I’m back with another book tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. This week there’s a tour for the Graphic Novel Just Pretend by Tori Sharp and I got to interview the author! So keep on reading to find out more about this book and what questions I asked Tori!
Just Pretend by Tori Sharp
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Publishing Date: May 18, 2021
Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce. Tori has never lived in just one world.
Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.
Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.
Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships.
Hi Tori! First of all, thank you so much for doing this interview with me, I’m so honoured! Could you introduce yourself and your book a bit?
Hi Marloes, I’m so happy to be chatting with you today! I’m the author and illustrator of Just Pretend, my debut (and now bestselling!) graphic memoir from Little, Brown. It’s about growing up with divorced parents and using stories (both reading and writing) to cope with change and figure out your emotions. I am also a swing and blues dancer, a board game enthusiast, and best friend to my tiny poodle, Annie.
How did you get the idea for Just Pretend?
I got the idea for Just Pretend because I wanted to write about what it was like to have divorced parents when I was growing up. At first I tried making up a fictional story where the main character had divorced parents, but it all felt so interconnected with my own childhood that I realised it would be much more straightforward (and hopefully more impactful) to write a true story about my own life.
Why did you want to write this story?
Living in multiple homes as a kid has a lot of obvious complexities, but there are layers and layers to it that you might not even think of unless you’ve lived it, so I wanted to write a book with more nuance about that kind of living situation than I’d seen in other stories. I also wanted to write this as a love letter to the young writer’s first manuscript—there is something so magical about discovering a love for a craft that’s so full of possibilities.
What is your favourite scene in the story?
I feel like my answer for this changes every day, but today I’m thinking about the scene in Tori’s fantasy novel where Penny and Amari are talking in the ruins of the hall of statues. A lot of these scenes probably have extra meaning to me as the author that very few readers will fully pick up on! To me that scene has to do with figuring out how to fight for and protect a friendship (or other kind of relationship) after there has been a big shift, like when one person moves away or when they’re going through a really hard time and are being more distant. There’s not always a clear solution about what to do, but I think there are lots and lots of decision points in all of our relationships where we have to decide how to help the other person and also have to ask ourselves what we need, or even come to terms with the idea that it might never be quite the same!
What’s your favourite Graphic Novel series?
I love Svetlana Chmakova’s BERRYBROOK MIDDLE SCHOOL series of graphic novels, starting with AWKWARD and BRAVE. The author seems to really understand kids and what matters to them so well and tackles big topics in such a marvelous way. Those books are super fun and cute, and I love how each book follows a different main character in the school but they’re all so interconnected.
What is something you hope your readers will get from reading Just Pretend?
I hope readers will come away from reading Just Pretend feeling secure and confident in using their imaginations. Sometimes “playing pretend” can seem childish to kids, and they might start feeling insecure about things like watching cartoons, role-playing, or reading fantastical stories, but in my experience using your imagination is a very grown-up thing to do. (It is how I built and sustain my career!)
What is an author dream of yours that you’re hoping will be fulfilled?
I would love to see fan-art of my published characters!! I just love drawing so much and think it would be awesome to see my characters in other people’s art styles. I guess it would be kind of funny to see fan-art of any of my real-life friends and family from Just Pretend (though that would still be pretty cool), but I’d love-love-love to see drawings of Talia or Penny or (someday) characters from my future books!
If you’re curious about what others thought of this book then click here for the full tour schedule. You can see all of the other amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers that are participating on this tour!
About the Author
Tori Sharp is a Seattle-based author-illustrator and swing and blues dancer with a BFA in sequential art from SCAD. You can find her online at http://www.noveltori.com and on Twitter @noveltori. Just Pretend is her debut graphic novel.