‘Rewritten’ by Tara Gilboy
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Length: 200 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Hi everyone! Today I’m here to talk about ‘Rewritten’ by Tara Gilboy. It is under the Middle Grade genre, focusing on Gracie navigating through life after the adventures from the first book, ‘Unwritten’.
A few months ago, I reviewed ‘Rewritten’ on NetGalley, and I enjoyed it! You can read my review of ‘Rewritten’ here!
I had the privilege to speak to Tara about her process in creating ‘Rewritten’, as well as some handy advice for writers beginning their own creative journeys. I hope you enjoy!
Cathleen: Thank you for speaking with me! How are you holding up during this pandemic?
These are such crazy times!
Tara Gilboy: Thank you so much for having me! I am holding up pretty well. I think writers are
better suited than most for social distancing because we already spent so much time
alone, reading and writing, even before the pandemic. I’ve actually been busier than
ever the past few months: I also teach creative writing for San Diego Community
College District, and it’s been a lot of work converting my classes to an online
format. But I’ve also been careful to make time for myself: I’ve done a lot of hiking,
learned some new songs on the piano, finally perfected a homemade tartar sauce
recipe, and played waaayyy too much online Scrabble.
C: How did you get your start in writing?
TG: I’ve always wanted to be an author; ever since I learned to read, I’ve written stories.
The trouble was that I’d never met an author and had no idea how to go about
actually making this a career, so I lost sight of this goal a bit in high school. When I
returned to college in my twenties, I signed up for a creative writing class and was
immediately hooked once again. After college, I went on to complete a Master of
Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, wrote a novel that never sold, took more
workshops, joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, attended
conferences, joined writing groups, and most of all, wrote, wrote, wrote. It was
about ten years from the time I took that college creative writing class that I sold my
first novel, and along the way there were many, many failures and rejected
C: In ‘Rewritten’, Gracie takes charge of her own story after facing extreme
odds. What inspired you to create a story that follows a book character’s
TG: The Unwritten series didn’t start out with the idea to follow a book character,
actually. I only knew that my character was on the run from something, and I wasn’t
quite sure what. As I was writing early scenes, I was also doing a lot of jogging in the
woods near my dad’s cottage in northern Wisconsin, and I remember looking at the
trees as I ran and thinking that the forest looked like a fairy tale. Then I thought:
“what if my character was from a fairy tale?” I’ve always loved reading books with
fairy tale themes, like Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted and Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale
Dark and Grimm, so the idea immediately appealed to me. I didn’t quite realize then
how complicated and difficult this would be to pull off, which is likely a good thing,
because it might have scared me away from the project!
C: During ‘Rewritten’, I was fascinated with the Vademecum’s ability to
record one’s actions as they were occurring, like a ‘real-time’ diary!
TG: Thank you! As I was writing Rewritten, I was thinking a lot about what some of the
biggest struggles are for children Gracie’s age. Privacy is always a huge issue for
teens and preteens, and I thought: “what if someone had absolutely no privacy at
all? What if their worst enemy had a direct line to all their thoughts and actions?”
This might be one of the most terrible things that could happen to a teen, worse than
someone reading your most private diary. One of my creative writing teachers
always stressed: “dream up the worst thing that can happen to your character, and
then make that happen,” so I did. Poor Gracie!
C: I love that Gracie’s actions and choices are conveyed in a manner that
children can immediately relate to! Have you always felt that calling to
communicate with children?
TG: You know, it’s interesting, but when I’m writing, I’m not actually thinking about the
fact that I’m writing for children. I’m simply trying to really inhabit the mind of my
child protagonist and imagine how she would feel and react to the things that are
happening to her. If I’m being true to my character’s point of view, then I think I
naturally write and make choices that will be relatable for kids that age.
Occasionally, I will have to stop and remind myself that my story is geared for
children (for example, I struggled a bit in Rewritten with navigating the climax scene
in a way that wouldn’t be too frightening for readers), but for the most part, I just
try to write honestly and authentically and be true to my child characters.
