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Shay Siegel wrote her first novel, Fractured, based on trials she’s dealt with during her life. As a young girl, she experienced selective mutism, which would not allow her to talk in certain circumstances.
Her book is a YA that has a football player discovering that other people in the world has problems that he wasn’t even aware of. She hopes to continue writing more books dealing with mental health issues in teens and young adults.
Well, Shay, thank you for coming on the podcast. I appreciate it. Um, to get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of writing life?
Um, yeah, thanks for having me. Um, I am from the east end of Long Island, New York. For the past couple years. I’ve lived in South Carolina, first in Columbia. And now I recently moved to Charleston. But I kind of split my time between South Carolina and New York at the moment. All my family’s still in New York. I went to college at Tulane University in New Orleans, where I got my BA in English, and I was also a member of the women’s tennis team. And after that, I went on to grad school for my MFA and writing at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
Wow. So you’ve been all over. I love being New Orleans. Actually, I was supposed to be on a writers conference on Halloween in New Orleans, and it got cancelled because of all the COVID stuff, which was very sad. Oh, yeah, that’s too bad. It’s such a fun city. So, real quick, the tennis team, were you actually on a scholarship, or we just joined the team?
Um, well, I wasn’t on a scholarship, but I was recruited to be on the team at Tulane. I played competitive tennis all throughout my childhood. And then through college, I actually lived at ever tennis Academy, my senior year of high school in Florida.
Wow. So you’ve really been all over the country to various schools and cities? Yeah, the East area, I guess. decided? Well, New Orleans. Um, okay. So, with all of that background, everything you’ve done, why did you decide to start writing.
Um, so interestingly, I actually grew up selective mute, a lot of people are unfamiliar with what that is, or haven’t even heard of it. And it’s basically an anxiety disorders surrounding speaking. So I’ve always been very shy. But when I was younger, there were certain situations where I couldn’t speak at all, specifically with people I didn’t know well, or wasn’t comfortable with. And especially in school settings. So when I couldn’t speak, I would write writing was my voice in many ways. And pretty much the only way I felt comfortable expressing myself. So I didn’t give much thought to writing when I was younger, because I was so focused on tennis. But when I look back on it, I was always writing poems or short stories. And then in college, when I had to declare a major and think about what I would start doing after college, I started realizing that other than tennis writing was really the one thing I really enjoyed. So I decided to enter the MFA program and pretty much been writing ever since.
I find that fascinating, because I’ve heard from so many writers authors that got into writing because they had something they were trying to overcome. And with you, what was it called? I’m sorry, selective mute. Yes. That that that’s an interesting because, you know, that could be so negative. Do you find that when you were younger? Maybe I’m guessing that the tennis helped you get out of that, or how did you deal with that when you were younger?
Um, yeah, I guess I tried all sorts of things. When I was younger, it was just very painful being that shy and having that much difficulty speaking and I eventually started to overcome it. I mean, I’m still always had a lot of anxiety about speaking social anxiety, but Yeah, the the forms of expression certainly help with it.
Well, I and I think that’s great that you’re even talking on the podcast today. I appreciate that anxiety? Well, I think, you know, sometimes the anonymous thing on the internet helps a little bit, you know, we’re not actually looking at each other right now. So I think that, you know, may help a little bit I’ve got one of my kids has high anxiety and has take medicine for it. So things like, you know, getting out, even at the grocery store, putting things back on a shelf can cause anxiety, and, you know, they freeze up, but getting on line with a microphone and headphones, they have no problem then talking to people. So, you know, in, we all have problems with trolls online. But in some ways, there’s a benefit to certain people that too, so it sounds like to me, like your writing has helped you come out of that. And then, you know, being able to be on this podcast, maybe is hopefully the next little step. I’m bragging, I guess hoping.
Yeah, no, it certainly is. It’s it’s always great to take steps.
Okay, so you decided to get into some writing? Um, I think you still play tennis.
I’m not really I got pretty burnt out after college actually spending my whole life focused on it. So I haven’t played too much in like the last seven years or so I play a little bit here and there for fun. But yeah, I’ve kind of taken to other forms of exercise now.
Great. Well, yeah, we all kind of get past that, I guess. Things we did when we were younger, sometimes. I wish I still played as much music as I used to. Um, so you’ve written your first book, and I found it on reasi discovery. Tell us about that. What’s it called? What’s it about?
Yes, so my debut young adult novel was published just last week. It’s called fractured. It’s a contemporary coming of age story that confronts a lot of societal issues that teens face today. The book is about Mason Vance. He’s a teenage football star, and he breaks his wrist in the first chapter. And when he goes to the doctor’s office, he meets a girl lace, who’s there seeing a therapist in the same building. And Mason is intrigued by her and starts to develop feelings for her. And he begins to learn more about her emotional struggles, and that she deals with mental illness. And the story kind of takes the course of his literal physical fracture, meeting her more metaphorical inner fractures. And he learns a lot about mental health, which he never gave any thought to before and begins to question a lot of his past behavior, especially because he’s a very toxic male character in the beginning of the story. So without giving too much away his laces relationship comes to a sort of breaking point one night when Mason’s forced to realize he couldn’t leave behind who he’d always been as easily as he thought. And he set on a path to healing both physically and emotionally.
