Author Showcase: Paige Agnew Talks About Starless Sky
By Paige Agnew, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 23, 2010
1. What are the three words that describe Starless Sky?
Encouraging, Inspiring, Serious while Entertaining.
2. What makes Starless Sky unique?
How many times have you read a book or seen a movie where a character dies and you can’t help but bawl your eyes out? (Never? Well then, may I recommend Nicolas Sparks? Great writer, but grab a box of kleenex). Because I have experienced my share of tears reading and watching movies, I wanted to write a story where I could tap into something as deep as death, but instead of leaving the reader in despair, I would portray hope. This makes Starless Sky unique.
3. Where did you get the idea for Starless Sky?
Sitting bored watching TV is when I generally come up with an idea for writing. I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a book about death that wasn’t entirely sad. In addition, the story gave me an opportunity to draw from my own very real pain of having recently loss someone I loved so much.
4. What advice can you give to a teenager who is grieving?
Talk about your loss, write about it if you are not a talker, but get it out somehow. Share your feelings with someone who can help you and that is not always peers as their knowledge may be limited regardless of how mature or well meaning. Ask to speak with a counselor for additional support. Know that the stages of grief and loss are not really stages that happen in a specific order; know that you are not losing your mind. Healing takes time and it is a deliberate process. Healing does not truly happen just because you will it. Mostly, I am saying, do not go through it alone – let others help you – take some time to be alone if needed but balance it with self care and support.
5. How old were you when you first started writing?
I honestly do not remember when I first started writing, but I do know when I became very serious about it and had a passion for it. I was in 5th grade and I absolutely loved writing stories. Sixth through eighth grade I attended the Young Author’s Conference in my city. I was delighted students had the opportunity to attend the conference. While I liked school, meeting authors and learning more about writing was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Each summer since 5th grade, I have spent every day writing and reading. My mother first bought tons of notebooks, then eventually my own laptop because she did not want to share with me (as she would never get equal time), and now I have flash/thumb drives to store all of my writing.
6. What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write is my love for books. Every time I read a good book, I think about my own, I think about how I can improve my writing skills, I think about how one day I want someone to read the final page of my book and just say ―wow the same way I do with others. I love stepping into others’ worlds in the realm of literature. I just hope other people enjoy the adventure as much as I do.
7. How do you develop the characters?
You can’t tell a story if you don’t know it. You have to play around with ideas inside your head and get to know your characters and their personalities. What would they say? What would they wear? Who would they hang out with and why? The more real the world is inside your head, the better it transmits to paper. When Kahlen first met Kennley at the creek, I had to ask myself who I wanted Kennley to be as a character. I wanted him to be a bad boy, but he seemed too nice for that. Okay. But why? Why would a bad boy seem good? Well maybe he used to be bad but now he’s not anymore. Well what changed? Hmm, I don’t know. And since I don’t know, I won’t let the audience know either. For now, let’s just make him…a mystery.
8. Is any of the book from your real life?
It is funny when people who know me think the book is all about my real life just because they know about the loss I experienced. There are bits and pieces that come from real people, but the book is not a replica of my life. For example, the ―Random game in the book comes from a game a friend and I made up while bored and waiting for track practice to come up. However, the character is not like my friend. Another example occurs when the parents and Kahlen go to the movie theater; in real life, we laugh about movies my dad wants to see. However, the parents in the story are not the same as my parents. Most genuine are the feelings of Kahlen; I felt those feelings and I experienced that pain when my friend died.
9. How do you remember to wrap up loose ends?
Sometimes tying up loose ends is easier than others. When preparing for my writing, my notes are very detailed; as I go along; I add and add and add to my notebook, making sure I keep those loose ends in mind. Sometimes the loose ends are so prominent in my mind that it just flows naturally in my writing and it’s not difficult at all. Overall, what helps is reading over my work for myself so I can catch my mistakes and think ―oh, that’s right. I still have to add this in.‖
10. What can you tell us about your next book?
My next book is titled Seven; it is a fiction, mystery, suspense-thriller. Seven tells the story of seven people whose lives come together because of a kidnapper. The story of each individual leads to the time they all come together. For example two characters are escaping an abusive childhood home and one character is an attorney without much direction. In the book there are clues (or things that appear to be clues) that mislead reader thus building the suspense. A common thread I have recognized in this book (as in Starless Sky) is self exploration among both the teens and the adults in the book. Each of the seven characters is forced (literally) to look at their own talents and lives in order to escape. Not all of them are willing. So, will they all be freed from the grips of the kidnapper? Want to know the answer? Great, read Seven.
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