Paddy Eger Author Interview

Summer has become synonymous with reading and author interviews it seems. I am so excited to finally be interviewing and including West Coast author Paddy Eger to the group!

PE– Paddy Eger AS– ME

AS- I am so excited to finally be interviewing you! Your book 84 Ribbons was one of my first books to read and review last summer. You set the bar quite high for the rest of my summer reading. I am thrilled to say, you have once again set that bar! You are also now my farthest author interview/guest blogger all of the way out on the West Coast! Thank you for taking the time to chat.

AS Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have any thing in particular you like to have with you? Tea, specific music, candles, outside etc…

PE I’m one of those people who sits at a desktop to work. I have my cup of tea nearby and sip it when I’m   thinking about little problems or celebrating a well-written paragraph. Usually I prefer a quiet space,            except when I’m writing about ballets my dancers are preparing to perform. Then I play the music and often find professional ballet companies YouTube videos to watch. That really inspires me!

AS You are a Washington native. How do you think the environment influenced your writing?

PE Since I live in rain country, it’s easy to spend my time writing. I like including weather and our                landscape as part of my setting since I love the salt water, the mountains and our forests. For my ballet trilogy, I’ve based in here where I grew up.

AS In 84 Ribbons, book one of the ballet trilogy, I wanted Marta to step away from her comfort zone so I        sent her to Billings, Montana. Of course, I had to explore that area so my geography was accurate. I             even stayed on an older B&B to get the feel of living in a boarding house setting. I also drove around town and spotted a large house that could become Marta’s residence. I had fun drawing the floor plans of the various locations Marta visited.

PE In When the Music Stops, book two in my trilogy, I take Marta and her mom to my favorite ocean                 beach, Kalaloch. They share an important conversation there and I’m able to introduce readers to               that stretch of Washington beach as well.

AS Writing was not your first career, teaching was! How do you think that has impacted your writing? Was it a difficult transition?

PE I’ve always loved words: their sounds, the way they feel on my tongue and how writers use those same 26 letters in such creative ways. Among my ‘wordy’ past times are reading, word searches and writing my impressions of the world around me. I was one of those test-takers who loves essays and groaned at being put into selecting True-False boxes.

I taught primary grades most of my career. Reading with kids, playing word games and also reading aloud to the class made me happy. I still work in classrooms helping students with writing so you see, I didn’t completely leave teaching.

AS You do have educational work published. When did you realize that you might actually have a knack for writing fiction and go for it?

PE For several years I lead training for classroom volunteers so I needed to create my curriculum. That       was my first attempt to write a book. I enjoyed crafting the book so I went on to create accompanying          materials. About that same time, I friend of mine, who is a well-known author, invited me to take her    writing class. I needed a piece of fiction. Since I’d danced and still had interest in ballet, I decided to       write about a young dancer who wanted to become a professional.

My writing was adequate, but I knew little about writing fiction so I slaved through the class. When a   book agent met with me, she said she saw potential in my writing. That’s when I felt I might be able to create a short book. I was wrong. Turns out with over three hundred pages in my first book, I wasn’t done with my story. Once I realized I had more to say, I knew the writing bug had bitten me.

AS What steps did you take to make it happen? Education, workshops, networking etc.

PE My friend’s workshop got me started writing, but I knew I needed to learn more so I attended a local conference, Write On The Sound, joined a critique group and read articles and books on the craft of writing. I continue working to better my writing by attending classes and have added a second critique group. I write and read blogs and articles, network with writers and follow several writing information sources looking for ways to improve myself. It’s a full-time job!

AS How much of Marta, Lynne, Bartley and the others, come from your own experiences in the dance world?

PE– I tried to give my female leads my love of classical music and ballet. Since I danced for seventeen years, I know many of the basics of ballet; class warm up sequencing, performance issues and understanding the late 1950s when I also danced. I never had the opportunity to dance professionally, but I knew the types of issues dancers’ faced then (and now) from people I spoke with and biographies I read. Professional dancers assure me I’m correct in addressing the issues I’ve taken on in my ballet stories.

AS I just finished reading When the Music Stops but also read 84 Ribbons, which I LOVED. I know how hard it is to write a review on a sequel, but how difficult was it writing a sequel?

