Welcome, to Peggy’s Hope 4U, Laurel Garver!
Imagine with me a city. You’re almost there. It’s a city you’ve always wanted to go to. The train is creeping ever closer. Then it stops. Almost there, but not quite. Laurel Garver is with us today to talk about her book, Almost There. Let’s see how many times we can use the title in different contexts.
About the Book
Title: Almost There Genre: YA inspirational / Christian YA
Let’s Learn more about Laurel Garver, Our Featured Author:
Laurel, I understand you live in Philadelphia. I love your city and the incredible history attached to it. So that we can learn more about your local inspiration, please tell us a little about what you love about your city.
I grew up rural, so I love how green Philadelphia is. We have one of the nation’s largest urban parks, and I live just a block from an entrance to it, with miles of wooded hiking trails. There’s so much to see and do here, from historic sites and museums to concerts and festivals. And I could go on and on about the amazing restaurants we have here.
One of my greatest passions in life is to mentor kids, whether it be in writing or art. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to help the kids where you live. Do you have any favorite stories about working with the kids in Philadelphia?
I learned pretty quickly that dignity is overrated; you have to be willing to be a total goofball at times for kids to let you get close. I’m not above wearing ugly sweaters or dressing up as Professor Trelawney to connect with them. Because I would talk Harry Potter and other fandom, the kids felt I was “safe” and were willing to talk to about their fears, ambitions, and spiritual questions.
Tell us about your most recent book and what inspired you to write it.
In Almost There, seventeen-year-old Dani believes taking a dream trip to Paris will magically heal her widowed mother’s depression. But shortly before they’re due to go, Dani’s grandfather falls ill, and they must head to Pennsylvania to help him.
Stories in which a child tries to rescue a parent have always intrigued me because it’s both topsy-turvy—not the way things are supposed to work—and also kind of beautiful. I also wanted to continue exploring how the difficult people in our families often have a story behind how they’ve become that way. Learn the story, and you can begin to move toward that person with more understanding and love. Learning my parents’ stories when I was a teen was definitely the inspiration for that particular theme.
Tell me something about Dani Deane that no one other than Laurel Garver knows.
When Dani lived in Brooklyn as a kid, she tried to cheer up a neighborhood friend who’d undergone scoliosis surgery by sending notes and drawings using a laundry-line pulley system. I sadly had to cut this flashback out of my debut because it didn’t really fit in the scene:
Coarse twine scratched my hands as I reeled my drawings of heartthrobs from Tiger Beat over to Stanze’s house, right behind mine. Surely these would cheer her up, help her forget being hot and itchy in a full-torso cast. I waited for her to send back a fun note in grape-scented ink, I’s dotted with hearts. Days passed, then the pulleys squealed. The basket came back to me, full. There were my drawings, in shreds, with a letter in jagged cursive accusing me of things I had to look up in the dictionary.
Her friend’s rejection totally crushed Dani and for years made her hesitant to put herself out for anyone.
We share one absolute truth; we love Celtic music. Have you always loved the music of my mother’s homeland or has your love developed over the years?
I developed an interest in it after going to Ireland with my high school marching band to participate in St. Patrick’s parades and concerts in Dublin, Limerick, and Galway. A friend introduced me to Clannad about a year later, and I got hooked on Celtic contemporary. I’ve gone to the Celtic Classic, a huge free concert festival nearly every year since it began in 1988. My favorite band that performed there in 2015 was The Fretless, a Canadian group that mixes Celtic with classical.
Books contain learning opportunities. In the books you’ve published is there a universal lesson or does each have a more specific message?
My series theme is that God is faithful when we are faithless. Each book in the series explores that at a different crisis moment in Dani’s life. And as I mentioned earlier, knowing your parents’ (and grandparents’) stories is important for growing up the relationship.
I’m extremely curious about your job editing a magazine. I suffered a brain injury years ago, and one of my weaknesses is forgetting vital facts (I keep copious notes) and reusing the same word frequently in my writing. I’m fairly convinced I must drive my editors crazy, but my eye doesn’t catch these errors. What’s the most difficult thing for you about being an editor?
The critical/analytical mode can be hard to switch out of. When I sit down to write, I can often second guess every word choice and sentence structure I draft. In the editing work itself, the hardest thing is untangling the twisted syntax of authors whose first language isn’t English.
Are there any guidelines on who would enjoy reading your book(s)?
If you’re interested in psychology, family dynamics, and what makes people tick, you’ll enjoy my stories. My protagonist has a strong narrative voice, sometimes sarcastic and funny, frequently lyrical. Dani’s spiritual growth is a big part of my stories, but even people outside a faith tradition said they find that aspect moving and interesting. Faith is simply a natural part of Dani’s life, part of her framework for understanding the world, just like her artistic ability is. And while my work is character-driven, there are strong mystery plot elements in both of my novels. There’s romance as well, though it is a subplot rather than the main event.
What are your plans for the future in writing?
I’m currently working on a holiday novella that takes place the Christmas before Almost There, told in alternating points of view by both Dani and Theo. I have several nonfiction projects in the works as well, including a fun collection of writing prompts I hope to finish this summer.
Please share with us where readers can make contact with Laurel Garver.
Let us know where we can find your books.
My other work is located on the books page of my website.
Thank you so much for joining us today! I know my fans are anxious to get to know more about you! Come back anytime!
Thanks so much for having me!
You’re almost there! Just a few clicks here and a few clicks there and you’ll arrive! Arrive where?
Why, you’ll arrive at the rafflecopter page to enter the creative giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter for your chance to win the Almost There Parisian prize basket