Finalist Spotlight

Becky Wallace

Becky Wallace is the award-winning author of FAR FROM NORMAL, STEALING HOME, and the fantasy duology THE STORYSPINNER and THE SKYLIGHTER. She’s a sucker for slow-burn romances, near-miss kisses, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Becky worked for a minor league baseball team and as an editor of a sports marketing magazine before settling down in Houston, Texas, with her husband, four children, and one very fluffy puppy. If she’s not writing, you’ll find her baking sweet treats or pretending she’s still a competitive ballroom dancer.

Becky Wallace on her Whitney Awards Finalist novel, Far From Normal

What was the inspiration for your Whitney Awards finalist novel?

FAR FROM NORMAL was inspired, in part, by my own experiences working in sports marketing, often as the only female on staff. Even now, close to thirteen years later, the number of women in executive roles for sports teams/sports marketing firms is very low. But it’s such a fun, rewarding career field and I’d love to see more young women giving it a shot!

I also feel like many YA books focus on characters who are *extraordinary*–they have magical powers or an incredible talent. It’s not realistic and it’s not fair for readers to compare themselves with fictional people. I wanted Maddie, the main character in FAR FROM NORMAL, to be someone we can all relate to. In her mind, she’s painfully average, but wants to be special. And don’t we all? I love that her story helps her discover that her real talents aren’t easily categorized.

What was the tipping point that turned this novel from “just an idea” to a project you HAD to complete?

Chapter Two of FAR FROM NORMAL (aka the bike crash scene) is based on a true and painfully embarrassing story. I wrote that chapter and then the document sat for five years until I figured out the right plot. Once I’d pinned down why Maddie was in Chicago and how the bike crash could have been the worst possible thing to happen, the story flowed from there. I wrote the first draft in 26 days. It literally fell off my fingers.

How did this book evolve into the final story? Did it end up the way you thought it would, or did the plot or characters change along the way?

Thanks to my editor, Ashley Hearn, and a well-hashed out synopsis, the plot of FAR FROM NORMAL didn’t change dramatically from Draft 1 to Draft 7. The one thing that changed the most were the character goals and motivations. So much tension comes from taking away or putting something at risk that a character really wants. It keeps the pacing tight and the reader engaged. Ashley really helped me find ways to keep the story fast, while giving room for character development.

Who is your favorite secondary character, and why?

My favorite secondary character is Watford the dog. Dead serious. He has such a great personality and provides Maddie with so much comfort and love when she’s struggling. I was going through cancer treatment while I drafted and edited FAR FROM NORMAL, and Watford’s character is a little nod to my sweet dog. She’s sitting on my feet as I type this.

If your book was made into a movie, which scene would you want to be a background extra in?

There’s a gala that happens late in the book and I think it would be fun to dress up in a really fabulous dress and have someone do my hair and makeup.