Young Adult writer Sharon Huss Roat to appear June 16. from 6 to 8 p.m.

Hockessin area Young Adult writer Sharon Huss Roat will be signing copies of her first release “Between the Notes” during a special appearance at the Hockessin Book Shelf next week. We sat down with Roat and talked about her new career as a Young Adult author.

Q: Tell us about your history as a writer, and how you got started.
A: I worked in public relations for more than 20 years, including 12 years with my own PR business, and did a lot of writing during that time. But I had never tried writing fiction until about six years ago. I was doing publicity for the Delaware Book Festival when I first got the idea to write a novel, which initially seemed ludicrous to me considering I’d never studied creative writing. I acquired a bunch of books on novel writing, poured over them, and spent another couple of months reading popular and critically-acclaimed YA novels before I wrote a single word. Then I dove in.

Q: What provoked your interest in telling stories for Young Adults?
A: Another author advised me to “write what you like to read,” and as I was re-reading one of the Harry Potter novels at the time, I decided to try writing for teens. I acquired a huge stack of popular and critically-acclaimed YA novels, and loved it all. I knew I was in the right place. Though my teen years are longer ago than I care to mention, it wasn’t difficult to remember my teen self and channel the intensity, self-discovery and emotion of those years.

Q: Do you draw much from real life experiences for your work?
A: My books are pure fiction, but I am often inspired by people and events in real life. The main character in “Between the Notes” suffers from stage fright, which was informed in part by friends who have dealt with it. I met a lovely family in which one of the children has an intellectual disability, and I talked to them at length to better understand how to portray Ivy’s little brother. I expect friends and family will see little bits and pieces throughout the novel that are familiar to them in some way.

Q: What advice would you give to young writers with the hopes of being published?
A: Read and write a lot. Repeat. Find other writers to serve as critique partners. Ask them to be brutally honest. Be open to their feedback. Revise accordingly! Repeat. Once you have a strong manuscript (it might not be your first one), go online and research “how to find a literary agent” and “how to write a query letter.” There are lots of resources available to help you through the process. I queried 30 agents before I was offered representation. I know authors who queried 80 or more, some on several different manuscripts before landing their agent. The submission process to publishers can take years before a sale is made. Be patient. Keep writing!