PE Writing a sequel was easy since I wasn’t done telling Marta’s story when book one ended. I always knew my story’s arc; I just didn’t know all the details when I started book one. Marta’s story came to me as a title with a rough outline in one day. Characters started popping up (some uninvited) and wanted to be part of my story, so I let them in. I feel they added depth to Marta’s life.

AS *SPOILER* Marta has a few love interests between the two books. How did you decide whom she ended up with? I really, really, liked Sam. I couldn’t tell you why, but I was disappointed that she doesn’t pick him! haha

PE I liked Steve. He fell in love with Marta almost from the moment he met her. I know he was a pain at      times, but I wanted him to end up with Marta. I liked their opposites: she barely finished high school                   while he was completing college when they met, he was spontaneous while she was guarded and        cautious.

When I started book two, I didn’t know what other guys would step into her life. I had great fun              writing Dennis (the jerk!) but knew that was not going to work! Then Sam appeared and I liked him a          lot. The more time he appeared, the harder it was to dump him, but I promised Steve he’d prevail.

AS The next installment follows Lynne across Europe. Have you ever had the chance to travel to some of her stops?

PE Lynne story is totally based on places I visited on trips to Europe. Actually it was on one trip while I was writing 84 Ribbons that I decided Lynne needed a book and I started writing notes to myself about what I enjoyed in the small villages especially. As Marta’s brash sidekick, I wanted to share here story. She seems so upbeat and together when she’s in books one and two. In Letters to Follow-A Dancer’s Adventure, book three, we’ll open the curtain on her life and also tie up loose ends for Marta.

AS What is the best advice you have been given as a writer thus far?

PE Write, write, write. Sit down every day and write. Like all skills, you need to practice, practice, practice. Most of what you write will be questionable; some will be worth keeping. For now, save it all. Tidbits of ideas often lead to inspiration later on.

ALSO: Anna, I want to thank you for interviewing me. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my books and main characters. After spending so much time together they feel real to me. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Thank you for writing reviews for both 84 Ribbons and When the Music Stops. Hearing what readers think of our stories help us develop our craft.

To learn more about Paddy and her writings, visit her website http://www.paddyeger.com. You can also find her on Pinterest, Good Reads, and Twitter.

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When the Music Stops- Paddy Eger

84 Ribbons was my first read and book review for NetGalley. You can find that review HERE.

I have waited ALMOST an entire year for the sequel When the Music Stops by Paddy Eger. It was well worth the wait. I read the entire book in one sitting today…my Kindle app says that it took me about 3 hours. I am obviously off my game reading that slow. haha.

Since it had been a while between books, it took me a little bit to re-acquaint myself with the characters, but it was not really much of an issue. Being a sequel, it is REALLY hard to talk about the book and what choices are made and how Marta continues on her journey without giving anything away. I mean, I can’t tell you about her relationship with Steve, I can’t tell you about her professional dance career choices, I can’t tell you about teaching- I CAN’T TELL YOU ABOUT ANYTHING! It is insanely hard to write a review on a sequel. They don’t teach you how to do this in college.

In typical Anna Reading Fashion, I had at least 3 mini-meltdowns where I shook my iPad in my hand going “GAHHHH DON’T DO THAT! PICK THIS NOT THAT!!!!” Eger easily kept me on my toes throughout the book. I actually thought I had guessed the ending, told my mom, got to the ending and was pleasantly surprised that I was WRONG! This is a very important fact because reading has been dry for me of late. You can read about THAT soap box HERE. So kudos and thank you Paddy for throwing me off of my book predicting game!

There are a few tweaks I would have done, had I written the book. There is a build up with her addiction to diet pills. I was expecting a different outcome with the issue. It was such a huge part of the first book and even in the second, it was a steady line in the plot. I was just disappointed for some reason.

I got kind of annoyed with Steve. I mean, he was a nice guy and everything, but I felt like her relationship with him had way too many issues for it to all end the way that it did. I’ll say it, I am 100% team Sam all of the way. 

I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. She could have easily continued on a bit longer and I would have been completely satisfied. After having invested so much into these characters, I didn’t want the book to end. One minute Marta is dancing; the next she is sending a wedding announcement. I needed an in-between, an epilogue….SOMETHING to feed my curiosity!

