Today's guest is Sophie Littlefield! I love her Aftertime series but Sophie also writes crime and YA fiction. Today she's here to promote her upcoming YA release, HANGING BY A THREAD, and she's reminiscing about her childhood summers. As part of her visit, the kind folks at Random House have offered up a giveaway copy of HANGING BY A THREAD, so make sure to obey the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. But first, you should get to know the delightful Sophie Littlefield a bit better. =) Enjoy!
Because HANGING BY A THREAD takes place over the summer in a seaside town where many people go to vacation, I had to think about how the high school students who live there might realistically spend their time.
For moms like me, there’s a change that takes place when your kids get to high school: for all the years that come before, January means a mad dash to get them into the sports camps and music camps and art camps and scout camps that will keep them busy all summer. You spend every evening filling out contact and medical forms and trying to balance everyone’s calendar.
Then suddenly they’re too old for all of that. Your job is done, and their job is – well, to find a job, or some other way to stay busy. I joined the chorus of the ages, sung by every parent of a high school student, that goes like this: “You are not going to lie around the house all day watching TV, mister/miss!” and which causes us to go into convulsions of shame because we never dreamed we’d sound that – well, frankly, old.
My kids managed to fill up their summers just fine. One goes up to the mountains and works in a scout camp, and I’m pretty sure we’re better off not knowing what he is teaching the little kids to do (this is a boy who can create fire from any two objects found in nature, given enough time). The other is so self-directed and goal-oriented we’re concerned it’s a rare disability – this summer’s goal is to be elected the governor of California (we think she means at Girl’s State, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the news in Sacramento).
But as I tried to come up with ideas for Clare and the other kids in HANGING BY A THREAD, I turned to my own experiences rather than my kids’. Because I wasn’t a “good kid” – I wasn’t much of an achiever in those days – but I did manage to keep things interesting.
I was very creative, but I didn’t have any money. I worked as a waitress (and I’m sure some future novel will feature a young waitress at a truck stop diner so I can make use of all the stories I accumulated there) but in my spare time, I sewed. Clare, in THREAD, turns vintage clothes into new pieces and sells them in a roadside stand. Where I came from, “vintage” wasn’t really prized – everyone had an attic full of old junk, and kids would much rather have new things in the latest styles. Also, we didn’t attract any tourists: there may have been well-heeled matrons from St. Louis or Kansas City who would have found one-of-a-kind pieces charming, but in our neck of the woods, wearing old things just marked you as too broke to afford new.
That was okay, though, because I could sew the hell out of anything I saw in stores. I’d go to the fabric store on my day off, and whip up some reasonable copy of whatever they had in the store windows.
My brother and sister were resourceful too. They put their time in on food service jobs, and stayed busy the rest of the time. I was just looking at some old pictures of Mike (now Mike Cooper, thriller writer) when he was in high school – one summer he rebuilt an entire stone patio in our back yard. He carried rocks that looked like they weighed a ton and mixed mortar in a wheelbarrow. My sister painted her room a sapphire blue I’ve been longing to recapture ever since. We helped our dad build a house, learning to frame and tape and mud the walls.
I’ve tried telling my kids about these hot Missouri summers, but it always comes out sounding like an uphill-both-ways rant (did I mention we didn’t have air conditioning?) It is true that we worked our asses off back then, but we also had a lot more freedom and, I think, some more vivid adventures than are available to my own kids, who – having control-freak me for their mom – are not allowed to be out after curfew or go anywhere without telling me first.
Back then, a five-minute bike ride took you out of town. I am pretty sure my dad never knew which dirt road, quarry, or strip pit we were hanging out at with our towels and suntan oil in the afternoons, or which roadhouse or field party (a bunch of pickups parked in a field, with coleman lanterns and beer, for the uninitiated) we were at during the long summer nights.
The idea of my own kids doing what we did fills me with terror. But I’m perfectly happy to subject my fictional characters to all kinds of danger. When I was inside Clare’s head, I saw how she thought of her mom: kind of pathetic, and really boring. That feels about right – I’m sure my kids see me the same way. But that’s why in young adult fiction, we authors push the parents gently to the side so we can get down to the real story: finding adventure wherever we can.
More about HANGING BY A THREAD:
The quaint little beach town of Winston, California, may be full of wholesome townsfolk, picturesque beaches, and laid back charm, but Clare Knight is about to uncover something underneath its thriving demeanor. Someone is hiding something, and it's as gruesome as the townsfolk, and their stately homes, are stunning. Amanda Stavros, fellow classmate and resident of Winston, is gone and there's no sign of her ever coming back. Everyone says she was taken and murdered, but where's the evidence? Why isn't there a single ounce of proof? And why is everyone okay with this, except for Clare?
Luckily—or as it's been turning out, unluckily—Clare possesses a gift, an ability to see visions from the clothes she works with. And since her clothes come solely from the townsfolk, Clare has become privy to some startling and disturbing memories of these townspeople. Will she uncover who killed Amanda Stavros? Or is she just moving herself up in line to be the next victim of Winston?
Other books by Sophie Littlefield:
The Aftertime series
The Hailey Tarbell series
The Stella Hardesty series
To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Ends Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal Summer Camp giveaways)
Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri. She is the winner of an Anthony Award and an RT Book Award for Best First Mystery. She is also an Edgar Award and Goodreads Choice finalist. She lives with her family in Northern California.