About the Author:
Rachele Alpine is a lover of sushi, fake mustaches, and Michael Jackson. One of her first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. By day she’s a high school English teacher, and by night she writes with the companionship of the world’s cutest dog, Radley, a big cup of coffee, and a full bag of gummy peaches. Rachele lives with her husband in Cleveland, Ohio, but dreams of moving back to Boston, the city she fell in love with while attending graduate school there.
MF: Canary is one of my favorite books of 2013. Did your position as a high school teacher have any influence on the story or characters?
RA: Thanks so much! I definitely think that being a high school teacher helped influence my story and characters. I’m surrounded by teenagers all day, so I can’t help but be a part of their lives. I have firsthand knowledge of what they worry about, what makes them happy, how they talk and act with their friends. Teaching gives me a close-up view of the life of a teenager, and I think that helps make my writing more authentic.
MF: Are you represented by an agent? If so, tell us how you found each other. If not, tell us about your querying process.
RA: John Rudolph of Dystel and Goderich represents Canary. I found him through the slush pile route. I had actually queried Michael Bourett, but he thought my book was something John would love and passed my query on to him. I signed with John and Canary sold shortly after. It was actually a whirlwind. It sold right before my wedding, so I was communicating and talking contracts with John during my honeymoon halfway around the world!
MF: Canary deals with issues that aren’t normally acknowledged. In fact, it brings to light behaviors that should be condemned. Is the finished product your original vision or did you have to make compromises to get it published?
RA: I was lucky to have a great editor. All of the suggestions she made with Canary were ones I was happy with and made the novel better. I never felt that I was compromising anything, however, we did remove some profanity from the book because I thought it was important to make sure that it would be able to be read in a school. Sadly, books are often challenged because of the language.
MF: You wrote a blog post about the development of the cover for Canary. Do covers influence you when buying books?
RA: I know my students are influenced by book covers, but as for me, I choose a book more on word of mouth. I love to get book recommendations from people and usually read books from their suggestions. I’m also obsessed with my Kindle Paperwhite (it goes everywhere with me!), so I never even really see book covers when I’m reading on that.
MF: What were your goals and intentions in writing Canary? Do you feel you achieved them?
RA: One of the goals of writing this book was to write a story that is never compromised, which I believe I have done. I told the story I needed to tell, and I never held back. This also relate to the message in Canary of always speaking up no matter what the cost. When I sit down to write a story, I don’t think about what other people may say or feel about the book, I write it for me and make sure my story is honest and true.
MF: Another of my favorite books of 2013 is Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. Do you think Kate Franklin and James Whitman would be friends in real life?
RA: I love Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets! I think Kate and James would be friends. Both care about their siblings something fierce and would do pretty much anything for them.
MF: What’s next for Rachele Alpine? Are you working on another novel?
RA: I have a MG novel on sub right now called OPERATION PUCKER UP. It about a girl who lands the lead in her middle school’s play. She’s ecstatic until she finds out she has to kiss the male lead. She’s never kissed anyone before, so her friends launch Operation Pucker Up to get her her first kiss before she has to do it on stage.
Right now I’m working on my agent’s edits for a YA novel called BACK TO THE START. It’s about sisters, a missing girl, and a kiss that shouldn’t have happened. I’m pretty much in love with it and the story it’s becoming.
MF: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer? What has been the best compliment?
RA: I think I’ve had to grow a thick skin when querying and subbing. It only takes one agent or one editor to love my book, but it’s hard to remember that when you get rejections back on a book that you love.
The best compliment is when my students read my book. I wrote the book for them, and I love when they connect to the book and come to talk to me about how much they like it. It’s such an awesome feeling to see them all with copies of Canary.
MF: Aside from polished and engaging writing, what three things do you think every new writer must do in order to succeed in this highly competitive and ever-changing industry?
RA: 1) Read – I think it’s just as important to read. You should read as much (if not more) than you write. Read books with an insatiable appetite and never stop.
2) Write what you love and not to trends or what you think is selling.
3) Don’t get discouraged. The publishing world can move slowly, you can get a lot of rejections, people may not like your book – you always need to hold onto that love of writing and write for that and not for fame, success, or recognition.
MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
RA: Anything by John Green. I love how witty and deep his characters are (along with their sense of humor!). I’d love to hang out with all of them. I think we’d have a really good time!
Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete.
But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.
Missy does not participate in any affiliate programs and receives no compensation from the sale of this book.