Reading these two books has made me wish I’d never left dancing. I also rarely have the itch to find an adult class and sign back up the way I have with these books. It was like I was able to live vicariously through Marta with the barre exercises and pirouettes. I loved this book for the same reasons that I did the first, the ballet, the time period component and the ability to so easily relate to the characters. I played field hockey for 10 years. After walking off of the field my senior year of high school, I really had not had the opportunity to play since. Last summer I had the chance to play on my mission trip in Northern Ireland and the feeling was remarkable. I understood Marta in a way that so many others can easily identify with as well. For a time, it was like the music had stopped in my own life. I was unsure of how to fill my time and space. But, as Marta, I learned how to adapt.

I have already recommended both books to a few of my dancer friends since finishing the second installment just a few short hours ago. Though I am sad that the third installment will not focus on Marta and her adventures, I am super excited to follow Lynne through her next steps in life in Letters to Follow (Coming Soon). Both 84 Ribbons and When the Music Stops would be perfect additions to any summer reading list, for girls of (almost) any age!

To learn more about Paddy, her other works, upcoming pieces etc, visit her website at http://www.paddyeger.com.

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The Hatmaker’s Heart- Carla Stewart

Sometimes you just need a feel good book. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from reality and step into someone else’s.

Carla Stewart did a brilliant job with this novel. As has created a story with a few of my favorite elements.

1. HISTORY! I have a serious problem, if you haven’t been able to deduct this from my previous book reviews then you might want to go take another look. This novel takes place in 1920’s New York and it is splendid. Absolutely lovely. To give it another layer of depth, she throws in some London, England in there too. Which leads me too…

2. ENGLAND! I love how she incorporated England into the main character’s life, the plot AND threw in the royal wedding. Kudos and extra points for that one. Having just had a royal wedding a few shorts years ago, it was super relatable for me.

3. Relatable characters. Prunella was darling. There are so many things I liked about her character. Her innocents, her passion, her integrity, her faith, her love and loyalty to her family and friends- she was a breath of fresh air. How lovely to have a female be her own hero and not be a cotton headed ninny muggins. Yup. I said it. Everyone has dealt and come across people like the characters in “The Hatmaker’s Heart” in their life. The nasty boss, the cruel girl in school, the first love of childhood, the crazy relatives, the beloved grandmother- it’s like walking out of your life and comfortably walking into someone else’s.

This was such a great read. I read it in a few hours. It was refreshing to read a book that was appropriate in language, plot, and romance. The ending was just so right. There’s something to be said about reading a book that really does just have a happy ending for everybody, even if it does seem fantastical and silly. But, what girl doesn’t want to see love win out in the end?

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Queen Of Someday-Sherry D Ficklin

I can add this to my list of historical fictions. I have a serious problem. And this book is good. It is a great disservice to be such a history nerd. I feel like sometimes it ruins reading historical fiction works. I know too much about the realities of the lives of these people to get too attached to their fictitious representations.

There are a number of things I really liked about this book and a few that I didn’t. Obviously I loved the fact that it’s historical. Catherine the Great is somebody whom I have only more recently taken an interest in. However, being the great ruler that she was, this is not the first time she has come across my radar. Ficklin used great, graphic wording to describe the world of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. There is the perfect swirl of romance, danger, fun, passion, fire and ambition. So much is known about the Great Empress, but it is her youth, and beginnings in the strange courts of Russia that Ficklin has chosen to zero in on.

Other than the ebook version being a bit wonky with its layout and just not very good, the flow of the book itself was great. It kept pace. At no point did I feel the need to put the book down or take a break. I didn’t necessarily find myself tearing through it to find out what would happen next either. It was a leisurely read that was perfect for lounging on our porch swing this evening.

Over all, I wish the characters had shown a bit more dimension and dynamic growth. It is obvious that this is a first book in a series and I get that. The scene and the foundation must be laid for all involved. I could tell that Ficklin really wanted to show a change and growth in Sophie (Catherine), but I felt that it fell just a bit short of her goal. Granted, most of the characters aren’t supposed to have much dimension, that IS the point. As the rest of them stay stagnant, it is Catherine who is to rise to the occasion. I found myself unable to quite connect to Sophie/Catherine in my usual immersive way. I am hoping in the next book, her transformation from naive, young woman will more fully blossom to her full potential.

I am certainly looking forward to Sherry Ficklin’s next installment in Catherine’s story. I would recommend this to my students being that is it “clean” as far as sexual and lexicon content are concerned. It was an entertaining read and enjoyable as far as summer reads go.

