Nikki Barthelmess: The Quiet You Carry
Welcome to March, where the debuts are plentiful and the books are awesome!
The Quiet You Carry
by Nikki Barthelmess
Victoria Parker knew her dad's behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine—until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights.
Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden.
But some secrets won't stay buried—especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can't stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won't leave you alone?
March 5th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
Thanks so much for having me! I’m Nikki Barthelmess, and my debut novel The Quiet You Carry is coming out March 5th! The Quiet You Carry is about 17-year-old Victoria, who has just been placed in foster care. Victoria wants nothing more than to move on, pretend her life is normal, and plan her escape to college. So she’s keeping her painful past hidden from her new classmates in the small town she’s relocated to, and she doesn’t want social services to know what really happened at home with her dad the night they took her away. Keeping all these secrets gets harder and harder, especially when Victoria realizes her stepsister, left behind with her father, might be in danger.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
I really shouldn’t be surprised by this, but there’s always something to do. Book promotion could be a full-time job— with ARC giveaways, blog interviews, social media posts, and I could go on and on. There are a bunch of ARCs for fellow debuts I have read, am reading, or want to read. And then of course I am supposed to be writing my next book! All of this is to say, there’s always something I could be doing. Although this is a dream-come-true and I’m so grateful, being a debut can be stressful and at times overwhelming, if you don’t prioritize self-care.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
I’m so excited for my critique partner Autumn Krause who is also debuting this year with her fantastic book A Dress for the Wicked, coming out in August from HarperTeen.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Forever! Ha, just kidding. But sometimes it seems like that’s how long it took to write The Quiet You Carry. I started writing it in December of 2013 and wrote for a month or so before I took a break from it because I was preparing for my wedding in May and planning to move out of state right after the honeymoon. I went back to drafting in August 2014. Between that time and when I got the offer from Flux to publish it, I worked on another project that ended up not selling as well as other writing projects. And I moved out of state two more times! So it wasn’t like I was working on the manuscript continuously, but it took about four years from when I started writing to when the project sold.
What inspired you to write this book?
I am a former foster kid. I lived in six different towns in the six years I was in the Nevada foster care system. When I first went into foster care at twelve, I didn’t know much about foster care and neither did the kids around me at school. At times, people—even the adults who were supposed to help—judged me, like it was my fault I was in foster care. Like I was a “bad kid.” I felt unwanted and was often depressed, especially after my mom died of cancer a few months after I went into foster care.
As I grew up and started volunteering and mentoring foster youth, I realized I wasn’t alone. Many of the current and former foster kids I met were used to people making wrong and often negative assumptions about us, based on poor representation via the news, TV, movies, books, and in popular culture in general. I wanted to write a story where a foster kid struggles, but also one where she doesn’t give up. One where she refuses to become that negative statistic us foster kids are so often being told we will become.
Describe your main character in 3 words.
Introspective, loyal, resilient.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
My advice would be to live with a sense of adventure. Do things that invigorate and scare you. Travel. Meet new people and listen to their stories. The way we see the world comes from our backgrounds and our experiences, along with the people we meet along the way and what we learn from them. That is what we have to draw from to write our stories.
Describe your writing space.
I have my own home office with a desk and all sorts of cute notebooks and other writerly things. But I never write up there! My living room couch has an indent on the side I sit on every weekday morning to do my writing. :)
Who is your favorite author?
My all-time favorite book series is Harry Potter, so I would have to choose J.K. Rowling! Like me, Harry had been treated poorly by the people who were supposed to take care of him, and he ended up having to be his own hero— with the help of his friends, of course. Growing up, I wanted to have friends like Hermione and Ron, and I wanted the love and acceptance that Harry ends up finding.
Show us a picture of your favorite thing!
My dog, Corgus!
Thanks for talking, Nikki! I can't wait for your book! And you readers, go check it out on 3/5/19!