The Art of Not Breathing Advanced Review Copy – Expected Release: July 2016 in Australia
Re-Vu and Q/A by Annie
I’m rating this 4.5 stars, this was one depressing yet very interesting read as the element of mystery kept me in suspense and turning the page so quickly.. The structure of having 6 parts was also a creative way to tell this story – the story of Elsie who is from a highly dysfunctional family, who cops a hard time at school and whose twin brother disappeared under mysterious circumstances.. To deal with loss and her lapse in memory regarding her brother’s mysterious disappearance, Elsie takes up free diving, which is literally, the art of not breathing. During Elsie’s lessons she finds it’s helping her piece together what really happened that day her twin, Eddie, disappeared.. The book is really well written and easy to follow – again the mystery leaves your mind formulating various theories and holds you to the end.. I recommend this book to all YA Fans however due to some mature themes, it is not suitable for readers under the age of 15 years..
Special thanks to Harper Collins for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my review.
Q&A with Sarah Alexander
- The Art of Not Breathing is your debut novel, what inspired you to write this story and what does this story mean to you?
I’ve always been drawn to writing about grief and I wanted to explore the long term effects of a loss on family relationships. I love the ocean so that was always going to be in there, but the challenge was to write a story about the destructive power of something that’s so beautiful and a huge part of my life. To me, this story is about hope and letting go.
- Who is your target audience for ‘The Art of Not Breathing’? (are there particular people you believe would relate or benefit from this book?)
I don’t want to be prescriptive about who should read my book – I think anyone who likes sad and moody stories will enjoy it, whether they are a teenager or an older adult. But, I do hope that young adults in particular will be able to relate to Elsie and her world. It’s a sad story about a girl trying to cope with a loss and fit in, and I hope anyone who’s been through something similar will find a bit of light in this story.
- Why did you choose YA as a genre for your debut novel?
The books that have stayed with me the most are the ones I read as a child and a teenager, and I still read them now. I wanted to write a book that I would have enjoyed as a young adult.
- If ‘The Art of Not Breathing’ was going to be turned into a film adaptation, who would you like to see play the characters Elsie and Tay?
In my head, Tay looks like a bit like Dylan O’Brien, or a young Joe Jonas. Elsie is trickier to cast – I haven’t seen anyone quite like her, but if I had to choose, I’d go for Maia Mitchell or Olivia Cooke.
- Is ‘The Art of Not Breathing’ based on a true story?
No, it’s completely made up. The Black Isle is a real place, though, and people do go there to watch the dolphins. There’s a beautiful harbour there, too, but the boathouse is made up. I wish it did exist – I’d definitely hang out there.
- What is the story behind naming your characters Elsie and Tay?
Ooh, excellent question! I don’t think too much about names to begin with, I just put in placeholder names, the first ones that pop into my head, and then see what happens. Elsie was always Elsie. There’s a line in the book where Elsie says that her name trails off at the end and disappears into thin air, and once I’d written that I knew by each character. Tay took much longer. His placeholder name was Rob, and it never really suited him. I think it was the second draft when I realised that he needed a name with water link. I named him after the River Tay because he just goes with the flow.it was the right name for her. It’s so versatile, too – she gets called different names.
- Do you see yourself in any of the characters in your book?
There are little bits of me in each character. Elsie likes her own company and is happy to sit alone and ponder life – I do that a lot, too. Tay shares my love of the water, and is a little bit awkward in social situations. I studied hard at school, like Dillon does, and I always thought I was going to fail my exams.
- What is your secret to creativity while writing this book? eg: did you listen to music or eat chocolate?
A LOT of tea. Bucket loads. I’m most creative in a dark room with no distractions, though I do listen to music to help me feel the emotions I’m writing about. There are a lot of sad songs out there.
9. Cast your mind to 10 years ago, would you have pictured yourself publishing your first novel back then?
Ten years ago, I was gallivanting around world dreaming of getting my first novel published. It was only when I stopped dreaming and started writing that it became a possibility.
10. Do you like reading? What is your favourite genre?
Reading is like breathing – it’s something I just do. YA contemporary is my favourite genre but I read all sorts of things, and I love non-fiction too.
11.If you had the chance to go on a dinner date with a literary character, who would it be and why? In my case, I would LOVE to have a dinner date with Tobias Eaton – aka – Four from Divergent Series.
Great choice! I would love to go on a dinner date with Alexander Barrington from my favourite book, The Bronze Horseman, because he makes the best ice cream.
12.Where is your ultimate holiday destination? I
love travelling and try to go to new countries every year, but this year I’m returning to one of my favourite places – Wales. I’m planning to walk in the mountains, sit by the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet.
13.Did you have input with the beautiful cover of “The Art of not Breathing”? It’s so beautiful!!!
I got to say what kind of covers I liked, and sent a few examples but I didn’t see it until it was finished. I’m over the moon with it.
- As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Always ask yourself ‘Why?’ Why does this happen? Why does your character do/say this? And then, make sure you know the answer.
The top 10: This or That
- Ice cream or Ice Block?
What’s an ice block? Like a giant ice cube? I used to love crunching ice cubes but my teeth are too sensitive these days. So, ice cream – triple scoop: vanilla, double chocolate and honeycomb.
- Library or Bookstore?
That’s a hard one! Probably bookstore – mainly because they are more likely to have cake. I do love beautiful old libraries, though.
- Chicken or Beef?
Lasagne is one of my favourite meals.
- Winter or Summer?
Summer. I need sun in my life. That’s like two weeks in the UK – better make the most of them.
- Tea or Coffee?
Definitely tea – there’s something very calming about a nice cup of tea and a sit down (with dunkable biscuits, obviously).
- Bungee Jump or Sky Dive?
I like both but I’d have to go with sky diving because it really is like flying. You get to do some crazy acrobatics and spinning, and then you just sit back and enjoy the ride.
- Favourite Colour:
Red and green, though not necessarily together.
- Ultimate Holiday Destination:
I would love, love, love to go to the Yap islands in Micronesia. The diving there sounds incredible.
- Famous last words:
Everything will be OK