Release Date: June 3, 2016 (National Donut Day!)
Cover Designer: Starla Huchton
Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge.
Vanessa Smith hasn’t been the same since her father’s death. A hero until the end, he died saving a restaurant owner’s wife and son from a burning building. Nessa has always blamed the boy, Ben, for her loss, and her thoughts are consumed with ways to make him as miserable as she is.
Nichole Adams knows Nessa can never heal until she learns to let go of her hatred, but bringing back her best friend is proving more difficult than she could’ve imagined. In a last ditch effort to break Nessa’s obsession, Nichole hopes signing up for the local food challenge is just the thing to bust her out of her shell.
A single choice defines the road ahead for Nessa. Doing the right thing isn’t easy, but living with the consequences of doing nothing might be worse.
10 random Facts about Donuts in an Empty Field and the For the Love of Donuts Series:
- Vanessa owns a corgi named Bluster.
- Vanessa’s dad tries to beat the world record for most powdered donuts eaten in 3 minutes.
- Vanessa and Nichole live in Sarasota, FL.
- Nichole and Vanessa share the same birthday and are both 17 years old.
- There is a local food challenge the girls try to beat.
- Vanessa has a fear of anything related to fire – matches, lighters, gas burning stoves, etc.
- Nichole and her Mother are hoarders to a certain degree.
- Nichole is the same size she was in the 6th grade.
- Vanessa wears a dog costume in one scene.
- Pictures are taken under the statue Unconditional Surrender in Sarasota.
About the Author
“Author, Reviewer, and Donut Enthusiast”
My greatest accomplishments have been eating an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, winning a boot toss, and writing a fictional novel based on my high school years. The first book in my For the Love of Donuts Books, Donuts in an Empty Field, is available June of 2016. My other YA novels include Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams and At One’s Beast. For more information and to see what I’m up to, visit my website: rachelauthorbarnard.com
An interview with Rachel:
What inspired you to write Donuts in an Empty Field?
Donuts in an Empty Field is the book I’ve always meant to write. I’ve been calling it my “fictionalized biography” because the inspiration for many of the characters and the settings comes from my high school years and my relationship with my best friend at the time. Really, I wrote the book for her and to immortalize how I felt about her.
When did you start writing this book? Did you outline this novel or plan it out at all?
I’ve always meant to write this particular book, but it was a spur-of the moment decision. I was planning on writing a murder-mystery for NaNoWriMo 2014, but wasn’t ready. Donuts in an Empty Field took over that nano from day 1 because I could sit down and pants it out. Every manuscript since Donuts has been outlined to some degree. Outlines are so helpful and I recommend it to every writer, even if it’s not overly detailed. It’s taken me quite a number of drafts to work Donuts down into what it is today and I’ve since created an outline for this book to work backwards from.
Talk about the writing process, how long it took, what you did, etc.:
I’ve spent so long on this novel, I’ve lost track of some of the effort involved in its creation and revision. I started the writing during NaNoWrimo 2014, for a total word count of 64,540 by the end of the month. I wrote every day and spent between 40-75 hours writing that month. Then I set the manuscript aside and worked on other projects. I decided I wanted to publish the book on National Donut Day, but 2015 was moving too fast for me and I tabled the manuscript until 2016. I picked it back up again and began working on it with my local critique group. I began seriously working on it again at the end of 2015 when I overhauled the plot and then submitted it to a lovely online group of people who gave me such great feedback! I spent more countless hours reworking the plot and re-reading the manuscript before handing it off chapter by chapter to my professional editor. Every hour she puts in, I match and more. And finally, I was ready to publish and had everything set up to hit ‘go.’ This book has taken more time, effort, and tears, than anything else I’ve ever worked on.
Why would someone pick up and read this book?
Donuts in an Empty Field is for a young adult audience, specifically teenagers or emerging adults who want to read about a protagonist who’s working through grief and how to be a best friend amidst personal issues. This book is also a fun insight into the teenage mind and what really goes on after school.
What does this book say about society?
Grief is very personal and others can’t and won’t always understand how you are healing or what you need to heal. Sometimes teenagers act out for a reason, and in Vanessa’s case, she has a lot of things on her mental plate and she needs help. She needs a best friend to help her interact with the world sometimes.
What can someone learn from this book?
Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge. How can Vanessa let go of her anger toward this boy who caused the death of her Dad? How can anyone let go of what some would call righteous anger? What does it mean to move on and live your life, even after something like the death of a parent happens? Those who read Donuts will be able to understand and answer these questions.
What books are similar to this book?
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, If I stay by Gayle Foreman, and Dumplin’ by Julie Murchpy
Are all the characters based on real people in your life? Was any character or situation inspired by anyone you know or anything that has happened in your life?
Almost every character in Donuts is inspired by a real person. Vanessa is the girl I wish I was and am glad I wasn’t in high school. She is taller than I am, but more insecure than I was. Nichole is the true inspiration for this story and based upon my best friend in high school. The main story – that of a girl inspired by her best friend to move past her anger and grief to live her life and enjoy everything around her – was inspired by my best friend and the way she pulled me out of my sheltered cocoon to truly immerse myself in the joys of life. The Dad character is based on my Dad, but only to a certain degree. The Mom character is not much at all like my mom, she is more aloof to her daughter’s troubles and doesn’t want to get involved as much as my mom did.
How do you think Nichole’s true life counterpart will feel when she reads this book? Or the dad or the mom?
The more I’ve edited this book, the more I fear the real life counterparts that the characters are based upon will not like what I’ve done. The characters are only inspired by their real life counterparts and are not meant to be a negative portrayal of that person. My characters have grown so much since I first penned them that they’ve run away with their faults to such a degree that they almost don’t resemble their real life counterparts anymore. I hope that my Dad, Mom, and Nichole counterparts appreciate that they inspired such important characters and are not offended by anything negative the characters do in the book.
Tell me about your favorite character. What’s your favorite thing about them?
I love Bluster the Corgi. My original opening line: “My Dad loved precisely three things: Donuts, corgis, and being friendly,” was a head nod to my Dad and his passions, but with a slight twist. Corgi should have been bulldog, but I wanted to change that one little detail and I think corgis are super cute and have such unique personality traits that the dog in the story just had to be one. I love that most corgis wag their entire butts when they’re excited because their tails are so short and that they are so squat and close to the ground.