I was lucky enough to read an early copy of 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons and instantly fell in love with the story. About writer and blogging and waffles, and a boy who is so positive and adorable – stole my heart ah!
Here’s the blurb:
Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.
Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.
Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.
100 Days of Sunlight is a poignant and heartfelt novel by author Abbie Emmons. If you like sweet contemporary romance and strong family themes then you’ll love this touching story of hope, healing, and getting back up when life knocks you down.
This story touched my heart, broke it and filled it with hope. So I immediately contacted Abbie and asked her if she would like to answer some questions. I’m so grateful that she agreed to do this and include me on her book tour!
1. What inspired you to write 100 Days of Sunlight?
One day I was thinking about my own lifestyle and how much I use my sense of sight for everything I do: blogging, writing, making videos, reading, everything — and then I thought how different all that would be if, for some reason, I suddenly went blind. I pondered this thought for a few hours, and then suddenly the idea struck me: blogger girl loses her eyesight, meets a boy with no legs (unbeknownst to her) and he helps her overcome her struggles. That was all I had at the start, but it was enough to totally steal my heart and make me want to write the book IMMEDIATELY.
2. What was the most difficult part of writing the book? How much did the final story change from its first draft?
The most difficult part was probably all the research – but it was also really fascinating and educational, so I didn’t mind it. But it’s always tricky writing about something you haven’t personally experienced… it can make you feel unqualified to write it. But I’m glad I pushed through the moments of self-doubt and wrote forward, remembering why the story mattered to me, and the light I hope to shine in the dark places.
Because I do so much outlining before I write the first draft, I don’t ever have to write an entirely new “second draft”. With 100 Days of Sunlight, I didn’t change much during the editing process. It was mostly a matter of line/copy editing and polishing everything…over and over again. When I edit a first draft, I typically don’t change anything about the story itself – since I worked that out in my outline. But my writing does need lots of editing and rewording. I recently did a video showing side-by-side comparisons of my first draft and final draft of 100 Days, which explains my editing process pretty well.
3. How does your research process go about? Do you first write your draft and then research while editing or do you research first?
I always do a lot of research before I write the first draft. Especially with a book like 100 Days, where a lot of my characters’ stories involved their disabilities and lifestyle, I wanted to make sure I was writing everything accurately the first time. Of course, during the editing process I was able to do even more research and fill in lacking areas with more details, but for the most part I did all my research beforehand.
It was such a fascinating journey to research and write about Tessa and Weston’s disabilities. I read A TON of articles, blog posts, first-hand accounts, more blog posts, watched videos, vlogs, asked questions, rinse, repeat. The researching process was long and daunting, but always educational and eye-opening. Also, my editor had worked as a sighted guide at a center for the blind so she was able to give me some great input on Tessa’s condition and experiences.
4. I’m pretty sure you too must have been through creative blocks. What do you do to get back on track?
Do something totally different! Maybe that’s another creative expression, working out, road-tripping somewhere, or just taking the day off to go see a movie or take a country drive — anything that breaks the vicious cycle of feeling stuck. I find the best way to get inspired is to break free from the habits and routines I lock myself into. Doing something adventurous and fun may seem like “a waste of time”, but sometimes it’s the exact thing you need to boost your productivity!
5. Was it difficult writing from the POV of a boy?
No, it actually wasn’t! There was a time when I struggled a lot with writing from a boy’s POV because I thought there was some Male Voice™ ability that only male writers have. But over the years, I’ve learned that this just isn’t true! It’s more about personality than gender. So if I’m writing from a guy’s POV I think more about how his personality would affect his perspective. That plus his family, friends, school environment, etc. all play important roles in shaping and flavoring a character’s voice.
6. What comes first to you while writing – the plot, the characters or the story? How do you then go about with your outlining?
Usually the basic premise comes into my head first, like I mentioned in the first answer. I’ll see a character (or two or three) in a tricky scenario, which usually becomes the basis for a compelling plot. From there, I go right into developing the characters – their desires, fears, misbeliefs, and their backstory. How their journey is going to lead them to their “aha moment”, when they will discover the Truth that I want to convey as the story’s theme.
From there, I outline the plot. I like to use the 3-act story structure for pretty much everything I write, so I’ll grab my story structure template and start filling out the story beats with ideas I have for the plot. It always includes an inciting incident, a fear-based decision, middle conflict, a plot twist, a disaster, an aha moment, and a climactic confrontation where the protagonist learns the ultimate Truth and overcomes.
7. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? If you had to, which another genre would you love to write in?
Hmm, I don’t know if I have one! I always need a cup of tea, if that counts. Also being near a window (preferably with a nice view!) is pretty essential to inspiration for me. As all writers know, an important part of the process is staring out the window into space, haha! So windows are always good to have around.
If I had to pick another genre to write, I would probably choose mystery/suspense. I used to write fan fiction in this genre and sometimes I really miss it! It’s always fun to weave together a complicated mystery plot. 😉
8. Being a writer myself, one thing I struggle with often is portraying emotions in the right way and getting them across to the readers. While reading 100 Days of Sunlight, I could so well relate to Tessa and Weston and their individual aches. Can you give some tips on how to master the portrayal of emotions in characters?
Mmm, this is a really good question. First off, thank you so much! That’s something every writer loves to hear, of course, but it really means so much to me. 🙂 For advice on this, I would say really immerse yourself in how your characters feel. Even when you’re not writing and you’re just thinking about your story while doing other things. Get emotional. Really imagine how it would feel to experience what your characters are experiencing. Step into the shoes of your characters and feel their feelings. And then, when you actually sit down to write, don’t overthink it. Just write how it feels, not necessarily how it is. Write ugly. Write emotional.
9. What are your favorite books of all time? How did you get into writing?
Some of my favorite books of all time are:
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanan
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- EVERYTHING by Jane Austen
- The Blood Race series by my amazing sister K.A. Emmons (check it out!)
I got into writing by falling in love with story, which I have mostly my mom to thank for – she read so many books to me and my sister growing up, and it made me fall in love with the art of story. I’ve always felt that there is something truly magical about stories, and I really can’t imagine not being a writer!
10. Are you working on any new projects? If yes, could you tell a little about it, maybe give a few hints about what we can expect?
I’m working on lots of projects! They are all very top-secret at the moment so I can’t say much… but I can say that one is another fiction book and one is…not. 😉 stay tuned for more details!!
Thank you so much for interviewing me on your lovely blog today, Kajree! It was a pleasure to talk with you about all things writing. 😀
“Abbie Emmons has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil. What started out as an intrinsic love for storytelling has turned into her lifelong passion. There’s nothing Abbie likes better than writing (and reading) stories that are both heartrending and humorous, with a touch of cute romance and a poignant streak of truth running through them. Abbie is also a YouTuber, singer/songwriter, blogger, traveler, filmmaker, big dreamer, and professional waffle-eater. When she’s not writing or dreaming up new stories, you can find her road-tripping to national parks or binge-watching BBC Masterpiece dramas in her cozy Vermont home with a cup of tea and her fluffy white lap dog, Pearl.”