Author Interview: Sonja K. Solter!

Hello readers!

We are just as bummed as you are about all of our author events being cancelled–we know why it was necessary, but it’s okay to be accepting of the necessity and devastated at the cancellations at the same time. We were really looking forward to these events, dangit!

We know that online interviews can’t quite make up for an in-store event, but we’re hoping that they’ll help tide you over until we can reschedule for when we reopen! So here’s the first one!

We were supposed to have a book signing event with debut Colorado author Sonja K. Solter earlier in April. Instead, we asked her some questions about her book, When You Know What I Know, her writing process, and what her favorite thing about our awesome state is! Here’s the interview:

 

 

Congratulations on your debut novel! We know how difficult and amazing that is. What was the hardest thing about debuting? What was the best thing? 

The hardest thing was switching last-minute from the in-person events and outreach I had planned to more social media and online ways of debuting. I had put a lot of time and work and personal growth into my original planning. However, the upside was the amazing sense of community among writers, indie bookstores, teachers, and librarians as things shifted. And that came with a bonus of even more personal growth along the way, of course! The best thing was simply the knowledge that people would finally be reading my book.  I love writing in any case, but it’s wonderful to have an audience.

When You Know What I Know is about abuse, but I think, really, it’s about surviving and growing strong again in the aftermath. There are so many books about abuse, but I think the focus of this one being the healing process is more important. Was that always the focus of the book, or did it change organically in the process of writing it? 

The very, very beginning of writing the story, as the character’s voice first started coming to me, was more about being heard and believed. However, as soon as the story had a trajectory, it centered around Tori’s healing journey. It’s a long and difficult road, and I wanted to portray the realism of that, but I also believe that the hope in the healing is also more realistic because it is deep and true and whole. I hope that readers experiencing a variety of difficulties can recognize that finding help and healing can be a lengthy process, and that it can encourage them not to give up.

Obviously, the whole #MeToo movement has been a beacon lighting up new stories about abuse and harassment. Did it have any effect on When You Know What I Know? 

While it’s hard to get published in general, I do believe it took longer for this novel because I first sent it out before the #MeToo movement. The world is more ready now to engage with the topic, including separating out our appropriate discomfort with sexual abuse from a more general taboo about speaking out about it.

The book is written in verse as opposed to prose. What were the challenges of writing in verse? What were the joys?

The challenges were in the intricacies of the form. Even though it’s free verse, every word, punctuation mark, line break, etc. went through intense examination at various stages of writing and editing. The joy for me was in the direct way that I could access Tori’s voice and emotions. I felt that she was really able to tell her story through me.

Your website says you are currently a creative writing mentor to youth with the Society of Young Inklings. What is that society and what is it like to mentor these youths? 

The Society of Young Inklings is a nonprofit organization that strives to give a voice to and a platform for young people’s stories. It has free resources for educators and youth, as well as offering mentorships, online classes, and avenues for youth publication, including a yearly contest that culminates in a published collection of the winners. I love mentoring youth writers! Their creativity and dedication to making their stories the best they can be continually inspires me.

You’re a semi-local for us, living in Colorado. What’s your favorite part about our magnificent state? 

I’m a forest person, so I love being in among the ponderosa pines. In fact, that’s where I wrote the first poems for this novel!

You’ve studied biology in addition to creative writing. Was there a moment when you decided to lean more toward writing than biology, or do you still do both? 

I was big reader as a child, but I actually didn’t do much creative writing until my mid-twenties. I’ve always been interested in a variety of subjects, and it’s easy to get pulled towards science because of all of the important contributions one can make. In a way, it wasn’t surprising to switch to kidlit, though, because I had kept reading it all along, and it had been so formative for me as a child.

What author, alive or dead, would you most like to have dinner with? 

Madeleine L’Engle because her work had a profound influence on me and on my outlook on the universe and humanity.


Thank you so much, Sonja! We are excited to meet you in person once we’re open and allowed to have events again!

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You can find out more about Sonja on her website, here.

You can order When You Know What I Know on our website, or call the store between 10 and 2 to have us ship it to you!

Happy reading!

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