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The Revealed- Jessica Hickam

I didn’t mean to read this book in one solid sitting. I trudged into bed at 12:30am and thought “I’ll just read a few pages.” I checked the clock at 1:30 and kept on, I checked the clock again at 2:15. I checked the clock after I finished the book and it was 4:30.

I recognized relatively early on that this was going to be a series, or at least more than one book. Which, in this case was a good thing. It gave me time as a reader to build a relationship. At first, I thought this book was just going to be Lily being a temperamental young adult falling in love with the bad boy the entire book. Throw in some “new world order” and you’ve got what you THINK is something like The Selection Series. You’re wrong.

Lily was a completely relatable, endearing character. Struggling under house arrest, dealing with being in the spot light and the constant threat of life combusting around her, she handles it all like a real teenager would. Screaming, crying and kicking the whole way. But she is strong and destined for greater things.

Kai is the bad boy you want to love. You want to love Kai just as much as Lily does. You want to trust him, you want to believe he will be the prince charming and good guy. He is a surprise at every turn and by the end of it I was absolutely in love with him. It happened.

The Revealed are this big scary monster the entire book. When they show up the first time, you can’t breathe. You hold your breath and tell everyone to run. When they show up the second time, you’re a bit more prepared. But not really.

Rory and Skylar are probably my two favorite characters in the book. Both are supportive characters and Skylar doesn’t even show up until the last quarter or so of the book. I can’t wait to see what happens to them in the following book(s?). Rory is Lily’s spitfire friend that becomes an increasingly more important player in this twisted game of life. Skylar is the….other male character? He’s not quite a love interest, but I have a sneaking suspicion that in later books he could be. He’s definitely a friend, almost a mentor and an all around nice guy. It doesn’t help that he’s super attractive.

This was just an all around solid book. The characters have dimension, there are twists and turns, but it’s not overwhelming. I don’t have an obnoxious book-hangover. I am excited and can’t wait for the next book to be released but it hasn’t overwhelmed my life. Hickam has left just enough to the imagination, just enough questions, just enough things left open to have drawn me in. I am totally ready for the second book. I feel like if I didn’t get to read the second book that I would be ok. BUT I fully intend on reading the second book. I am super excited to see how Lily’s life continues!

The Revealed would be a great book for my students. Not too much, not too little. Not too long or too short. Just enough action, romance, and drama to keep you interested. It is easy to get enamored with these characters and long to know what happens next. But I guess we’ll just have to wait for that to be revealed. 😉

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The Beginning of Everything-Robyn Schneider

The pace in which I am reading is scaring even me. I don’t think I’ve read with such ferocity, purpose, pleasure and just downright passion since middle school. Before life got more complicated than hoping you didn’t have food stuck in your braces talking to your crush.

The Beginning of Everything was part of my library binge Part I. I finished a real book, then a Net Galley book. I figured I would read another real book. Space them out a bit. I laid out the 6 remaining books I have from the library and just kind of picked it. Yellow is one of my favorite colors so that may have been why I subconsciously picked it. I read the back of the book which jogged my memory as to why I had picked the book to begin with- it was young adult.

Having felt as though I skipped that genre when I was in high school, the time period most of those books are aimed towards, I am going backwards so that when I am back in a lovely high school classroom I can give good, well thought out, competent recommendations for my students. Let’s face it, not everyone thinks Much Ado About Nothing is “fun” or “hilarious” they way I do.

It started out simply enough. I read this awful book in middle school called “Izzy Willy Nilly” about a girl who is in a drunk driving accident and looses her leg. The beginning of this book kinda goes along the same way, but not near as dramatic. Probably because the main character is a boy, Ezra; NOT a whiny, hopeless teenaged girl.

I don’t quite know how to explain the connection. There’s romance in a way that’s not over the top cheesy or gross. More like “falling asleep, slowly then all at once.” There’s just enough mystery to keep you guessing without getting annoyed that the answers aren’t happening as you demand them. There’s a vulnerability that is so spot on. Where do you sit at lunch? Who do you talk to in class? Who is going to be your partner? It’s raw and it’s real. I feel like everyone went to high school with at least one kid that was a super star athlete, popular the works and they are injured in a game or something and suddenly the status quo of the world seems to shift as we all sit and wait to see if they recover, if they bounce back, how everyone else reacts. Ezra, was that kid.

