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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Half a Heart by Karen McQuestion - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Nine-year-old Logan is living in fear. There are strict rules at home, but his father still manages to find fault in everything Logan does. Logan doesn't speak, he's always hungry because there isn't much to eat, he doesn't have decent clothes and his too small shoes are taped together. Logan's mother died and his father is living with a girlfriend and her mean daughter. Logan's father is often angry and Logan is afraid of what he might do. During one of his worst outbursts, Logan manages to escape and runs away. He doesn't know where to go, but ends up in a moving van, so manages to get away from the city he lives in. Logan hopes his father won't come looking for him. Surviving on his own will be easier than being at home with his father, even if he has no money and no place to stay. Will he be able to remain undiscovered?

Logan's grandmother is looking for her grandson. Because Logan's father moves around a lot and doesn't want her to know his address she's lost contact. Logan thinks his grandmother, the only person in the world who still cared about him, is dead. Everyone he loves eventually leaves him. Does Logan's grandmother have a chance to find her grandson?

Half a Heart is a beautiful moving story. Logan is a sweet and smart boy. It was heartbreaking to read about his home situation. I had tears in my eyes because of the way Logan's father treats his son. I love it when an author can make me feel so much. Logan is courageous and resilient and I admired his spirit. He's such a wonderful main character. His story is one big adventure that comes from a nasty situation. He never despairs and he comes up with a solution for every problem. Finding out if there would be happiness in Logan's future kept me on the edge of my seat. I read his story in one sitting, Half a Heart is a book that definitely touched my heart.

Karen McQuestion's writing has such a nice easy flow, which makes it possible to completely focus on the story. She skillfully translates what's happening in the mind of a nine-year-old, which is an amazing achievement and alternates between several equally captivating main characters, which makes the story interesting from beginning to end. I loved the kindhearted women in her story. Logan's grandmother is a fantastic person and Logan meets people on his journey who are equally gorgeous inside. I was totally enchanted by Half a Heart, it's such a brilliant story filled with many impressive layers, hope and unconditional love. I highly recommend this impressive book.

Advice

If you love moving stories about family and unconditional love you don't want to miss Half a Heart.

About Karen McQuestion



Karen McQuestion is a bestselling author whose books have sold over a million copies worldwide. Some of her titles include Hello Love, Life on Hold, The Long Way Home, and the Edgewood series.

Her books have been translated into German, Spanish, Polish, Korean, Turkish, and Czech and are available internationally in English.

Her publishing story has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and on NPR. She has also appeared on ABC’s World News Now and America This Morning. McQuestion lives with her family in Hartland, Wisconsin.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Interview

1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I’d love to—thanks for asking. I’m the author of seventeen books. I’m also a mother of three, wife of one, and a lifelong resident of Wisconsin which is considered a Midwestern state even though it’s pretty far north. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a child, but I didn’t get a novel written and published until I was in my forties. For a while there it didn’t seem like it was going to happen at all, but I kept at it. There’s something to be said for perseverance.

2) How did you get the idea to write about a nine-year-old main character?

I’ve long been fascinated with the idea of a character who literally has no voice. How would you make your way in the world if you couldn’t speak? I knew Logan would be mute and I also knew he would be a child, not an adult, long before I knew other details of the book. A nine-year-old is capable in so many ways but still very much a child. The idea of a boy that age out on his own is sufficiently alarming, regardless of how resourceful he might be.

3) Half a Heart has some difficult scenes, how did you prepare to write the hard parts of your story?

I wrote the book sequentially, which means that the difficult scenes were balanced by scenes that were less intense. Some of the chapters, I think, are heartwarming, affirming one’s faith in humanity. I wanted the book to be less about abuse, and more about the journey away from abuse, as Logan escapes and encounters helpful people along the way.

4) You write about heartwarming grandmothers, where does the inspiration behind them come from, are they based on someone real?

I was closest to the grandmother on my mother’s side. She was soft spoken and very kind. Sadly, she died when I was about eleven, but because of her, I always associate grandmothers with goodness and love. The character of Grandma Nan was derived from that presumption. 

5) You love to talk about writing, how did you discover you are good at helping others with their journey?

In my early years of writing novels and trying to get them published, I was always trying to crack the code. Why did some stories resonate with readers and not others? What made a novel a page turner? How best to include backstory and description without slowing down the pace? I scanned industry sites to find out which novels were acquired by publishers. I read author blogs to learn about their process. I read writing books and attended workshops, writing groups, and classes. No one source gave me the answers I needed, but each one seemed to offer some tidbit of wisdom I could apply to my own work.

