your book is that nothing is absolute. We are left with questions throughout the book, and wondering about motives. Was that a conscious decision while you were writing?
Semi-conscious? Haha. I like a little ambiguity in stories. I like leaving room for people to interpret things in their own way and draw their own conclusions. That said, I think when writing about faith or spirituality, there’s not a lot of room for absolutes. Life is full of questions.
The ocean is such a beautiful and vital force in this book – living where you live, I can’t help but assume that it is for you, too?
Absolutely! The ocean inspires me, humbles me, calms me, energizes me. I love it! ☺
This isn't your first book. What has been the most surprising thing for about becoming a published author?
That I can be creative on demand?? Haha! Deadlines and working on contract taught me a lot about process and persistence and priorities.
A lot of our readers are aspiring writers. What piece of advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
May I give three bits of advice? 1. Create something, put it out in the world, create something else. 2. Trust your gut, and believe that the stories you need to tell are worth telling. 3. Find your tribe.
What’s next? Will we see more of Bailey or are you working on something completely different?
Bailey’s story is done for now, unless she starts whispering in my ear again. For now, I’m working on a new middle-grade novel, due out in 2017.
And finally: is root beer candy your favorite???
Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is out OCTOBER 12th. I can't recommend it enough!
You can get your copies here:
Barnes and Noble
And to keep up with other news about Shari, and to learn more about her other books, visit her website: https://sharigreen.com/