You don’t choose who you love, it just happens. Follow young Abbie Raymond as she traverses concentric rings of tragedy, hope and healing.
It’s Day 3 of the WordCrafter Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tour. Today, I’m pleased to bring you an interview with author Ann Chiappetta. Hope for the Tarnished is her debut novel and I get the feeling that she’s mighty proud of it, as she should be. This touching young adult novel sees a small girl grow into a young woman, in spite of the adversities life throws her way, and she is left with hope for a brighter future.
Let’s Meet Ann Chiappetta
Ann is an artist and often refers to her love of words as a natural compensation after losing her vision in 1993. Once a designer of acrylic displays and furniture, Ann trained her creative senses to flow over from the visual to the literary arts. Years later, she has become a poet and author, honing her talent in various mediums, including web content for nonprofits, regular bylines for online literary publications, poetry, anthologies and guest editing in online literary journals.
Ann possesses a master of science in Marriage and family therapy from Iona College and an undergraduate degree from the College of New Rochelle, both located in Westchester County, New York. A guide dog handler and advocate, Ann volunteers her time representing people with visual impairments and guide dog users on various National, State and local boards of directors. A consultant and guest presenter, Ann visits schools promoting awareness and equality for people with disabilities. She is the 2015 recipient of the WDOM Spirit of Independence award and the 2019 GDUI Lieberg-Metz award for excellence in writing.
Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Ann: When I was a kid I would read a book and if it was a really good book, I would think about how they did it. My love of books grew with me and in seventh grade, after writing my first poem, the teacher said I could now call myself a poet. It was just a matter of time and education after that. I was always drawing, singing, dancing, imagining – it was a matter of creative discipline and eventually my talent emerged as I practiced.
Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?
Annie: I do have one part of my creative process few authors utilize and that is text-to-speech technology on my computer because I am blind. I actually listen to the words as I type. I think it helps me craft stories and poems that also sound good when read aloud. I also tend to write down the bones, then return to the idea later after it has cooked a bit in the creative oven. I also use my dreams to write scenes and shorter pieces of fiction and poetry.
Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?
Annie: I like to write in the morning and sometimes catch an hour’s worth of editing work in the afternoons. I rarely write at night, that’s for reading, family and TV. I do record notes when I am out and need to recall something like overhearing a conversation or a feeling about something I’ve heard or explored. I will listen to the recording and then write a piece. The recording brings me back to the moment and strengthens the piece.
Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?
Annie: I’ve been published for years in journals and even once in Reader’s Digest. Poetry was first, followed by nonfiction articles and a few bylines. I didn’t consider a book until 2015. My first book, Upwelling: Poems, was published in 2016. My Mom was my biggest fan and supporter of my talent and was a poet herself but did not let us read her work. After she died of cancer in 2015, I wanted to honor her memory and belief in me by finding a way to self-publish my poems. I had almost given up, losing faith that despite being blind and unable to use desktop publishing software because of my disability, I stumbled across DLD Books after reading another blind writer’s memoir. I emailed the address and Leonore Dvorkin wrote me back and the rest is self-publishing history. I dedicated my book to my Mom, Mary, and have since dedicated each book to her. Interestingly, as we went through her belongings, we found a poetry journal and I have some of her writing.
Kaye: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Annie: I read and listen to audio books with my husband. We like to cook and watch baseball and football together. I listen to music, from classical to pop tracks. Our adult daughter lives nearby and helps us out all the time. I record my poems and perform them for others. I volunteer my time in blindness organizations in my county as well as Nationally. I sit on local, State and National boards of directors representing artists who are blind, guide dogs as well as writers with disabilities. We have two dogs and three cats that keep us busy.
Kaye: Your new book is Hope for the Tarnished, a sweet Y.A. about a young girl who overcomes some very difficult life obstacles. What’s the most fun part of writing this novel? What’s the least fun part?
Annie: The most fun part about writing Hope for the Tarnished was developing the relationship between Abbie and Augie. I wanted their attraction to grow as they matured. The hardest part of the story was finding the right set of circumstances to separate them and then keep them apart. There was also times when writing the traumatic scenes were difficult and I needed breaks because I got all weepy or verklempt.
Kaye: Your book, Hope for the Tarnished, recently came out. Would you like to tell us a little about that?
Annie: It is my first novel and I was apprehensive about sending out into the world. The novel was released in March 2022, a great month and not just because it is my birthday month, 😉 It is my first hard cover book and also the first book to also be offered through the Library of Congress catalog. My sister, Cheryll, provided the book cover photo, which is the third cover she helped design. Marketing a book is the tough part and doesn’t always feel successful, especially in terms of sales. I tell myself it is the readers who make it better, the ones who take the time to tell me what they thought of the book, how it effected them and even the criticism is important to me, it helps me want to become a better writer. It’s hard to hear the negative feedback but in the end, good and bad helps me push ahead and want to achieve more.
Kaye: How did you decide on this title?
Annie: My editor, Leonore Dvorkin helped me by researching variations of the title. I picked Hope for the Tarnished mostly because it encapsulated the overall arch of the book and it didn’t generate an over-used title.
Kaye: What kind of research do you find yourself doing for this story?
