Interview With YA Author, Sarah Carson & A Giveaway Of Her New Novel, EVERYTHING’S NOT FINE
May 3rd, 2020 by Liza Wiemer

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About Everything’s Not Fine From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Rose Hemmersbach aspires to break out of small town Sparta, Wisconsin and achieve her artistic dreams, just like her aunt Colleen. Rose’s love of Frida Kahlo fuels her paint brush and her dreams to attend a prestigious art school. Painting is Rose’s escape from her annoying younger siblings and her family’s one rule: ignore the elephant in the room, because talking about it makes it real. That is, until the day Rose finds her mother dying on the kitchen floor of a heroin overdose. Kneeling beside her, Rose pleads with the universe to find a heartbeat. She does – but when her mother is taken to hospital, the troubles are just beginning. Rose and her dad are left to pick up the pieces: traumatized siblings, a Child Protective Services investigation, eviction. As Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams of the future start to slip from her grasp, she must face the question of what happens when – if – her mom comes home again. And if, deep down, Rose even wants her to.


Question: Was there anything that surprised you while writing this novel? If so, what?

I started writing Everything’s Not Fine over five years ago while living in Singapore. I was feeling more than a little homesick for Wisconsin, so I decided to set it in my high school hometown. My first novel was set in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It required years of research into history, culture, dialect, and current events, as well as three trips to Belfast. I also extensively studied up on a million other little things related to setting. With Everything’s Not Fine, I decided to treat my old hometown, and my state, with the same anthropological lens, which meant really thinking about my own culture and dialect and history, and also that of rural Wisconsin. I haven’t lived in Sparta for over a decade, so I also took several “research trips” to my own hometown. This process was surprisingly fun. When I was younger, before I knew many people from outside Wisconsin and had the opportunity to travel much, I thought we didn’t have a culture. After living abroad, I realized the Upper Midwest does have a unique culture, and it was so much fun trying to capture that in Everything’s Not Fine.

Question: Any novel secrets?

A few secrets from my novel… In Everything’s Not Fine, Rose and Rafa both work at Walmart as cashiers. This is the exact job I had in high school. In the book, “Wind Beneath My Wings” plays on Walmart radio numerous times and grates on Rose’s nerves. This is based on my actual experience, haha. Also, as Rose trains Rafa to cashier, she gets some customers from Chicago trapped in small-town Sparta for a wedding. They have some rather disparaging things to say about the town. While I never had those exact customers come through my line, I distinctly remember a few big city customers looking down on my small town. Another secret: in one scene Rose goes to a gas station and is greeted by a cashier who knows everyone’s name. This minor character is based on a gas station attendant who remembered my name ten years after I moved away. 

Question: What do you love about your cover and how does it connect to your story?

The thing I love most about my cover are the roses. They capture Rose’s love of art, particularly Frida Kahlo, but it’s more than that. Everything’s Not Fine is ultimately a story about discovering your own resilience in the aftermath of tragedy, and, to me, blooming flowers offer both beauty and hope. 

Bonus round: What do you prefer?

Coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Coffee!!!

Winter, spring, summer or fall? Fall!!

Fries, potato chips, popcorn or onion rings? Hmmm, I don’t super love any of them, but probably fries.

Movie at a theater or watch a movie at home? Theater, especially missing this now in the time of social distancing!

Ice cream: chocolate, strawberry or vanilla? Chocolate

Vacation: Beach, Disney, city with lots of museums, skiing? Not on the list, but I’d pick mountains. To hike, not ski. 

About Sarah Carlson:

Sarah is a YA author focused on exploring contemporary issues facing youth today.  Her debut novel, All the Walls of Belfast, is out now (Turner Publishing Company). Her second novel, Everything’s Not Fine, will be released by Turner Publishing Company on May 26th, 2020.

Find Sarah: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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