Looking in on "The Bright Side"

I recently read and reviewed S. R. Johannes' tween novel On the Bright Side, first in her Starling series, and was delighted to get the opportunity to interview the author. A novel filled with zany puns, heavenly remakes of modern technology, green issues and high school disasters... where does it all come from? Well, here's your chance and mine to find out, plus some interesting hints on the joys of writing and getting published.

Me.        Hi. And thanks for joining me. I enjoyed reading On the Bright Side and have to say, the heroine Gabby’s voice sounds so very convincing. Did you have a particular teenager in mind when you created her?
SRJ. My self. I was kinda grumpy when I was a tween. I think I got in more fights about boys in middle school than in high school.
Me.        I really liked the way you wove many religious ideas into the start (and anchored them in Gabby’s test in school). Did you have to do lots of research to get the ideas?
SRJ. I am very corny so those cheesy links come to me naturally – sadly :)
Me.        Your novel includes some beautiful touches for anyone made uncomfortable by thoughts of death and dying. What inspired you to write it?
SRJ. I have watched shows where people say they died for a few minutes and describe what they saw. They always talked of death in such a positive light. In fact, some of them didn’t want to come back and suffered depression b/c they wanted to stay in the peaceful beautiful place they saw. There are so many dark books about death. I wanted to flip it and see if I could do a positive and funny book about the AfterLife.
Me.        I really enjoyed how you used such modern issues in your "afterlife." Are you addicted to technology?
SRJ. Yes! I have to force myself to put away all gadgets when kids are around. I have xbox, ipad, iphone, itouch, and mac air. You name it I have it.
Me.        What about recycling? Are you avidly “green?” Do you drive a hybrid car?
SRJ. I am semi green – maybe more like lime green. I recycle the best I can and pay attention to my thermostat, lights etc. But I do not drive a hybrid – though I would like to!
Me.        Do you have a dog (Hey, I have to ask about dogs)? Do you think rabbits go to heaven?
SRJ. I have a dog. Just had 2 die a year ago. And yes I think there is a pet heaven. My 8 year old is convinced dogs are assigned a cloud as a bed. We even sent a balloon carrying a doggie bone up in the air. I don’t want my kids to be scared of death – it prevents you from living. It makes me feel good to think of something else out there. Something I am working towards. This can't be it.
Me.        Do you like roller-coasters?—screamer or silent rider? (You'll have to read the book to see why I'm asking this.)
SRJ. Hate them. I am petrified of death which is why I don’t want my kids to be. I’ve always been scared of dying – especially since I had my kids. This book was healing for me. But not that healing :)
Me.        I loved all the “no-pun-intended” puns. Are you as funny in real life as you are in your writing?
SRJ. Yes I am hilarious. ;) My hubby says Im the only one that laughs at my own jokes. But I think other people laugh = they just don’t laugh as loud as I do :) I am sillier than I am funny. But I definitely look at life in a funny way.
Me.        That makes sense, and this looks like being a really fun series. I really like how this first story is so complete in itself as well. When is book two coming out?
SRJ. No clue. When it was almost bought by a big house, I had to submit book 2 and 3 synopsis so I know what happens. I just have to write it. I wasn’t planning to do that unless this one gets a good response.
Me.     That sounds great, and congratulations. I'm sure On the Bright Side will get a good response. Meanwhile, one final question: Life after death is sort of a wraparound theme, but I felt like this novel was more about doing the right thing with life, whether here or hereafter. What do you think the theme is?
SRJ. The theme is appreciating your life – no matter where it is. Accepting what happens and thinking about how the way you treat others – impacts them and you. Whether indeirectly or directly.
Me. Thank you so much for visiting my blog, and for letting me review your book.

Untraceable - Coming Nov 29th!
A new young adult wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course - two hot boys.
Available in paperback and ebook at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and other sellers.
Find out more about S.R. Johannes, and find advice on YA writing, marketing etc. at her blog http://www.faeriality.blogspot.com/

or look for On the Bright Side on Amazon...

On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets 
completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future. 

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.


Sheila Deeth said…
Thank you so much for joining me today!
Really enjoyed this interview. I love your take on life! The book sounds great fun. Good luck with it

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