Co-hosted by Hockessin Book Shelf

Hockessin based author Sharon Huss Roat, in conjunction with the Hockessin Book Shelf, is hosting a debut party for her latest Young Adult novel, “How to Disappear” at Woodside Farm and Creamery.

“How to Disappear” follows a 16-year-old girl suffering from social anxiety who “disappears” into the social media world, gaining followers and learning to break away from her fear of being seen by helping others like herself.

We sat down with Sharon to find out her reason for addressing so serious a topic, and the role social media plays in her family’s lives.

Q What made you want to write about such important subject matters?
A When I sit down to write, I usually start with a character and a situation, and the story grows from there. In the case of HOW TO DISAPPEAR, the main character (Vicky) has social anxiety and lives vicariously through social media as a way to deal with her isolation. It was during the process of writing her story that I delved into the issues she and her peers were facing, such as depression and bullying. My research into hashtags related to social anxiety revealed the extent to which many teens (and adults) are reaching out online to share their pain and connect with others, and that informed my writing.

Q What role does social media play in yours and your family's lives?
A I’m active on Instagram and Twitter as a way of connecting with readers, and on Facebook as way of staying in touch with family and friends. My teenaged children use SnapChat more than anything else, but I haven’t ventured there yet! HOW TO DISAPPEAR was partly inspired by my own occasional feelings of being left out of the action, which I think we all experience when we see friends (or, in my case, other authors) sharing their most fabulous moments. We all post our best days, best images, best times, and it’s easy to feel like everyone else’s life is more exciting than our own!

Q Are there other genres you wish to explore as a writer?
A I’ve written a historical YA novel in verse that I hope will be published someday, about an executioner’s daughter in 1662 France. And the book I’m working on now is magical realism with a nature theme. I love writing for and about young adults, because it’s such a fascinating time of life, and the YA community is a wonderful place to be. 

Q Any advice for aspiring YA authors?
A Write, revise, repeat! It was the sixth draft of my first manuscript that got me my agent, and we didn’t find a publisher for my work until I’d done several rewrites of a second novel. Find other writers you can work with as critique partners. Read widely, and immerse yourself in the YA community online where you’ll find lots of support and helpful advice.