I’m so excited to have local 2019 debut author Erin Stewart on the blog today! I had the tremendous privledge of reading an advance copy of Scars Like Wings, and it was by far the most moving and beautiful story I’ve read all year. Reading this book is an experience that’s hard to describe. You’ll laugh, you’ll cheer for the main character, and you will most definitely cry. Ultimately, you’ll walk away from this book with a very full heart.
You most definitely need this one on your fall TBR. Read all about this phenomenal book as well as Erin’s journey to publication below! Erin also has an incredible pre-order campaign going, so check it out here!
About the Book
Relatable, heartbreaking, and real, this is a story of resilience–the perfect novel for readers of powerful contemporary fiction like Girl in Pieces and Every Last Word.
Before, I was a million things. Now I’m only one. The Burned Girl.
Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.
A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.
But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.
“A heartfelt and unflinching look at the reality of being a burn survivor and at the scars we all carry. This book is for everyone, burned or not, who has ever searched for a light in the darkness.” –Stephanie Nielson, New York Times bestselling author of Heaven Is Here and a burn survivor
Q&A with Erin Stewart
1. SCARS LIKE WINGS is such a moving and poignant story. Where did the inspiration for this novel come from?
Marius, a friend of mine, was burned and severely scarred by a house fire as a child in Romania. Now 20, Marius’ story has always inspired and intrigued me, not only because of the power of his tragedy, but because he chooses every single day not to let it define him. He has had children run screaming from him. He has had bullies call him Freddy Krueger. I wanted to write a story that would go to these dark, lonely parts of tragedies like his, but also to the beautiful, hopeful parts. As Marius has told me, the only way he survived was because every time he wanted to give up, someone was there, helping him choose to live. I hope Ava’s story can show readers that we all have a choice after a life-changing event: We can choose to be alone, isolated and angry that our normal is gone, or we can let people in and find a new normal, together.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about what the querying and submission process was like for SCARS LIKE WINGS?
I actually wrote SCARS LIKE WINGS while my agent was on submission with another book. That book never sold (thank goodness…I’m so glad now it wasn’t my debut book!) and that agent and I parted ways. Then there were about 6 months where I tried to find a new agent and regretted all my life decisions. But when Brianne Johnson at Writer’s House called me and she connected with SCARS in such an incredible way, it was a perfect match! I just love Bri, plus there’s the fact that she sold SCARS LIKE WINGS in three days. Seriously, she’s amazing. So basically, years of self-doubt and struggle, three days to a book deal. Why is publishing like this?!
3. Where were you and what were you doing when you found out SCARS LIKE WINGS was going to be published?
I can remember exactly because I was at home changing my 18-month-old son’s diaper. I was so overwhelmed that I sat down in his rocking chair with him running around totally naked and started crying on the phone with my agent. Then I called my husband, who cried in a work meeting. So lots of crying and nudity—isn’t that how every book deal should go?
4. Is there anything about your debut year that surprised you so far?
Honestly there hasn’t been much that hasn’t surprised me! I think the biggest curveball for me is just how much of your book is out of your hands once a publisher is in the picture. It’s still my words, but it kind of becomes everybody’s story. It’s a weird feeling to share your baby like that, but honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love that so many people are invested in the success of this book and in sharing Ava’s story with the world!
5. What has been the most fun or exciting moment of your publication journey?
My kids would definitely say the foreign sales because they think the actual country is buying my book. Italy bought Mom’s book! Germany wants it! For me, it’s been so exciting to have reviews from readers come in who get my story and connect with Ava and Piper in such a strong way. It’s very surreal, though, having these characters that have lived in my head so long be out and about in the world. It’s an amazing feeling to have readers care about these characters as much as I do!
6. What do you plan on doing to celebrate the launch of SCARS LIKE WINGS?
Work on the next book, of course! I’m under deadline for Book 2 so I’ll definitely be working hard on that, but I’ll probably take a day off when SCARS comes out to walk wistfully through several bookstores and stare at my book on the shelf. Isn’t that the dream?
7. If you could give any one piece of advice to other aspiring authors, what would it be?
Keep writing! I know everyone says it but it’s because it’s really the only tried-and-true piece of advice that works every single time. If you’re feeling anxious, keep writing. Feeling depressed, write! If you’re feeling like you’ve just written the greatest masterpiece of all time, that’s great, but keep writing!
8. Can you tell us anything about the other projects you’re working on at this time?
Yes! I’m working on my next book, which is another young adult contemporary, totally unrelated to SCARS LIKE WINGS. The book is about living with mental health issues and is based on my own experience with anxiety. I read so many books (great ones!) about heavier-hitting mental health issues, but I felt like there wasn’t much out there for kind of generalized anxiety and everyday battles against the what-if monster. With social media and all the intense pressure on teens today, I think we need to look at what anxiety is doing to this generation and how many are suffering silently.
About the Author
Erin Stewart is the author of SCARS LIKE WINGS, her debut novel. Erin is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and a BYU undergraduate who works as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a weekly columnist in Salt Lake City.
Erin lives in Utah with her husband and three children. She is represented by the amazing Brianne Johnson of Writers House.