Eventually, I felt like I had figured out the necessary components of a good story. I’m not saying I’m an expert, or that my books are perfect, just that I finally had something to go by—a road map of information I hadn’t seen elsewhere. I compiled what I’d learned and gave a well-attended presentation at my local library. So many people told me it was helpful that eventually I wrote a book called Write That Novel! to share my thoughts on the subject. I’m always pleased when I hear from writers who tell me it made all the difference in their own writing.

6) You discovered your talent for stories at an early age, how did it develop after that?

Like most writers, I was a reader before I was a writer, something that provided a firm base for me. In my school years, I was a pretty good student writer, finding writing assignments to be enjoyable and easy. But for years after that, I was a writer who didn’t write. I had this idea that someday I’d write a novel, but everyday life seemed to consume all my time and emotional energy.

When my youngest child was in preschool, I decided it was now or never. I joined a local writing group and started producing pages. At first I focused on essays about my life, and then gradually became confident enough to start a novel. Along the way I took a job writing freelance articles for a local newspaper

chain, making some money and validating me as a writer. For ten years I wrote novels, and even though I found literary agents to represent two of them, neither one sold to a publisher. It was only after I uploaded my books to Amazon’s Kindle in 2009 that I connected with readers.

The success of those early self-published novels led to a contract to have them traditionally published. I now have books published by Lake Union Publishing and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in both Kindle and paperback, as well as produced in audio by Brilliance Audio. In addition, my books have been translated into German, Czech, Turkish, Polish, and Korean. I never could have predicted the success I’ve had, but I’m certainly glad it happened.

7) You are a daydreamer and have embraced it, do you have any good advice for other dreamers who’d also love to be storytellers?

Before any of my novels were books, they were ideas in my head. I’m convinced that personality types prone to daydreaming make great novelists. Each person finds their own writing process, but personally, when I get stuck, I take a break for a day or two. And then, crazy as it sounds, as I’m falling asleep at night, I tell my brain to work on it, and very often, when I wake up, I have a solution to my story problem. So my advice to daydreamers is to trust the process. Chances are, you’re more creative and brilliant than you know.

8) Your stories have been published the traditional way and you also self-publish. What’s the best part of both of these options?

I love this question because there really are positives to both. For self-publishing, I love having complete creative control and I also love being able to make changes whenever I want. If the book isn’t selling well and I want to change the cover or description, no problem! I just do it. The same with running a promotion or making a price change. I’ve also produced the audio books of my self-published books, and had them translated into German, giving myself different revenue streams for the same book.

Being traditionally published has advantages as well. I love having a team behind me. Knowing that better minds than mine are working on the editing, cover art, and marketing plans takes a huge burden off my shoulders. Lake Union Publishing has been wonderful in respecting my creative choices while guiding my books to publication. And they’re also pretty amazing at connecting my novels with the readers most likely to enjoy them. It’s been a terrific partnership for me.

9) You write stories in all kinds of genres, what do you like most about the mix and how do you decide which genre your next book will be?

Although I admit it’s not the best strategy for a writer, I love writing different kinds of books. Generally speaking, I follow the idea, which is how I’ve wound up writing for kids, teens and adults, producing everything from a picture book, to a writing guide, to a paranormal series for young adults, to heartfelt novels for adults. Someone once told me I should pick a lane, but I like to drive in all of them, so it’s hard to decide.

10) What are your plans for the future?

My next few ideas happen to be more along the lines of Half a Heart, so maybe I’ll be in the same lane for the next year or so. Or maybe not.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of Half a Heart by Karen McQuestion.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

17 comments:

  1. Half a Heart sounds like a heart-wrenching and emotional story with great characters and love, loss and adventure.

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  2. Half A Heart sounds like a story that will grab hold and not let go. I'd love to read it. Such a thoughtful cover too.

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  3. Even in reading this review, my heart aches for this child-- and, for his whole family system. "Half a Heart" looks like a book that could pull on so many of your heartstrings, and I would love to read about the journeys of these characters. Also, I found it very enlightening to read the interview with the author-- it was interesting to learn about how she wrote the book sequentially.
    Thank you,
    --Ann

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  4. I have this book in my TBR!!

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  5. This is going to be another tear jerker, get the tissues ready.

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  6. It sounds very sad, the poor boy.

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  7. This sounds like a wonderful read. The cover is really compelling too.

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  8. Sounds like a good read x

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  9. This seems like a story that usually breakes my heart. But I so drawn to them. I'm excited to read it.

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  10. Wow, I think I'd just drown in this and escape the miseries of life lol!!!

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  11. Sounds captivating. Awesome interview.

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  12. I agree with Karen - why pick a lane when you can drive in all of them?

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  13. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Fingers crossed!

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  14. Sounds like a book that will really pull on your heart-strings

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