Author: Tracy Clark
Pub. Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Seventeen-year-old Ryan Poitier Sharpe is a gutsy, outgoing girl who spends her summer days hurling herself out of planes at her parents’ skydiving center in the Mojave Desert. Fiercely independent and willing to take risks, she challenges those around her to live life fully. But after a brush with death, Ryan is severely altered—she’s not the same thrill-seeking girl she once was and seems to be teetering on the edge of psychosis. As her relationships crumble and her life unravels, Ryan must fight the girl she’s become—or lose herself forever—in this eerie and atmospheric thriller.
Tracy Clark is a young-adult writer because she believes teens deserve to know how much they matter and that regardless of what they’re going through, they aren’t alone. In other words, she writes books for her teen self.
She grew up a “Valley Girl” in Southern California but now lives in her home state of Nevada, in a small town at the base of the Sierra Foothills. Her two children teach her the art of distraction and are a continuous source of great dialogue.
Tracy was the recipient of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Work in Progress Grant. A two-time participant in the prestigious Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. Tracy is a private pilot, an irredeemable dreamer, and a spicy-chocolate connoisseur.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The inspiration for MIRAGE was a bit of an evolution. I suspect this happens with a lot of authors. An idea hits—in this case it was looking at a marble floor in a hotel. It was so glossy it seemed you could step through to another dimension. But I don’t often go with first ideas because they can be the “low hanging fruit,” the easy ideas that anyone can grasp. So, I ask more questions. That led to the image of a girl believing she’s seeing someone else looking back at her from reflective surfaces. I couldn’t shake that image and that was the starting point.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
I have a soft spot for Gran. There always seems to be a place in my books for the wise, soulful older woman. Gran ended up being unexpectedly funny, too! But my favorite character is the main character, Ryan. She’s fiercely authentic and bold about living life to the fullest. She may not have all the answers about her life and the people in it (who does?!) but she’s got an open mind and a serious fight in her that I admire.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely the novel! In fact, the working title for this book was “Reflection” but with urging from my amazing agent, Michael Bourret, it was changed to MIRAGE. The new title is definitely more mysterious and also speaks to the unusual setting in the Mojave Desert.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The specific scene I’m most proud of is the LSD scene in the motor home. I “played” with my writing while crafting that scene in a way I hadn’t done before. I gave myself the freedom to write outside the box. Overall, I’m proud of MIRAGE because it has a tricky plot element that I wasn’t sure I could pull off and I’m proud of myself for taking on the challenge. Writers should always push themselves to try and do what they think they cannot! It’s how we grow.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Wow, it’s so hard to boil it down to THE most important thing! I’ve learned so much since I started and continue to learn with every project. I think it’s realizing that the only thing I should be thinking about is my creativity, my work. Writers can’t control sales numbers, reviews, opinions, or even whether or not we get published. All a creator can control is what they create. If I focus on that, then I know that I’m controlling the only thing I actually have any power over.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I LOVE the enigmatic look in the model’s eyes! From what I understand, it was a challenging cover for HMH to nail down. They wanted the skydiving element on the cover, but then it looked like an adventure book. In the end, I think they found a photograph that captures the essence of the mystery.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2016?
I’m dying to read CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo! I know I’m late to this party, but I just discovered her writing this year and devoured SIX OF CROWS. I can’t wait for the sequel!
What was your favorite book in 2015?
My favorite YA of 2015 was I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. I felt broken and reassembled by that book! My favorite nonfiction was Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC. It should be required reading for artists.
What’s up next for you?
I just finished a YA historical set in Paris about a real-life mysterious death and the death mask that became famous. I’m crossing all digits that it gets picked up by an amazing publisher. Wish me luck!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of MIRAGE, US Only.
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