An interview with Carlie Sorosiak, the delightful author of If Birds Fly Back
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- In If Birds Fly Back, you have two main characters with an alternating POV. Did you originally envision the story this way?
Originally, I envisioned the entire novel from Linny’s perspective . . . but Sebastian’s voice kept edging in. I found him so organic to write. I also love dual POV narratives. I’ll Give You the Sun is my favorite YA novel.
- Do you have a background in physics or was there considerable research to make Sebastian’s character so knowledgeable?
I don’t have a background in physics, no; but I’ve always been interested in science. One of the best things about writing If Birds Fly Back was the chance to research things that I never learned in school. I read loads of books to support Sebastian’s character; I found those by Professor Brian Cox most interesting and accessible. He has a really fabulous book called Human Universe, which everyone should definitely check out!
- Using MomandDad as a single character through most of the book was something that I found really interesting. Can you talk about that?
I think that as most couples age, they start to develop mannerisms and habits that mirror each other. But really I wanted to use MomandDad as this overwhelming presence that Linny views as quite stifling; making them a singular character at the onset felt appropriate to me.
- Do you think Linny’s mom is the antagonist in your story? Do you think parents should play a big role in YA?
I think that, for a while, Linny might view her as the antagonist; in my view, however, she’s just a mom who wants the best for her children, and who doesn’t know the most sensitive way to express it. She’s also someone who has recently experienced a serious loss (her eldest daughter ran away from home six months before the story begins), so I’ve always felt quite a bit of sympathy for her. Yes, parents should absolutely play a big role in more contemporary narratives, because they do in real life. There was absolutely no one more influential growing up than my mom, and I think that a lot of people would answer similarly.
- What do you think are the most important relationships in the book besides Linny and Sebastian?
Linny and her parents is definitely one. Linny and her missing sister, Grace (and all the turmoil and feelings of abandonment that brings) is another. I’d argue that, almost equal in importance to Linny and Sebastian’s relationship, is Sebastian’s relationship with his father, Álvaro Herrera. It’s partially what drives Sebastian as a character: how he didn’t know his father growing up, and how that’s shaped him in many ways. Álvaro has always been my favorite character, and I loved writing the bittersweet scenes between him and Sebastian.
- Did you end the book thinking you might write a sequel? If so, will Grace make an appearance?
I never thought I’d write a sequel. I quite like where I left the characters. But I’ve always thought that I might write a short story about Grace, and what really happened to her when she was on the road. I’ll possibly get to it when my TBR pile is shorter, and when I’m not on deadline for other novels!
- Imagine If Birds Fly Back is made into a movie; who do you envision in the lead roles?
This is always such a difficult question! I’ll admit that I don’t have a ready answer. A reader during my UK tour did suggest Zendaya for Linny, though, and I support that wholeheartedly.
- What can your readers look forward to from you next?
My sophomore novel, Wild Blue Wonder, comes out in June 2018. It’s basically about a girl named Quinn whose family runs a summer camp (which may or may not have a sea monster), and when something awful happens at the camp, Quinn thinks it’s her fault. As she begins to heal, she starts to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined. I am so, so excited for you all to read it!