Angela Morrison is the author of Taken by Storm, and the soon to be released Sing Me to Sleep! She was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions I had about her books and writing. But first, here is my review of her beautiful new book!
Sing Me to Sleep
Beth has always been the ugly one, cursed with the worst genetics when it comes to her appearance. But, she can sing beautifully, and it is her Bliss Youth Choir and her best friend Scott that help her make it through the cruelties of high school. When her choir is chosen to travel to Switzerland to compete in the Choral Olympics, Beth gets a complete high-tech makeover, courtesy of Meadow, a fellow, rich member of her choir. Finally feeling pretty for the first time, Beth attracts the attention of Derek while abroad, and they are ecstatic to discover that they don't live too far away from each other back home. But their romance at home is much more complicated--Scott confesses his love for Beth, but Beth loves Derek, despite the fact that he is hiding something big from her...he's dying.
Sing Me to Sleep, Angela Morrison's second novel, is simply told with an immense amount of depth. Beth's story is one that really grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go. Morrison writes mainly in prose, a slight change from her first novel, Taken by Storm, but song lyrics are sprinkled liberally throughout. Her descriptions are beautiful and accurate, making you feel as if you are right with Beth in Switzerland, on stage, or at the hospital. The romance in Sing Me to Sleep was perfect as well: it captured all of the passionate, pure feelings of first love and was steamy yet chaste. Through her relationship with Derek (and to a certain extent, with Scott too), Beth really did make peace with who she is and can be, and she learned that you don't have to be perfect to love or to be loved.
The emotions run strong in this book. Both bright and sorrowful, Sing Me to Sleep will have you sighing in content and crying. Grief is a kep part of the book, and as Beth learns, in love too. She must learn to let go, and to have hope. Morrison certainly makes you smile as Beth undergoes her transformation and then cry for her and Derek and their relationship. This sweet novel is touching, poignant, and hopeful, and for fans of her previous book, Morrison certainly does not disappoint. I'm breathless with anticipation to see what she comes up with next.
Cover Comments: I think this cover is beautiful--perfect for the book! The colors are soft, and the snow and the brushing hands just so lovely. It's such an accurate indication for what the story will be like.
ARC received from publisher.
AM: My daughter sang with the Junior Amabile Singers (see www.amabile.com) in London, Ontario, Canada. My knowledge of the competitive youth choir world comes from watching her and volunteering with the choir. It was a fantastic experience. I took notes all the time because I thought it would some day make a great setting for a novel. Voila! That day is here.
TCR: There are so many different places described in Sing Me to Sleep; have you been to them all?
AM: I have. We lived in London, Ontario for years. Then we moved to Switzerland. We got to enjoy that gorgeous country for four years then we moved to Singapore. I wrote SING ME TO SLEEP from our high-rise apartment in the tropics. I tend to go back to places I'm homesick for in my writing. My debut novel, TAKEN BY STORM, is set in my hometown and high school.
I've visited all the Michigan sites mentioned, but I don't know them that well. I researched them via the internet to fill in the holes of my memory. I found great video on YouTube, used Google Earth, and even real-estate sites to choose Beth's house in "Port," Michigan.
TCR: What was the hardest part about writing Sing Me to Sleep? The easiest?
Hardest? The lyrics. My first attempts were a disaster. I listened to tons of songs, started dissecting them. I made myself maps of the structure (rhythm and rhyme) and filled in the blanks--like you would a sonnet.
Easiest? Beth's voice. It was just there--pure and strong, talking in my head. Michael's voice, from TAKEN BY STORM, came to me like, too. But poor, Leesie, STORM's heroine. I couldn't get her voice right until I let her tell her side of the story in poetry.
TCR: In Taken by Storm, you wrote entirely in poems and a journal format, and then Sing Me to Sleep was simple prose with song lyrics sprinkled in. Do you prefer one format over the other?
Beth's voice was so strong that I let her tell the whole story in a strict, never to be violated, first-person narrative. That way the reader gets inside of the story and never has to let go. With a single, intimate first-person narrator, the reader experiences all the pain, embarrassment, love, frustration, and devastation along with Beth. It is the ideal way to write a coming of age novel.
TAKEN BY STORM started out as a dual first-person narrative. Much more challenging to pull off. Kind of a complex choice for my first novel. It took me many different drafts, experiments with changes to those viewpoints, loads of rejections, and finally one blessed EUREKA! moment to get to the collage format that really made the story work. I enjoy the intricacies of the collage, and I like that the reader must be complicit in the story-telling experience. Younger readers really connect with it. Older readers don't quite get it.
It was a nice challenge to go back to the same format this fall when I wrote the sequel for TAKEN BY STORM--UNBROKEN CONNECTION.
TCR: Is there anything that you can tell us about your next book? (Or what format you'll be writing it in!)
Oh, I just answered that, but to clarify . . . My next novel is UNBROKEN CONNECTION. Michael and Leesie are thousands of miles apart and they don't like it. They won't leave each other alone and wouldn't leave me alone. I'm waiting to hear if Penguin will sign it or not. Ah, the perils of being a writer.
I'm also revising two unsold manuscripts. MY ONLY LOVE--a historical coming of age romance that moves from Scotland to Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania's anthracite coal mining country. And, MY ASSASSIN, a time-slip adventure novel that I've decided to turn upside down. I'm adding a Bronte-esque Victorian heroine to the mix. So it's going to be something like Jane Eyre meets the Terminator--but my assassin is no robot.
TCR: I like the sound of that! I hope to read them in the future! What is one place that you would like to visit?
AM: I've never really toured the Scottish Highlands. We've been to the Low Lands. My ancestors emigrated from Kilmarnock so that was so cool. I even dragged my whole family down a coal mine outside of Glasgow. This summer my husband and I are going to the Highlands--just the two of us (and my gel ink pen and camera).
Thanks so much, Angela!
And now I'm offering you a chance to win Sing Me to Sleep! One lucky winner will win a signed copy of Sing Me to Sleep...all you have to do to enter is comment below and tell me where you would go if you could visit any place in the world!
Also, Angela will be stopping by all day today in the comments, so if you have a question for her, bonus entries for asking her one today!
Another way to earn extra entries is by posting the book trailer on your blog, Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter pages! Post the link in the comments with your entry!
Good luck! The contest will end March 5th, 2010!