Friday, May 29, 2020

Eve Yohalem

After training as an opera singer, Eve Yohalem moved into the literary world first as an editorial assistant, then as the publisher of a website, then as an author of two books for young readers. She lives in New York with her husband, their two children, and pets.

Her new novel is The Truth According to Blue.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title is catchy, but the picture on the book jacket tells the story: two girls and a dog on a dock, scanning the water, a sunken ship beneath them. Summer fun! Adventure! Mystery! Well, yes, that’s all in the book (or at least I hope so). But Blue has type 1 diabetes, and Otis is a service dog as well as a beloved pet. If you look closely, you’ll see Otis is bowing down, which is how he alerts Blue that her blood sugar is low. He isn’t playing; he’s telling her she needs to stop whatever she’s doing and deal with it. As Blue says, Otis saves her life every day.

What's in a name?

Blue’s full name is Bluebell. I picked the name because it’s memorable and unusual and because it conveys backstory—Blue’s mother is a gardener. I also picked the name because it allowed me to write the line, “My mom named me Bluebell for her favorite flower. Since I’m not a dairy cow, I go by Blue.”

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would be very surprised by my novel since my teenage self wanted to be an opera singer. But teenage me wouldn’t be surprised by the characters in my novel. My sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was thirteen and I was eight, so I don’t remember a time when the disease wasn’t part of my life. Also, I’ve always loved dogs, especially German shepherds.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I usually find beginnings harder to write than endings, because by the time I get to the end, I’ve usually figured out where the story is headed. But with Blue, I knew the opening right away. From the moment I got the idea for the novel, I heard Blue’s voice saying “True Fact: Hundreds of years ago, a wooden ship with square sails and a cargo of gold sank near a tiny island off New York. It’s still there today.”

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

When I wrote my first novel, my sister said the protagonist sounded exactly like thirteen-year-old me. With Blue, my best friend said she sounds just like my daughter. That feels like progress to me!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

My sister, for diabetes. My friends’ dogs since I can’t have one of my own (my husband is allergic). The movie Parent Trap, for the growing friendship between two kids who initially hate each other. The Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian for all things seafaring.
Visit Eve Yohalem's website.

--Marshal Zeringue