"Emmi, a 16-year old champion soccer player struggles to maintain a normal life, while she waits for a heart transplant, and learns the truth about love, loss and the meaning of true friendship in the process."
What kind of research did you do prior to writing?
I had the opportunity to speak with many heart transplant recipients as well as to read other patients' stories on-line. Sometimes, the things they told me gave me great ideas for plot. Once, one of them told me how she had written letters to her family in case she died. I couldn't believe it--I had already had Emmi do that.
Medically, I had the backup of my husband, who is a cardiologist and cares for patients waiting for transplants, so I didn't have to do any hands-on medical research--I could just turn to the guy next to me at the dinner table and ask questions.
What inspired you to write Change of Heart?
My husband is a cardiologist and my daughter was born with a heart defect, inspiring me to co-write The Parents' Guide to Children's Congenital Heart Defects with my friend Gerri Freid Kramer, so things relating to the heart were often discussed in my house. One night my husband and his patient were featured on a Discovery Health program that Dr. Oz had put together on heart transplants. One of the other patients in the program was a young girl. I watched as they wheeled her into the operating room and that look on her face--a mixture of excitement and pure fear--just haunted me. I started to think about the what ifs: what if she was a teen and what if she was an athlete and things like that and before I knew it, Emmi was born.
What was your road to publishing like?
Long and curvy. My agent had submitted Change of Heart to WestSide Books in September of 2008. We really liked everything we had read about them and thought Change of Heart would be a good fit there. We waited a very long time and had pretty much assumed that it was being rejected. One day in May 2009 my agent got a letter from the editor at WestSide Books--they wanted Change of Heart. I was at my son's baseball game when I got the call from my agent and it was pretty difficult to focus on 8 year old baseball after that!
If you could bring any one character from your book to life who would it be and why?
Everyone tells me they really like Abe. We both share a love of old rock bands, so we'd probably have a lot to talk about. Of all of the characters, he may be the strongest and the least concerned about what anyone thinks. Though if you told him he was the strongest, he'd probably make a self-deprecating joke and change the subject.
What is your favorite adjective? Why?
Healthy. I just read a review of Change of Heart that mentioned she took from the book that you shouldn't take anything, particularly your health for granted. I'm not even sure that I consciously meant for that to be the theme, but it is so much of how I live. My husband comes home every day and has awful, sad stories about lovely people who are extremely sick. All I want in this life is for my family and friends to stay healthy. Well, and maybe also world peace. A girl can dream, right?
What’s next for you?
As we submitted Change of Heart and waited, my wise agent kept telling me to keep my head down and keep writing. I did and completed a book I really love. We're working on finding it a home, so hopefully I'll have some news on that soon. I'm happily at work on a new book and am looking forward to having some stretches of uninterrupted writing time this summer to polish my very rough, but promising, first draft.
While promoting Change of Heart, we've been working with the New York Organ Donor Network to get the word out on Organ Donor Registration. At my book launch party we registered a bunch of new donors and I really want people to give some good consideration to registering (you need to be 18 or over, but if you're not, please encourage people you know who are over 18 to register--and then do so yourself when you're old enough). You can get more info at http://donatelife.net/
Thank you, Shari!