I am so pleased to have award-winning author Karen Pokras Toz stop by today to celebrate her latest release Chasing Invisible!
Chasing Invisible is the story of quiet, bookish Julia Alexander who needs little more than her family, her books, and a few close friends to be content. But her life takes a 180º turn when she meets Chase, a budding musician. When the song he writes for Julia becomes a hit, Julia’s quiet life becomes a faint memory. She finds herself being proposed to in front of thousands of fans at Chase’s concert and her photograph plastered across every reputable and non-reputable magazine and newspaper on a daily basis.
Standing strong against unkind remarks about unflattering photographs taken of her and salacious stories that she knows are lies, Julia forges ahead the best she can. But things change again when her children are born and she is no longer sure that every printed rumor about Chase is a lie. Now she needs to stand strong to protect her children and herself from the harm the paparazzi causes. How far will she go to keep her children invisible?
Reminiscent of Princess Diana and her life in the limelight, Chasing Invisible is a compelling story of how ravenous the paparazzi can be when it comes to news of celebrities. Harassment, lying, and children are all fair game in this business. Julia questions it all, especially how she became the target. After all, she is not the famous musician: her husband is.
I enjoyed this novel: my first on a Kindle! Julia is a likable character surrounded by good friends I wouldn’t mind hanging out with myself. The struggles she goes through to keep her children’s lives private will resonate with any parent, and I gasped out loud at times reading about the horrifically unkind judgments passed on everything about her. I cannot imagine what it must be like for today’s celebrities that have to survive that kind of scrutiny. While this is an adult novel, I can’t help but think it would jump start a dialogue with teenagers about what they say about others on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and the harmful impact it could have.
This novel has a heck of a twist at the end, which is just icing on a great piece of cake!
My Interview With Karen Pokras Toz
1) Congratulations on your release of Chasing Invisible! You got your start writing novels for middle grade readers, and this is your first adult contemporary novel. What prompted you to make the change?
Thank you so much, and thank you for hosting me here today! Actually, I wrote the first draft of Chasing Invisible about a year before I started writing my first middle grade novel. In that draft, there was a flashback scene where I wrote the main character as a ten year old. That scene has since been cut, however, I learned that I loved writing in that young voice, and it was that scene that inspired me to go on to write middle grade.
2) What challenges did you encounter in writing for an adult audience that you did not expect?
As I mentioned above, I wrote the first draft of Chasing Invisible many years ago, and have since changed focus to middle grade. Going back to that adult voice was very difficult. My ten, eleven, and twelve year old voices kept trying to creep through which as you can imagine did not mesh well with adult themes. It took me quite some time to tune them out and focus on the adult voice, which thankfully I did finally find.
3) Chasing Invisible is about a family in the media spotlight, where every facet of their lives is splayed out for the world to see. How did you research what the effects of that kind of scrutiny would be on a person, especially one as private as Julia?
I wish I had some glamorous answer that I travelled to Hollywood and interviewed celebrities, but really all I did was observe. As a child and even as an adult I watched so many “rise and falls” of celebrity families. I was particularly fascinated with Princess Diana (as so many others were) – it was during her marriage that I began to question her right to privacy and the ethics of it all.
4) Julia’s journey through her life in the spotlight was compelling, and the ending…well, let’s just say I did not see that coming! Without giving anything away, did you always know that was how your novel would end, or did it come to you as you wrote from Julia’s point of view that this would be the solution to her paparazzi problem?
The ending was actually the prompt for the entire story. At times I wanted to start the story from the ending and move backwards, but I knew I had to tell Julia’s story from the beginning or the readers wouldn’t have any connection to her. Plus I think the reader gets more of a shock factor having it at the end. (and that’s all I’m saying there!)
5) Nate Rocks the World was your first middle grade novel that has since blossomed into a series. (I loved it! Read my review here.) I know we briefly talked about reluctant readers. As a writer, how do you engage a reluctant reader?
For kids, I think humor is key. If your kids are laughing while they are reading, then they are engaged, and if they are engaged, then they will want more. In between the humor, I throw in adventure and learning – yes – don’t tell them, but I squeeze in messages about respect, self-confidence, friendships, and anti-bullying.
6) Now that you’ve written for both adults and children, do you have a favorite audience to write for?
Hard question! They’re so different!! I’m working on another adult contemporary book and two other middle grade books right now and I love them all. I guess it’s like asking me which of my kids I love best. I love them all!
7) Coming from a finance/law background to writing seems like a dramatic switch. Is writing new to you, or has it always been a part of your life?
I know – it’s crazy, and nobody is more surprised than me! I can’t even explain it. I always loved to read, but hated writing. Math was always my thing. For the past twelve years I’ve been a number cruncher. My writing was limited to emails asking for people’s tax information. I honestly have no explanation and even now when I say I’m a writer, I still can’t believe I’m saying the words. It sounds completely absurd.
8) As the mom of three children, when/where/how do you find time to write?
They are horribly neglected. Kidding!! I write mostly during the day when they are at school. I’m lucky to have three great kids.
9) What is next for you on your writing horizon?
I’m working on a book called “Pie & Other Brilliant Ideas” which is a middle grade book I’m hoping to release in the fall. Then I have the 4th Nate Rocks book slated for early 2014. A surprise for the summer of 2014 and another adult book for late 2015 (tentatively titled Woven Wishes) about three sisters.
10) What is your favorite dessert?
About a million things just popped in my head – but I think I love cannoli’s most of all!
Thank you so much for stopping by Karen, and best of luck on your tour!
Visit Karen Pokras Toz here:
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