When I first decided to try my hand at contemporary YA, I went to my local library and asked the children’s/teen librarian for suggestions of who to read. I was thinking about writing a Southern character, so asked for recommendations of other Southern writers. She introduced me to Sarah Dessen. The first book of hers I read was Keeping the Moon. After that I read every Sarah Dessen I could get my hands on. I was totally taken by the stories and characters she crafts. I loved how the supporting characters had their own personalities and lives and seemed like real people.
When my own contemporary YA was written, I queried a total of eight agents. One of them was Sarah Dessen’s agent, Leigh Feldman. And to my extreme delight, she offered to represent me and got me a book deal with Viking, the same publishing house that publishes Sarah Dessen. This felt like such a gift to me. And I feel so lucky to be with a group that sets the bar high and expects the best of their writers.
It was a lot of work to bring my debut novel, BREATHING, to the world. But at every step along the way I was inspired by the work of Sarah Dessen. She writes stories we can all relate to, stories that are satisfying, fun, and healing. That’s an achievement any writer would be proud of. Thank you to Sarah for inspiring me and for sharing her stories with us all!
Cheryl Renée Herbsman’s debut novel, Breathing, made it’s splash on the YA scene this month. You can find out more by dropping by her website.
Tomorrow – Justina Chen Headley, author of North of Beautiful.