The book opens with two quotes that really set the tone of the book.

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The Great Gatsby is one of my all time FAVORITE books. Schneider references Fitzgerald brilliantly. Most of my giggling was in tandem with the references. Ezra has a Standard Poodle named Cooper. He’s and older dog and Ezra has assigned Cooper the personality of Jay Gatsby. Schneider had me giggling to myself and my poor dog. Until the end. Then I bawled like a baby. It would be remiss of me to leave out the Doctor Who references, THE MONTY PYTHON REFERENCE and so many others that made my little nerd heart oh so dearly happy!

Hilariously enough, in the UK the book was released with the title “Severed Heads and Broken Hearts.” Once you read the book you’ll laugh way harder at that than you really should.

I can’t wait to recommend this to my high schoolers. This was an easy and quick read. I read it in about 3 hours. To do that math, that’s about 111-112 pages an hour. I believe that regardless of whether or not you are a “jock,” “a nerd,” “the ‘not out of the closet but pretty sure you’re going to be’ kid,” or the kid that ends up “crippled,” there is something in this book to be taken away for everyone.

I liked that this didn’t have the classical “happy ending” like a Disney movie, and yet, I feel happy. Like the book ended exactly as it should have. I’m not even mad. 🙂

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The Fault In Our Stars

Cancer sucks. No, really. It does. I grow my hair for the specific purpose of donating it every other year or so, it’s my little contribution. Each time I am about to do the big chop I donate my hair in honor or in memory of someone in my life that has been affected my cancer. The last time I donated, I had 4 different people in my life either currently fighting or just ending their fight with cancer I could decide to do it in honor of.

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Shelly is like my second mom. She is a breast cancer survivor with a genetic mutation in which her body will always have cancer. She is in the process of having a mass removed from her shoulder and underwent brain surgery to remove cancer that had spread to her brain. The last time I donated was in honor of her.

It sucks.

And John Green in no uncertain terms lets you into that little world to remind you of that.

John Green also reminds you that life isn’t fair. With the turn of almost every page.

John Green reminds you that life and love are beautiful. Every year. Every month. Every week. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. It is beautiful. It is terrifying. It isn’t fair. It is emotional. It is a gift.

Through the unique relationship of Gus, Hazel Grace, and their friend Isaac, John Green opens the box of what living and fighting cancer is like. He puts life into perspective. The characters reference great pieces of literature, even going as far as visiting the author of Hazel’s favorite book. There is a depth and emotional connection to this book that is precious in young adult literature. Cancer only seems to happen to little cute children and adults. Sometimes it seems like the invincible teenagers can’t be touched by the disease. But Green reminds us that they are. I read this book in about a day. I cried like a big ole baby and I’m not even a little ashamed. I couldn’t stop reading. I rushed through meals. I had to know how it ended. And I hated when it did. Every last word that wasn’t said- I HATED IT. Yet somehow, I sit here, looking back at my reading experience and know that I loved every single moment. It was beautiful. Even if it didn’t have a happily ever after with wedding bells and a cute little ending wrapped up in a pretty bow.

Hazel taught us that sometimes you can’t stop love. It happens like falling asleep. That sometimes, no matter how hard you try to keep from being hurt and hurting people, hurt happens anyway. That sometimes, books need a bit more to be truly finished.

August taught us that life is beautiful. That promises are worth making. Even if that means standing by the mean girl with a horrible brain tumor. Even if that means falling helplessly in love with a girl and sharing your last wish with her. Even when that means you hope she goes first so that she doesn’t have to live through the pain of you leaving her.

Isaac taught us that life isn’t fair. Sometimes people don’t always mean “Always” when they say it. Sometimes, just because you can’t see doesn’t mean you can’t see the world. Isaac is a true friend. August stood by him when he needed it most and when August needed someone in return, Isaac was that person to the best of his abilities.

The Fault In Our Stars reminds us that life is a beautiful, precious mess. It reminds us that sometimes, the best word to express your feelings is “Okay.”

This was a relatively quick read because I couldn’t put it down. Definitely one of those books that middle schoolers or adults could learn and get something out of. I hate seeing movies before I read the books so I knew I had to read this and I am glad that I did. I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone.

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