Interview with Shannon Bradley-Colleary, Author of To The Stars

21 Sep 2021

If you were in an elevator with a stranger and had one minute or less to describe To The Stars before the doors opened, what description would you give?

Secrets, lies, unrequited love and one unforgettable friendship all percolate in a small, Bible-belt, Oklahoma farming town circa 1961. 17-year-old Iris Deerborne is the beaten-down outcast both at home and at school, until stunning New Girl, Maggie Richmond, blows into town from the Big City and changes it all for the better. That is, until a secret Maggie harbors is revealed, and the repercussions unspool in throughout the community in unexpected, even dangerous ways.

What part of To The Stars was the hardest to write? What part was the easiest?

​For me, adapting the screenplay into novel form was hardest. In screenplays there’s very little description of the environment and the actions of characters because that will be fleshed out on screen.

But a novel requires painting those pictures for the reader. It was certainly a wonderful learning curve that I think I mastered, but it took a lot longer than I’d hoped.

The easiest piece to write was the narrative voice. In the film there is no narrator, there’s only the mention of a sad woman, Charlotte Owings, who drowned herself in Sumner Pond, which is Iris’s sanctuary because no one from town goes there anymore.

But in the book, Charlotte Owings suddenly raised her hand and asked me to become the narrator, which both surprised and delighted me. Despite having committed suicide in life, Charlotte as a narrator has a wry sense of humor in telling a beautiful, but sometimes, painful story.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

My Policeman by Bethan Roberts

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I’m drawn to woman authors, of which I am one. Edith Warton, Barbara Kingsolver, Sylvia Plath, Jane Austen (of course), Susanna Moore.

But my favorite book is Catcher In The Rye and my favorite Playwright is John Patrick Shanley.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write To The Stars

​My one quirky writing habit is chewing too many pieces of Bubble Yum — the best bubble gum ever due to its buttery finish.

I write in my breakfast nook where everyone in my family can interrupt me.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

​Every. Single. Chapter. Of Stephen Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” Every artist, writer, actor, director should read it.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading To The Stars what would it be?

​That just one true friendship can save your life.

Shannon Bradley-Colleary is the author of the new book To The Stars

Connect with Shannon Bradley-Colleary

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rebecca