Author Spotlight: Tara St. Pierre

Let’s welcome YA author Tara St. Pierre and her new book Just a Few Inches:

Hello Tara! Tell us all sorts of stuff about your book!

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Thanks for having me here to promote my book.

 

What is the book about?

It’s about a high school senior named Carrie. At the start of the story, she’s a little insecure about her looks, particularly when compared to her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, who happens to be the captain of Carrie’s cheerleading squad. The Valentine’s Dance is coming, and Carrie wants to look beautiful for her boyfriend, but the one dress she finds is a size too small for her. Of course at that moment, her rival—who would fit the dress perfectly—enters, so Carrie buys the dress.

With only a week until the dance, Carrie resorts to weight-loss pills, and she takes more than the recommended dose. They work, and she fits in the dress and has a wonderful time at the dance. But the pills work too well, and not only does she keep losing weight, but she loses height also. She is shrinking, and her doctor desperately searches for a cure before it’s too late.

Navigating high school and dating can be enough of a challenge, but when everything and everyone around her keeps getting larger, it can be scary and dangerous. The media is interested in her story, and she becomes an online sensation, whether she likes it or not.

The book explores issues of body image, self-esteem, and the role of media and social media in sending mixed messages of how we view “ideals” of beauty and ourselves.

 

How did you come up with the story?

When I was younger, I remember enjoying cartoons and movies with miniaturized kids. Such stories used the shrinking for adventure or fantasy rather than use it to illustrate a theme. I wanted to do something more serious, so I thought about what could cause a young adult character to start shrinking, which led me to the idea of weight loss. I liked the idea because I could explore the theme of body image from a new and unique perspective.

 

Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?

Since the story is told from Carrie’s point of view, I lived a long time inside her head, so it’s hard not to identify with her now. But I also identify with Evan because I’m a bit of a math and science lover too.

 

What is your writing process like?

The process for this book was a long one. I first came up with the idea in the mid-90s, and I started writing immediately. I got about six or seven chapters in when I realized I didn’t know how the story was going to end. I had some ideas for big plot events, but I didn’t have an outline. The story sat unfinished as I switched from computer to computer to laptop over the years.

Years turned to decades, and it wasn’t until the end of 2013 when I finally figured out how Carrie’s story ended. The path to get there was clear. I wrote and wrote and wrote until I was done, and the story was over 162,000 words long—far too long for a Young Adult novel.

I’m grateful to my beta readers who told me which parts worked really well and had to stay, and which parts didn’t work so well and could be removed. The revision process was difficult at times, but it forced me to tighten up the story and ultimately present something that I’m extremely proud of. I only hope that people like it and take something from it.

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Thanks for dropping by, Tara.

I’ve already read Just a Few Inches and enjoyed it thoroughly. I think everyone should pick up a copy because I don’t think there’s another story quite like it.

Connect with Tara at:          Facebook          Twitter

The book is Just a Few Inches

JustAFewInches-half
Available in eBook and Paperback editions at:

Amazon          Apple          Barnes & Noble

Book Summary

All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller.

To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates.

Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be.

Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems—problems that are growing more terrifying every day.

Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.


Excerpt

I slowly turned to Trish, who normally stood at a height about halfway between me and Lauren, but it was clear that she was slightly taller than me.

We stared at one another in awkward silence. I wasn’t sure what to say, and I could tell they weren’t sure either. We all knew for a fact that I was supposed to be taller than both of them, and I doubted that both of them sprouted up a few inches over the weekend. But if they hadn’t grown, then the only other explanation was that I must have gotten shorter. Before I could dwell on that unlikely possibility, Janelle appeared in the doorway and hollered at us to get out to the gym.

I tried keeping my mind on the game instead of worrying, but every time I bounced, a bra strap would slide off, constantly reminding me that something strange had happened to my body.

It was worse during our half-time routine. Towards the end, the squad split up into groups, each holding someone up in the air and letting her fall back into our arms. I was part of a group of five girls helping to lift Trish. My job was to cup my hands underneath Trish’s right foot while she was raised into the air. Two of the other girls held her calves in place, a third spotted from behind, and Janelle had her left foot since she and I were supposed to be the same height. I found myself having to stretch my legs and arms more than I should have needed to keep Trish’s feet even.

When Todd found me after the game, I clung to him, and he innocently said, “Stand up straight so I can rest my chin on your head.”

“I am standing up straight,” I mumbled.

Then came an awkward moment where we both looked at my legs and feet to verify my claim. I was definitely shorter than I had been the week before. Todd simply stared at me, not knowing what to say.

Lauren witnessed the incident, and we gave the details to Trish in my car, after I adjusted the driver’s seat forward one click. Keeping one hand on the steering wheel while the other wiped away tears collecting in my eyes, I asked, “What’s happening to me?”

From the back seat, Lauren put her hand on my shoulder. “Don’t panic. There’s got to be a logical reason why you’ve gotten shorter.”

“People don’t get shorter!”

“It might be some weird side effect of those pills. You did take a lot of them.”

Her voice had a told-you-so tone to it, but she was right. How could I have been so stupid, so careless, so desperate? “What should I do?”

Sitting in the passenger seat, Trish turned to me and flailed her arms as she spoke. “If you stopped taking them, the effect will reverse itself. That’s how it works with my mom. She always puts the weight back on no matter what diet she tries.”

In my rearview mirror, I could see Lauren roll her eyes before asking, “You still have the pills, right? First thing you’ve got to do is tell your mother—”

The car swerved as I exclaimed, “No way! I can’t tell her! She’ll freak out when she finds out what I did.”

“She’s going to figure it out. She knows how tall you’re supposed to be. Look how quickly Todd noticed.”

“There are ways to make you look taller,” said Trish. “All it takes is the right pair of shoes until this wears off.”

There was an uncomfortable silence. I was pretty sure Lauren and Trish were wondering the same thing I was wondering: what if it didn’t wear off?

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