Today, I am so excited to feature one of my favourite books thus far in 2013. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales turned out to be a hugely profound, powerful read that really resonated with me and many of my favourite bloggers. Leila took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions, and if you read on, there's even a giveaway.
Watch the Trailer for This Song Will Save Your Life
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.
1. The beauty of This Song Will Save Your Life Is that so many people can relate to the story in so many ways. How did you manage to perfectly bottle that time of one's life and spin it in a way that it can resonate for so many people?
Wow. I’m honored that you thought the book accomplished that! I’m not really sure how to answer this question, though. I just set out to tell the story of one girl in a way that felt true, and I hoped that there would be readers out there who would understand her.
2. Did This Song WIll Save Your Life draw from your own high school experience in any way and, if so, how?
Sure. My friends and I started going out to a nightclub that really was called Start! in Boston when we were seniors. Some of Elise’s experiences at Start are inspired by my own. And I did experience bullying, though more in middle school than in my small, all-girls high school. I went to a big, impersonal middle school, where I think it was easier for kids to get away with reprehensible treatment of others.
3. In This Song Will Save Your Life life, which is highly character-driven, music was almost a character in and of itself. What does music mean to you, and how did that impact your use of it through the story?
I think music is one of the purest expressions of emotion there is. Feelings are complicated, and hard to explain to other people; sometimes you just want to play them the song that exemplifies how you feel and say to them, “See? This. This is what I mean.” They probably won’t even hear that song in the same way that you do, but it seems like the closest we can come to letting someone else into our inner lives.
4. The characters within the novel are all characters we've all known at some point in our lives. Were they inspired by people you know, or are they just extremely realistic and genuine characters?
I borrow character traits from people I know, but I don’t borrow whole people. I’m most likely to borrow physical descriptions of people, like Vicky’s outfits and Char’s tattoo. But if you look at someone like Char, he’s an amalgam of many people I’ve known in my life, some of them well, some of them whom I just saw once in passing, and additionally he includes characteristics that I made up just for him.
5. In the vast realm of contemporary fiction, what do you think will make This Song Will Save Your Life stand out the most, and why?
Well, I hope it will stand out! I think there are a few things about this book that are unusual in the current YA market. A girl who becomes a DJ and a nightclub setting, of course, are not things you see all that often. I also think the romance doesn’t follow a typical YA romance track. And, while there are lots of books out there with suicide references (trust me—I’m a YA editor, I see a lot of them), most of them don’t have a character who acknowledges up front that her “suicide attempt” is a targeted bid for attention. For some reason there exists this belief out there that if a kid attempts suicide “just for attention,” then it doesn’t need to be taken as seriously as if he or she attempted suicide in order to actually die. I think that belief is pernicious and I wrote this book in part to address it.
6. If you could hope for readers to take one message away from this book, what would it be?
Different readers will take away different messages or truths, and I love that; I don’t want to control what every person takes home. For me personally, the heart of the story comes from Elise: “Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all.”
And now, I have an awesome giveaway for you all! One lucky winner will get a hardcover copy of This Song Will Save Your Life, as well as a disc with the full book soundtrack on it. This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only, and it will end promptly at midnight EST on September 20, 2013. Still want to enter? Simply fill out the Rafflecopter to do so!