the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog


Posted by Tami Brown on Mon, Mar 09, 2015 @ 06:03 AM
We're welcoming Sarah Tomp to the LaunchPad this week! 
Sarah graduated from VCFA in July 2007 as a member of the class of Unreliable Narrators. She lives in San Diego, now, but originally hails from the beautiful hills of Appalachia. 

Tomp MyBestEverything HC
This summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating

 Lulu Mendez longs to leave behind her small Virginia town and her job at the local junkyard in favor of sunny California and college life. So when her father loses her tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out—fast.

 Desperate for funds, she and her friends cook up a scheme to make and sell moonshine—the homemade, high-profit, and highly illegal alcohol that surfaces every now and then at parties and bars. Looking for a guide into this secret world, they turn to Mason, a boy with a troubled past and the skills to go with it. With Mason’s know-how and Lulu’s determination, the plan just might work.

Except that Lulu never planned to fall for a boy with no future. And as the summer burns on and danger closes in, Lulu realizes that getting everything she ever wanted might mean losing more than she can bear.

 My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason—but is it an apology, a love letter, or a good-bye?

Welcome to the LaunchPad, Sarah! As the great granddaughter of a Kentucky bootlegger (who had a tea-totaller son-in-law) I've got to say this is one fantastic, high-proof read! Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Honestly, I'd have to say my main character, Lulu. Kathi Appelt once told me it's more interesting to read about a girl with a goal than a girl with a guy--and that's something I love about Lulu. She definitely has a goal. She is absolutely driven to get out of town. She is stubborn and bossy and selfish; determined and single-focused to a fault. I loved writing a character that was willing to take action and make mistakes and messes, as long as it meant she was getting closer to her goal.

But I also had fun writing Lulu's junkyard boss, Sal, who is full of wisdom and advice...about junk.

You can't beat the wisdom of Kathi Appelt! What was the most difficult element to cut/change during the revision process and why?

I loved everything about the revisions I did for my editor Bethany Strout. They were tough and sometimes required a full re-working of the draft - for instance the yeast was barely mentioned in the initial manuscript, but is now crucial to the plot. But I trusted her judgment and she was (almost) always right, so it was exciting to do the work.

But then there was the title. That was absolutely the toughest thing to nail down and agree on. That was my own personal dark night of the soul! My Best Everything wasn't my idea, but now I love it. And I love where it came from in the book. Again, my editor is super-smart and thoughtful!

Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group? Does your son or mom read your early drafts? Is Twitter your bastion of support?

sarahtompTwitter? I actually love Twitter. Someone I consider one of my closest writer friends now is someone I *met* through Twitter. Come find me as @swtomp!

​I am lucky enough to have a steady and reliable face to face critique group here in San Diego. One of the members, Carolyn Marsden is also a VCFA alum and was the first person to tell me about this amazing place! We meet every other week--we are tough and relentless! But we have fun, too. ​I also count on some of my UN classmates to be my first readers. And emotional support too! They are my writer rocks.  

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

My heroes! I was lucky enough to work with Ellen Howard, Kathi Appelt, Tim Wynne-Jones and Rita Williams-Garcia. Each one gave me exactly what I needed at that point. ​

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

When I started VCFA, I planned to work on picture books. But between the lectures and the reading and the time spent writing, I soon discovered I had other kind of stories to tell also. Most of all, VCFA gave me the gift of taking my writing seriously--I learned how to put it first before other things that had once seemed important. ​

Just recently I went on a retreat with fellow 11 VCFA alums - I only knew one person well and had briefly met a couple of others​ - and it was AMAZING. VCFA-ers are some of my absolute favorite people in the world. Whether I know you or not!

MY BEST OF EVERYTHING is available in bookstores everywhere. And you can visit Sarah here-

Topics: young adult, 2015 release, Little Brown, contemporary, Sarah Tomp

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