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Life On Hold Paperback – April 1, 2011
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A Q&A with Karen McQuestion
Question: Your path to becoming a published author has been anything but traditional. You became an overnight success after self-publishing your books on Kindle, and a publishing contract with AmazonEncore followed shortly thereafter. What finally made you decide to take matters in your own hands by self-publishing your books? Was that a difficult decision?
Karen McQuestion: No, it was an easy decision! For years I tried to get published the traditional way. When I learned that anyone could self-publish an ebook (for free!), I decided I had nothing to lose. I’m very glad I took the plunge.
Question: What advice do you have for struggling writers out there who find themselves in the same position you did years ago with no publishing contract, but stories to share with the world?
Karen McQuestion: If you’ve gotten feedback from others, and are convinced your writing and stories are solid, take advantage of the new opportunities for writers today. Between blogs, online publications, and ebooks, writers can get their work in front of readers faster and easier than ever. And of course, keep writing, because that’s the only way to improve.
Question: Your first book, A Scattered Life, was a huge success--a Kindle bestseller (reaching #5 in the Kindle Store) with more than 100,000 copies sold and over 150 days in the top 100. What has this success been like?
Karen McQuestion: It’s been unbelievable. I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, appeared on ABC's World News Now and America This Morning, and the novel was optioned for film by an L.A. production company. But the best part? After years of having the novel languish on my hard drive, people were finally reading it and enjoying it.
Question: A Scattered Life is an adult novel. Your two new books, Favorite and Life on Hold are young adult novels. Have you always wanted to write for teens and young adults?
Karen McQuestion: I think young adult fiction has gotten smarter and better than when I was a teenager. When my daughter started reading YA novels, she’d recommend books to me. I found that I loved them and started to get ideas for YA novels I wanted to write.
Question: Life on Hold is about 15-year-old Rae Maddox who has spent her entire life on the move thanks to her mother. To protect herself, she’s decided to put her life on hold until she turns 18 and can make her own decisions. This is a really sad concept. Do you think a lot of teens out there can relate to Rae? If so, what do you hope they take away from this book?
Karen McQuestion: I think everyone can relate to the feeling that something in life is holding you back. If only you had a different job, or lost weight, or were done with school, or owned a car, things would be better and you could finally live the life you want. But the truth of the matter is that today is all we’ve got. A person could wish their life away if they don’t find things to appreciate in the here and now.
Question: Favorite has a mysterious element to it. Part thriller, part coming-of-age, it is about a young girl in search of her mother who went missing years before. Nothing--and no one--is quite as it seems in this book. Was it fun for you to write a story that has elements of a mystery/thriller in it? Do you think we’ll see more of this from you in the future?
Karen McQuestion: I loved writing the book, but since I don’t outline I had no idea how it was going to go. More than once, I wrote myself into a corner, which was a little scary. I’d love to write another book in this genre, but next time I’ll think it through beforehand.
From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-For 15-year-old Rae Maddox, home is wherever her mother finds a job, and each home doesn't last long. Gina, a manicurist by profession, won't tell Rae who her father is, and won't let her get too close to her grandparents. When they move to Wisconsin, near enough to her grandparents to visit, Rae hopes that she can finally settle down, make friends, and finish high school in one place. She makes two friends, does well academically, and even has a shot at romance. Then the vice principal asks Rae to help new student Allison adjust to the school. At first, Rae is put off by Allison's aloof attitude. As she and her mom learn about Allison's sad story and get drawn into her problems, Rae begins to discover more about her mother and her own troubled past. McQuestion's story (AmazonEncore, 2011) is interesting, and Rae is a typical teen whose main faults seem to be that she is bland enough to blend in wherever she goes and she tends to use a bit of profanity. Emily Beresford's narration is enthusiastic, but at times she is so emotional that it detracts from the story and becomes irritating. Still, this story featuring a strong protagonist who has mastered the art of being the new girl will appeal to girls who are fans of this genre.-MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is a beautiful and engaging story about realizing what is important in life and following your heart. Well written and enjoyable!! Karen McQuestion is undoubtly one of the best new authors around!!!!!!!!
This story completely threw me off track (in a good way). I thought the story was going to be about Rae being dragged from one town to another, but it's really about Alison's character.
Rae is so unassuming and lonely - but she discovers there's a lot worse off than she is when Alison arrives in her high school. Alison is secretive to the point of seeming rude and a snob. But somehow Raes' friends and mother take interest in her (miserable people tend to have that effect).
Rae doesn't know what to think, between Alison's sometimes manipulative attitudes and the very different account about her she hears from the school's bully, with whose family Alison lives.
Little by little, Rae puts together bits and pieces of Alison's past. Tension builds up as a major crisis later, everything comes to light.
This was not your typical teenage girls'story (by that I mean it's no juvenile version of Sex and the City - there's no clothes or hairstyle chats between girlfriends). It is, however, a story about nothing being quite what it seems on the surface, and how other human beings are mysterious worlds of their own - and how difficult it is to fit in as a teenager.
It's a good story. It's not tragic, it's not full of humour or suspense, it's more life-like - and I liked it!
The story is about a 15 year old girl who, along with her slightly flighty mother, moves every time the going gets tough. Now, she is 45 minutes away from the only other family she knows, her Grandparents who are so welcoming they even have a bedroom for her at their house. Her own bedroom where she can keep anything she wants while her mother drags her around the country.
After her mother promised they would stay in one place for the next two and a half years so Rae can graduate from High School where they currently life, Rae finally lets her guard down and beings to make a few friends.
Being the smart, responsible kid she is known to be, her Vice Principal matches her up with another new student who could use some help learning her way around the school. This opens Rae up to friendships she has never experiences before and pushes her to learn to stand up for herself to her mother.
Karen McQuestion has a knack for telling a story through a teenager's eye without making the reader feel like she is reading someone's diary. I was hooked at the start of the book and didn't want to put it down until the story was finished. She has a way of neatly wrapping up the story lines so the book feels complete and well rounded.
I recommend this book to any teenage girl or woman looking for a heartfelt coming of age story.
This is Karen McQuestion's best work. The characters are multifaceted, they're easy to root for, and realistic. I like books that I don't want to put down, because I can't wait to see what happens next and LIFE ON HOLD is just such a book. I gave the book 4 rather than 5 stars because I reserve 5 star ratings for books I can't wait to reread, and I didn't feel that way about LIFE ON HOLD. Still, it's a great read.