C: What led to the decision to write for the middle grade genre?
TG: Middle grade books are my favorite books to read – middle grade is all about good
storytelling. They are the books that inspired me to love reading in the first place,
and so they have always had a special place in my heart. When I first started writing,
when I was in second and third grade, I started out writing middle grade, mostly
because that’s what I read. But then I grew up and went to college, and I developed
this idea of what it meant to be “Writer” with a capital “W” that involved lots of
black turtlenecks, exposition-heavy stories full of metaphors and symbols, and
words like “myriad” and “plethora.” I think I was in love with this “idea” of being a
writer, but at the same time, I had lost my sense of what I loved about writing in the
first place, which is that I love story. It was only when I took a class on writing
children’s books in graduate school that I reminded myself how much I loved
writing middle grade: the wonder, the sense of magic and adventure, the sense that
anything is possible in these books as long as you are telling a good story. I fell in
love with middle grade all over again and never looked back.
C: I love that there is a strong theme of mother/daughter bonds in
‘Rewritten’. Do you think you will continue on that familial thread in future
TG: I have a feeling that I won’t be able to avoid it, even if I try. I didn’t set out to write
about mother/daughter bonds, but it’s a theme that pops up again and again in my
work. I’ve had conversations about this with my writing group, as they often
experience the same thing. I think as women, the mother/daughter relationship is
one of the most complicated relationships we will ever have, and so it’s one that is
endlessly fascinating and provides rich material to mine.
C: I took some time to view your website. I love that your gift for the
written word began at a very young age!
TG: Thank you! Yes, I’ve always been happiest when surrounded by books. My mom
used to have to force me to go outside and play with the neighbor kids; otherwise I’d
have spent all my time reading. It wasn’t until I went to graduate school that I met
people who read and made up stories as much as I did. It was a relief to finally meet
other people just like me!
C: Who are your favorite middle grade authors, and why?
TG: Ooo, this is a tough question! I love Kate Di Camillo: I think her books are full of
wonder and magic and endearing characters, and I love how different all of her
stories are from one another. I also love Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me is one
of my favorite middle grades of all time), and some newer authors who have really
blown me away are Lisa Schmid, Ann Braden, Leslie Youngblood, and Amy
Makechnie. I think they do an amazing job of getting into the middle grade mindset,
as well as not being afraid to navigate difficult topics in a way that is appropriate for
readers this age.
C: What do you feel is your biggest challenge and achievement as an
TG: My biggest achievement so far was publishing Unwritten and then Rewritten.
Publishing a book was something I’ve wanted ever since I was seven or eight years
old, and so it was a pretty amazing moment the first time I got to walk into a book
store and see my book on the shelves. I remember being on vacation in New York
City and going into a Barnes and Noble and getting kind of teary when I saw my
book was there. But I also know that I hope to have many more writing
achievements, so I have to keep working at writing every day. Right now my biggest
challenge is finding the time to write amidst my work both teaching and managing
the business side of writing.
C: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
TG: One of my creative writing teachers once said something to me that’s always stuck
with me. She said (and I’m paraphrasing): “I’ve taught a lot of amazing writers over
the years, but in the end, it wasn’t the most talented ones that made it. It was the
ones who worked the hardest, revised the most, and didn’t give up.”
I return to her words again and again. There’s not much I can control about the
publishing industry, but I can control how hard I work and how much I revise. So my
advice is: don’t give up if you don’t succeed right away. Writing is hard! Keep
writing, keep taking classes and joining writer’s groups, and most of all… revise! My
books go through over 20 drafts before I send them out (and that’s a low estimate –
I actually lost count at 20). Don’t put pressure on yourself to write great early drafts.
I’ve seen a lot of writers give up because of that.
C: What projects are you working on next?
TG: Lately I’ve been starting and stopping a lot of projects, but I am working on a spooky
mermaid story that I am really having a great time writing….
C: Thank you for your time!
TG: Thank you so much for having me!
Come check out Tara’s website for more information on ‘Rewritten’!
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