Wow. So you can correct me if I’m wrong. I’m sure you struggled, growing up, and it sounds like you’re using that to fuel the book and help others out there that may be struggling with those same problems, or very similar, you know, being able to relate to
Yes, definitely. I actually had the idea for the book when I broke my own wrist on my 25th birthday. And I started thinking a lot after that about how differently society sees, like conditions that can be seen as opposed to ones that can’t be seen, like depression and anxiety.
I think that’s great. My daughter has struggled with depression. And I know we tried various many things to get her to partly realize, you know, you’re not the only one going through this, you know, don’t feel alone. So I think that’s important. I applaud that. I think, hearing from people who have also struggled, you know, it’s one thing if, you know, JK Rowling wrote a book like yours. Yeah, yeah. Great. You know, how can you relate to that? Exactly. So I think it’s important for people to understand that when they’re, you know, going through this, not everybody are there. There are more people out there. Not everybody He understands that. Yes, exactly. Thank you. So did you think of making him the tennis star instead of the football?
Um, for some reason, he just was a football player in my head when I imagined him. I mean, it’s like, it’s a very macho sport and guy, and I actually, I don’t even really know all that much about football. So I had to learn a lot while I was.
I love that because that seems to happen to me too. It’s, it’s, I always tell people it’s like, there’s another world and I kind of pull open a veil and peek through to see what’s happening. I don’t think it up. It’s just me reporting What’s going on? Yeah. Did you ever see the show Friday Night Lights? I yes. Okay. Yeah. When you said that about the football star. getting hurt made me think of that, because that was a great show. Yeah. So writing this your first book? What did you learn? And what would you do different?
Um, I guess I learned how much decision making and how many steps are involved specifically in self publishing, even after you’ve fully finished writing the novel. And how having all the power can be both a blessing and a curse. It was an overwhelming process to self publish. And I often found myself wishing I had more support or help, especially because I’m pretty indecisive. I don’t necessarily think I do anything differently, other than maybe publishing sooner than I did. I kind of tinkered with my book a lot for the last couple years, just because it wasn’t published yet. And I had no plans to publish. But I had essentially been finished with it for like two years before I finally decided to leap in and self publish.
Okay, so these things you’ve learned? Are you thinking about a second book and going to apply some of this to your next book? Do you have more confidence to get another one out? How’s that feeling?
Um, yes, I definitely have plans for next book. I have recently started writing a new young adult book. It’s partially inspired by true events. It’s another contemporary coming of age story, but very different storyline than fractured. I haven’t written much of it yet. But I would still like to explore the possibility of traditional publishing and an agent, if not just to get a different experience and learn more about the publishing industry as a whole.
I think that’s great. Actually, traditional publishing has kind of scared me. I don’t know, if I could take hearing from so many people to say no, back. So, um, have you had people read it and gotten feedback from some people? What have they been saying? Um,
yeah, I’ve had a lot of really positive feedback from readers, some reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I actually worked with a publicist, and they put it up on net galley for a few months. So it’s really nice when you see readers who have read it, and just to feel like they totally got it, like what you were trying to say and that message you wanted to get across. So it’s just really, really great when you see readers connecting in that way with your work. There’s been a few discouraging reviews. I think it’s just mainly because my book is a little bit controversial in terms of content and the uncomfortable issues that addresses and my narrator’s very unlikable. So, I think some readers just don’t really like that. And then I have to remind myself that that’s okay. It’s not for everyone, and no author can create something that everybody just completely loves. It’s impossible. So, right, even JK Rowling has negative reviews. Exactly. So those who connect with it and love it, those are the core group of readers and just try to remind myself of that, and it’s overall been very encouraging and positive.
was getting the negative reviews and dealing with that, was that something that held you back from wanting to publish?
Um, at times, it just, it’s hard when you have so many people saying so many different things and you’re letting them all influence your thoughts. So being level headed About It is really important and knowing what you can use to better your writing and what you just really need to ignore.
And I think that’s great, because I hear so many authors say that they’ve got something written or they’ve got ideas, but they’re afraid of the negative reviews, they don’t want to hear the negative reviews, or they they do read them, and then they just freeze up and stop. So I think having to deal with that is something a lot of authors struggle with.
Yeah, definitely, it can definitely be discouraging, but you just have to push through it and put it aside.
Right. It sounds like you’ve had a couple, but you’ve had way more good feedback. And has that helped push you to get the second one done a little faster? Maybe than the first?
