“Jasmine can easily be related to and she pulls at your heart strings throughout the entire story.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers
About Beneath the Distant Star: Jasmine knows her very existence reminds her mother of something her sister will never have—life. Craving love and acceptance, Jasmine struggles to become her own person, and her fragile relationship with her mother shatters. Jasmine needs to survive the darkest of nights in this bittersweet tale of hope.
Lisa Shambrook discusses her latest release, Beneath the Distant Star, and shares her inspiration for the Surviving Hope novels.
Why did you write Beneath the Distant Star? Beneath the Distant Star was conceived on a train journey when I wrote the first chapter on a scrap of paper and then stuffed it into my bag and forgot about it. Two years, or so, later, after finishing Beneath the Rainbow and Beneath the Old Oak, I discovered the bunched-up scrap stowed away in a drawer, and I knew exactly who the story was about. This was Jasmine’s story. I’d already written her sister, Freya’s story, and this one would tell how her family had coped and how Freya’s loss weighed heavily on Jasmine – the sister who could barely remember her.
What is the message you hope readers will take away? Hope itself threads through each of the Surviving Hope books, and is something we all need to deal with the difficulties and trials of life. These books dig deep into emotions we all feel, but perhaps these anxieties are felt deeper by those going through their teens, and I hope they strike a chord and offer courage where we often feel despair.
Why is it important to address emotions, grief, and bullying in books for young adults? It’s vital that themes experienced by young adults are tackled and covered in books with grace, realism, and compassion. I’ve never talked down to my own children and I would never patronise in my writing. Young adults are often wrongly targeted by older generations for being lazy or privileged, and I find that kind of condescension hugely offensive. Their world is different and they fit it as they should, we must too.
What do you enjoy most about writing YA? I recall my teens with angst and high emotion—and they weren’t the best years of my life —but reading books that I related to made it better. I want to be able to do the same.
Do you have a favourite character in the series? I relate on a personal level the most to both Meg and her mother, Martha, in Beneath the Old Oak, but my favourite character is Jasmine in Beneath the Distant Star. She’s my wild card and I wish I had her confidence and freedom of expression!
What encourages you to write with emotive description? I’m an observer in life and I feel everything. On trips I stare out of windows and notice everything: a heron on a passing lake, flowers in the hedgerow, cloud formations. I notice people, expressions, and emotions, and these transfer to my writing. It’s the little things that count.
What particular genre do you like to write, for example romance, fantasy? I’m a bit of a contradiction. I love writing YA because all ages can relate. The Surviving Hope novels are infused with emotional realism, overcoming grief, and mental health issues, but intertwined with dreams and triumph. My current projects are fantasy adventure, magic, and dragons, but they are also threaded with hope and the desire to overcome. I love writing flash fiction which delves into as many different genres as possible. It’s fun to explore, but my heart remains with YA and fantasy.
What do you love and what are the worst parts of writing? I love losing myself in my words, worlds, and imagination. I write to escape. The worst part is finding time. I have to set myself specific time to write as real life and responsibilities often gets in the way!
How would you describe yourself? I’m a dreamer who loves dragons. I’m an empath, so I feel everything deeply, which helps with writing because it means I can understand many characters and put myself in their skin. I’m also an introvert who finds socialising incredibly difficult – I’m happier at home writing, reading, or painting.
What is your life like beyond writing? I have two daughters and a son, a husband, two cats who can’t stand each other, and a neurotic German Shepherd—it’s all go! My children are all adults now. I love all creativity and run an Etsy shop, Amaranth Alchemy, rescuing old, worn, torn, and abandoned books and turning them into unusual gifts. I have a passion for anything creative – painting, photography, writing, and I recently discovered pottery. Life is creative.
Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? I’m a bit of a Tolkien freak, but my most favourite author right now is Garth Nix. I adore The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix, but most of all Lirael. Lirael is a character I truly relate to and she has magic and adventure at her fingertips.
Who would play you in the movie version of your life story?
Emily Blunt. I love everything she’s been in.
Published by BHC Press, books in the series include Beneath the Rainbow (trade softcover 978-1-947727-41-0, 176 pages, $12.95; ebook 978-1-947727-88-5, $6.99), Beneath the Old Oak (trade softcover 978-1-947727-42-7, 216 pages, $12.95; ebook 978-1-948540-06-3, $6.99), and Beneath the Distant Star (trade softcover 978-1-947727-43-4, 196 pages, $12.95; and ebook 978-1-948540-07-0, $7.99). Available at fine booksellers and retailers everywhere, including Waterstones and Barnes & Noble. Order direct from Ingram, OverDrive, or publisher.