Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Delightful Debutantes #9: Sara Bennett Wealer & Rival!

Today's Delightful Debutante is Sara Bennett Wealer, and let me tell you, Sara really is a delight!  Sara was one of the first authors I contacted in relation to Delightful Debutantes and she was so, so, helpful in helping me spread the word about Delightful Debutantes! Rival goes on sale next week, February 15th. I've already read some wonderful reviews for this book, and I'm looking forward to checking it out!

Can you describe Rival in just one sentence for my readers?

RIVAL in one sentence: Two girls—once friends, now enemies—prepare to go up against each other in a major singing competition while dealing with school pressure, family issues and romantic troubles. 

As a soon to be published author life must be very exciting right now! Can you tell me about your path to publication and also tell me how your life has changed since your book sold?

My path to publication was as long and bumpy as it is for most debut authors. I wrote one book that sucked, then wrote RIVAL and landed an agent. Decided agent wasn't the right fit, wrote another book and landed current agent. After almost selling the new book, we decided to give it a rest and tried RIVAL. It snagged the interest of my current editor, who asked for revisions before making an offer. Total time from start of writing very first novel to book deal? About 8 years! Since getting the deal my life hasn't changed all that much, except that I'm much more busy. Oh, and I no longer have any fingernails--I'm that nervous about my book launch! 

I love the cover art for Rival. It’s quite striking and really stands out. What does the cover image represent to you?

It’s funny because when my editor emailed asking if I had any thoughts for the cover of RIVAL, I almost said, “Whatever you do, don’t put a flower on a piano keyboard.” I didn’t want the book to look like a Successories poster. So when I saw the cover for the first time, my initial reaction was, “Hmmm…” But I love the black, white and red color scheme, and the flower is so pretty – it’s the kind that appears in the bouquet that the winner of the big music competition receives, and the plucked petal sort of represents the damage to my main characters’ relationship. I’ve gotten so many compliments on the cover that I feel like I should send the designer a “thank you” card. 

 Kathryn and Brooke in Rival are both accomplished singers and involved in the music world. Can you name three songs you would pick for a Rival playlist?

I actually have a playlist for RIVAL on my website. You can find it here:  http://www.sarabennettwealer.com/rival_playlist.shtml.  “Cornflake Girl” and “Bells for Her” by Tori Amos really speak to the relationship between Kathryn and Brooke. “Sing” by Travis sort of sums up the book, I think. 

I haven’t heard too much about the boys in Rival. Can you tell me if there are any hotties in Rival that will be making it on to my all important book crush list?

There are definitely hotties in RIVAL! A lot has been said about the music angle of the book, but I want people to know that it’s not the sole focus—RIVAL is really about the girls’ lives as a whole, which include boys. There are two that Brooke and Kathryn sort of feud over: Miles Monaghan is the bad boy who helps spark the tensions between them, and John Moorehouse  is the sweet and sensitive jock who asks Kathryn to Homecoming. Then there’s Kathryn’s best friend, Matt—he’s your all-around great guy, a fanboy-type who’s always got her back, even when she doesn’t really deserve it. 

Can you recommend a 2011 debut that you think everybody should read and also let me know what you are reading at the moment?

I’m going to recommend another contemporary realistic novel with an arts angle: Jessica Martinez’s VIRTUOSITY is about a violin player, and it sounds really, really good. And of course I’m a member of the Elevensies, where you can find awesome debuts to satisfy any taste. Right now, I’m reading two books by my fellow Contemps: Kody Keplinger’s THE DUFF and Daisy Whitney’s THE MOCKINGBIRDS

Can you tell me what you are working on next?

My next published piece will appear in an anthology put out by HarperCollins in the fall, called DEAR BULLY. I’m really proud to be a part of that project, which raises funds for a national anti-bullying program. I’ve got two other contemporary novels that my agent is shopping around, and then I just started a semi-dystopian project, in addition to one that has what I consider a strong supernatural element. I’m busy!  

Sounds like exciting times ahead! Thanks so much to Sara for the truly great Q&A! Don't forget to pick up a copy of Rival when it releases next week!

You can also:

Read Sara's Blog
Follow Sara on Twitter


  1. I cannot wait to read Rival! I'm working on a segment for my blog and Sarah was one of the authors i interviewed, and she is SUCH a nice person! Great post!!! :)


  2. Rival sounds like an intriguing book! I love the songs that the author has chosen for the book playlist.
    Great interview! Thanks!

  3. Great interview! I am looking forward to reading Rival. Good to know that there are some hotties in Rival. :) Thanks for sharing all this info with us!

  4. Heya! Thanks for featuring me! It's fun to be a debutante! :-)

  5. this one sounds great!! love the cover too!

  6. Can't wait for Rival. I love books where music is a important part of the storyline. I am also excited there is some romance in there too. Great interview :)

  7. Great Interview. I am excited to read Rival and have had it pre-ordered since I joined the Contemp Challenge last fall. I am also excited about Sara's book on bullying as I am always looking to add books that deal with this horrible phenomenon that is a cancer in our schools. Thanks!

  8. That's so funny that she immediately thought "no flower on the keyboard" for the cover only to have that be exactly what they decided to try first. I actually didn't even see the keys at first, I just saw bold black and white graphics (duh) and I loved it just when I thought that's all it was. I like it even more now that I've stopped being challenged and see the keys:) Great interview!

  9. Great interview! I'll be looking for her book!

  10. Fantastic interview! This is the first I've heard of Rival... I'll definitely be adding it to my list of books To Be Read. And I love the cover!

  11. LOL, it is funny that the designers chose as a cover image exactly what she didn't want! Thanks for the interview, it's got me more interested in Rival now (and also Virtuosity, which sounds similar in theme).


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