Um, not necessarily. I’m a pretty good writer. I yeah, I mean, I’ve I’ve gone in phases of just feeling a little bit too discouraged to write or just having resistance to writing I guess. But I definitely do really want to get this book out there, this next one, but I do write pretty slow, and I revise a lot like I pretty much from my first draft to the finish product. There’s basically nothing from the first draft that’s in it by the end. So it’s a long revision process for me.
So when you get discouraged or don’t feel like writing, what do you do to get back into it to get yourself in the right mindset to do it again.
Um, sometimes I just forced myself I just open up my computer and just say, I’m just going to write for, like, a page. And if I want to stop after that, fine, but I’ll probably more often than not probably 19 times out of 20, I will end up writing full chapters, and it’s mainly just the will to sit down and do it. That’s the most important I think,
and I think you just nailed it right there. The difference between a professional author and a hobbyist whether you want to or not, sometimes you just got to sit down and do it. And I’m like you there times days, I’m just not in the mood. I don’t feel like it. But then I start, you know, writing and creating. And next thing I know, you know, pages are done and hundreds of words are flowing out and I don’t want to stop it. So I agree it sometimes you just have to make yourself do it.
Yeah, absolutely. Can’t wait for inspiration to strike. You’ll be waiting forever.
Right? Right. Um, so what are you doing to market your book? I heard you say you were on net galley for a while and I know you’re on reads a discovery. Are you doing anything else?
Um, well, I hired a publicist about four months before the release. So I’ve been working with Smith publicity. And yeah, they put it up on net galley. And they have been monitoring all the reviews and requests through there. And they’ve reached out to several book bloggers and books to grammars and media outlets, just anything to create any sort of buzz around the release date. I’ve now been writing a couple articles and listicles for media outlets that have to do with some themes in my book. So basically, just trying to get my name out there at the moment, but I’m not actually doing any marketing right now. I definitely plan to learn more about Amazon ads once my publicity campaign is up with them.
Okay, great. And when you are writing what software and services do you use,
um, I use word for all my writing I’ve always used towards since before High School, even I just feel very comfortable with it does the job for me, um, I haven’t formatted my own book. So I don’t have any software for formatting. I hired a professional to do the interior formatting. And I can definitely see why it would be valuable to learn to do my own formatting, since you can’t make any further changes without that software and you have to go through somebody else with any little changes you want to make. But I just didn’t really want the stress of learning something new. I wanted it done like fully correctly and professionally.
And there’s definitely something to be said about that. If you’re a writer, you don’t necessarily change your tires and you don’t fill up the oil. You know, I hire people to do that. So formatting, even advertising, putting it online, I think that’s coming around more and more that there are some services out there. The The problem is the slight margin and being able to make a profit, even with hiring somebody to do some of those. Yeah. Okay, so slight change. When you were growing up are even now, what are some of your favorite books and authors.
Um, I really love Young Adult Contemporary and coming of age, that’s basically all I read right now. So my favorite authors in that genre are definitely john green, and Jay Asher. They were huge inspirations to me when I first started taking writing more seriously about 10 years ago now. So yeah, I’ve read all their books. And I just love the powerful messages and issues they confront. And I really love john Green’s memorable characters.
And where you live, and you may not have been there in a while, but do you have any favorite bookstores around you?
Um, yeah, I love Sag Harbor and Southampton books on Long Island. They’re two different bookstores with the same owner. There’s not really a ton of local bookstores in the area I grew up, but those ones are definitely special and have a really great atmosphere. I haven’t. I haven’t been to New York in a couple months. But I’m definitely looking forward to going back and visiting those bookstores, especially around the holidays. Right?
Yeah, I agree. We, I’ve been trying to get to a couple bookstores that some of them are open summer closing, and it’s not a it’s not happy for me. Well, Shay, do you have any advice for new authors that may be struggling to get a book out, or even maybe some teens that are having problems feel like they’re alone in the world, about, you know, using writing to help get through life, sometimes? Any advice for any of them?
Yeah, I would honestly say, to just keep writing, I feel like that’s the most valuable advice any of us can get. It feels simple. But it’s easy to lose sight of why you started and allow some of the joy of writing to be sucked out due to the outside circumstances, and rejection and difficulty of publishing and just things going on in our lives. But I started writing because I love it. And it’s my voice. So I don’t need to take my own voice away when there’s enough obstacles that come along with being a writer. So I’d say remember why you started and don’t lose sight of that no matter what happens with publishing and marketing and so on. It’s really about the writing first and that important form of expression.
Great, thanks. Tell us one more time before we go. What’s the name of your book and where can we find it?
It’s called fractured. It’s available on Amazon. It’s also enrolled in the Kindle unlimited program on Amazon. So if you have a Kindle unlimited subscription, you can read it for free. And all information about my book, my social media can be found on my website, which is Shay segal.com. That’s sh a y si e. g. l.com.
Wonderful. Thank you, Shay. I appreciate you taking some time talking to me today and telling everybody about your book. I wish you luck in that. And I hope maybe we touch base again sometime when your second book comes out.
Oh, great. That would be great. Thanks so much.
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