BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent
Defy the Stars
by Stephanie Parent
Julia Cape: A dedicated classical piano student just trying to get through her last semester of high school while waiting to hear from music conservatories.
Reed MacAllister: A slacker more likely to be found by the stoners’ tree than in class.
Julia and Reed might have graduated high school without ever speaking to each other…until, during a class discussion of Romeo and Juliet, Julia scoffs at the play’s theme of love at first sight, and Reed responds by arguing that feelings don’t always have to make sense. Julia tries to shake off Reed’s comment and forget about this boy who hangs with the stoner crowd—and who happens to have breathtaking blue eyes—but fate seems to bring the two together again and again. After they share an impulsive, passionate kiss, neither one can deny the chemistry between them. Yet as Julia gets closer to Reed, she also finds herself drawn into his dark world of drugs and violence. Then a horrific tragedy forces Julia’s and Reed’s families even farther apart…and Julia must decide whether she’s willing to give up everything for love.
Defy the Stars is written in an edgy free-verse style that will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder; however, the writing is accessible enough to speak to non-verse fans as well. The novel’s combination of steamy romance and raw emotion will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Echols, and Tammara Webber. With a story, language and form that both pay homage to and subvert Shakespeare’s play, Defy the Stars is much more than just another Romeo and Juliet story.
Q & A with Stephanie Parent
What do you want readers to take away from this story?
I don’t want to get too specific, because one of the things I love most about literature is that everyone gets something different out of a story based on their own experiences and viewpoint. I do hope that Defy the Stars makes people think about their own assumptions—whether they be about love at first sight, fate, crime, loss, drug use, or any other aspect of the story—and perhaps look at their beliefs from a new perspective.
So much of your story centers around Julia’s music and you are specific about key, timing, and tone. Do you play an instrument…and if so what?
I actually play the piano—although not nearly as well as Julia does! I went to a performing arts high school, The Baltimore School for the Arts, as a classical piano major, and I also took private lessons at the Peabody Preparatory, the pre-college branch of the Peabody music conservatory that Julia applies to in the novel. However, I was never too interested in or dedicated to the technical aspects of playing, and I knew I didn’t have the drive to pursue it as a career. I definitely couldn’t play the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata that Julia tackles in the novel!
There were some very emotional scenes in this book. How did you clear your mind after writing them?
To be honest, I sometimes had difficulty clearing my mind, and it was a relief to be finished with the novel! Especially since I tend to mull over problems in my writing when I’m doing other things, the book was pretty much a part of my life for a few months. I did try to distract myself by reading, watching TV shows, and playing with my dogs.
Who was the hardest character to write? Why?
They were all hard in different ways, but Julia’s mother was particularly difficult because she changed a lot while I was writing the book, so after finishing I had to go back and revise her earlier scenes to make sure her character was consistent.
What are a few of your favorite book series?
The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery, and the Faery Rebels series by R.J. Anderson.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
This is going to sound odd, but…my advice is actually to remember you don’t have to take every piece of advice you’re given. If you find a writing process that works for you, you should feel confident enough to stick with even if other people tell you it’s not the “right” way. And while every writer has to learn to take criticism, you also have to decide which criticism is helpful to you and which isn’t. If you tried to revise a book to please every single reader, you could spend your entire life editing and rewriting and never finish.
About the Author
Stephanie Parent is a YA author repped by Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major.
1st prize: $30 gift card from Amazon and a e-book copy of Defy the Stars.
2nd place: 4 e-book copies of Defy the Stars.
Additional Prize: A query letter critique by Stephanie Parent.
All giveaways are open internationally!
Click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour.