Wild meets The Breakfast Club, that’s how Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined is described. Yup, I was internally screaming with joy as well. To help pique your interest just a little bit further I’m here today with the book’s author, Danielle Younge-Ullman, who’s here to tell you about the role music played in her creative journey with Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined.
Hello, Writing From the Tub! You asked me how music helped my writing of EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED, and which songs in particular helped me. At first I didn’t know what to say, because I don’t listen to music at all when I write—I need silence. But music is a huge part of this story, and has been a big part of my life, which all feeds into my work.
Let me explain…
My protagonist, Ingrid, and her mother, are both fabulous singers. I am not. Most of my life, until high school, all my singing was done in the shower. Then in grade 11, I auditioned for my school’s production of The Wizard of Oz—a production I pay homage to in EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED—and was shocked to find myself cast as Dorothy. (I think they cast me more in spite of my voice than because of it.)
Being in that play changed my life—it forced me to be brave (singing! Alone! In front of hundreds of people!), built my confidence, and introduced me to singing and music in a brand new way. A condition of my taking the part of Dorothy was that I join both the school choir and the vocal jazz group, and there my love of music and singing grew. Both groups were amazing. We sang in the national vocal jazz competition, and then at the end of my senior year a combo of the choir and jazz group travelled to England and sang fifteen concerts in ten days at places like Canterbury Cathedral and the piazza in Bath. We were so tight and tuned in to each other by the end of that trip, and doing those concerts was exhilarating.
Living in Toronto, I also saw many big musicals as I was growing up. I then spent my twenties and early thirties working in the theatre, and there were quite a few opportunities to sing during that time, too—usually as part of a group. When I was in my twenties, my parents started buying season passes for the Canadian Opera Company. This meant that when my stepdad couldn’t go, I got invited.
I poured my feelings and experiences around music (and the arts in general) into the characters of Ingrid and Margot-Sophia. Music is at the heart of this story, and of the conflicts and similarities between mother and daughter. I looked at music from each of their perspectives—the loss of it for Margot-Sophia and how debilitating it is for her to be cut off from it, to the re-discovery and necessity of music for Ingrid. So, although I am not a musician, music is a big part of my life, and became an important part of EVERTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED.
Author bio: Danielle Younge-Ullman is a Canadian novelist, playwright and freelance writer. This is her second YA novel, and would be her first published in the UK. She studied English and Theatre at McGill University in Montreal, then returned to her hometown of Toronto to work as professional actor for ten years. This was character-building time during which she held a wild variety of acting and non-acting jobs–everything from working on the stage and in independent films, to dubbing English voices for Japanese TV, to temping, to teaching Pilates.
LOLA CARLYLE’S 12 STEP ROMANCE (Entangled/Macmillan May 2015) is Danielle’s YA debut. Danielle also wrote the critically acclaimed adult novel, FALLING UNDER, (Penguin, 2008), published a short story called “Reconciliation” in MODERN MORSELS, a McGraw-Hill Anthology for young adults, in 2012, and her one-act play, 7 Acts of Intercourse, debuted at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in 2005.
Danielle lives in an old house in Toronto that’s constantly being renovated, with her husband and two daughters.
Thanks for stopping by, Danielle! And don’t forget to check out the next stops on the blog tour: