RS: My novel is a literary fiction for young adults about a sixteen year old girl who uncovers a family feud and strikes out on her own to learn the secrets of her mother's past and heal the present. It is full of quirky characters that each help her to find her path to the truth and understanding. Set in Nebraska, and then a rugged fishing village in Maine, the story is character driven with high emphasis on
prose. I started writing it for my daughters because they give me so much creativity and vision that I wanted to thank them. I wanted them to have a story that told about life's disappointments and still left room for hope.
GC: When did you hear about Penguin and Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest? Were you set on entering right away?
RS: I heard about the contest from my husband the week before I entered. I was dead set against entering it. I ignored his prodding several times and told him that it was a waste of time. 5,000 manuscripts is one huge slush pile! I "knew" there was no chance that anyone was looking for a book like mine. Only when my husband sat down and threatened to
enter for me did I finally relent because I didn't want any pitch that he scraped up to have my name on it. I love every inch of him, but he is not a writer.
GC: What was the waiting process like? Do you consider that you were calm, cool and collected, or were you biting off your nails like the rest of us mere mortals?
RS: I was completely disengaged. Because I knew nothing would come of it I just went on with life. It was not until I made it to the top 50 that I even told anyone I entered or gave it a second though. At that point I felt the tingles for the first time because I knew it would get a review from Publisher's Weekly and that got my attention. The real
nerves didn't hit until the day they were supposed to call the
winners. I "knew" they wouldn't call me so I wouldn't call myself nervous, but I felt something. I felt a battle inside as a little voice said, "I hope they call. I hope they call" and I answered with a resounding, "be quiet in there. It's not going to happen!" Sometimes being wrong is the most wonderful thing.
GC: When did you hear you were a finalist? What was that moment like?
RS: I was sitting in the middle of an empty gravel road where I had gone to think. I could feel the disappointment of not getting the call as if it already happened and I was having an honest talk with myself about how little this event is in the grand scheme of things. I was trying to make sense of my own feelings when my phone rang. When a woman asked if I was Regina everything went still, no more birds or flies or squirrels or heartbeats or breathing. I started to cry. I
reached down to the road to steady myself. I've never been in such a state of disbelief in my entire life. I was so certain it would never be me. I was so happy to be mistaken.
GC: Have you had the chance to read your fellow nominee's work? What do you think of their novels?
RS: Because of the hectic nature of this week I have not finished all the general fiction entries, but I absolutely will. I am so happy for each of them. I have read my fellow Young Adult finalists and their work is superb. One is very subtle and intriguing, the other is exciting and engaging. I don't think the contest will be decided on skill as much as personal preference. Each one is so unique and strong in its own
right. I am honored to be among such great writers.
GC: If you win, what will you do to celebrate?
RS: I am already celebrating because I already feel like I won. Making it this far is a privilege. I think I will go to Seattle with the sweetest boy I know and meet great writers, editors and publishers to celebrate!
GC: Great attitude, Regina, may the odds be ever in your favor!
RS: Thank you so much for your interest in my novel. I appreciate the opportunity to share with other writers and readers, especially those who are chasing the dream of publication. I want them to know that their efforts are never wasted.
People may find all sorts of things about me at my website.