Annie: I researched the book title to make sure it wasn’t over-used. I brought in my knowledge of boating but did have to research the cars and other vehicles being used in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I also had to research the clothing styles. I was very happy when I was able to weave in the 1977 premiere of Star Wars, 😊 That movie was a key component of what generated my love of science fiction and fantasy.
Kaye: What’s the hardest part of the story for you to write: beginning, middle or end?
Annie: The middle, what I refer to as the doldrums. I often get stuck even after the outline is completed. Sometimes I stay awake at night thinking, “what comes next?”.
Kaye: How much of the story do you know before the actual writing begins?
Annie: I know the main idea, sketch the outline, make brief plot notes, maybe even a brief character sketch or two is done prior to the first chapter. I used to be a writer of discovery and now I am an outliner and planner. I’ve found outlining or developing a short synopsis crafts the story better and helps me avoid over-writing scenes. I’d much rather add to something than remove it, though a novel ends up shifting in both directions as it is written and edited.
Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?
Annie: Characters. If I don’t develop an emotional response for them, I don’t feel even the best theme or plot will help me through the story — both as a reader and author of a story.
Kaye: Have you created any of your characters based on people who you know in real life?
Annie: Who hasn’t? 😊 Seriously, though, my characters are most often composites of people I’ve known or characters I’ve admired from other books or stories. I do like to develop characters with realism and imagination.
Kaye: What is something your readers would never guess about you?
Annie: I love to go fast, used to race street cars in California. I’ve ridden horses in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and love riding motorcycles.
Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?
Annie: I am a morning writer. I like to awaken and listen to the sounds around me, find the flavor of the day and let my mind determine what to work on. Sometimes it is a poem or a deeper discussion over email about a project, at other times it is prepping a script to record. Though I like the quiet of night, I am often too tired to write. I am not the kind of person to write in a coffee shop, I’d be the person in the corner of the library with the laptop instead.
I like to write early in the day when my mind is most agile. Sometimes I edit and finish tasks like a blog post or something simple but keep the creative work for the mornings.
Kaye: How much do you read? What do you like to read?
Annie: I am eclectic when it comes to answering this question. Genres include science fiction and fantasy, some horror and suspense, memoir, nonfiction, literary fiction collections and short stories and crossovers. I also listen to poetry selections but I am picky about the poets I read. I get through about fifty books a year, give or take.
Some of my favorite authors are Rudyard Kipling, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correa, Michael Connelly, John Irving, Kahlil Gibran, and I have read dozens of the books based on the Star Wars universe. I love to read poets Billy Collins, Joan Myles, Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, Wordsworth, William Blake, and many others.
Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?
Annie: Anne McCaffrey, author of the science fiction Dragon riders of Pern series.
Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to teach your children?
Annie: My kids are adults now. They both grew up while I progressed through my vision loss journey. I know this has helped them develop a high level of compassion for others and people with disabilities. I also know it was hard for my kids to cope with a Mom who is blind. We had tough moments and we got through it. Whenever I hear my daughter helped a neighbor or a Mom comment on how she helped someone, my heart is happy. I say to them that the world is a kind place if you believe it and be part of the kindness.
Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?
Annie: Face Book is my social media site of choice because it is robust and fairly easy to navigate.?
Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Annie: In order to be a good writer, you need to be a better reader and keep reading — as much as possible and in as many genres and styles as possible — and this and practice will hopefully help you become a great writer.
If you are only joining us now for the first time, and would like to learn more about Ann or her novel, you can follow the rest of the tour and check out the posts from the first two blog stops on the tour:
Welcome to the WordCrafter Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tour. On this tour you’ll learn about a touching new young adult novel, Hope for the Tarnished, with guest posts by the author, Ann Chiappetta, as well as reviews and an interview. I hope to see you all at each tour stop. Here’s the tour schedule so you don’t have to miss any of the stops:
Day 1:Writing to be Read – Introduction and Review
Day 2: Patty’s World – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta
Day 3:Writing to be Read – Interview with Ann Chiappetta
Day 4:Roberta Writes – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta
Day 5:Zigler’s News – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta and Review
About Hope for the Tarnished
Young Abbie struggles to cope with the traumatic experiences in her life. Ripped from everything familiar after her parents’ divorce, she is dropped into a strange neighborhood and is emotionally abandoned by her unstable mother. Abbie is caught up in the cruel nature of one sister’s addictions and often rescued by her other sister’s sense of familial responsibility and love.
The story takes place in the 1970s, revealing family secrets and the shift of cultural norms as Abbie leaves her doubts in the past, embracing a bright future.
Hope for the Tarnished, by Ann Chiappetta is a young adult novel about a young girl who triumphs over the adversities of life to find a chance for happiness as a young woman. It’s a story of tragedy and triumph. It’s a story of hope that will tug at your heartstrings.
Growing up as a latch-key kid, before it was ‘thing’, with a mentally unstable mother, who is indifferent to her daughters’ needs, and sister who is an addict, Abbey faces loss and tragedy head on. But as she grows into a young woman, love complicates her life and makes her doubt her own decisions. With time, social norms and personal situations change, making Abbey dare to hope for happiness once more.
A touching story of love and hope, with the message that nothing ever stays the same, Hope for the Tarnished leaves you with an overall good feeling. I rooted for Abbey all the way through.