Sarvenaz Tash Talks About Writing Historical Fiction for Teens + A Book Giveaway

Sarvenaz Tash photo

Sarvenaz Tash photo by Corinne Ray

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour for Three Day Summer, a book about how the Woodstock Music Festival changes the lives of two teens. I’ll feature my review of the book tomorrow, and  today I’m happy to have a guest post by the author on the challenges of writing about recent historical fiction for teens.

I have one copy of Three Day Summer to give away to a reader with a U.S. address. To enter, just leave a comment here by midnight (PDT), Wednesday, May 27, and tell us about the role music plays in your life. Please note: The giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Ellen on winning.

If you’d like to follow the rest of the tour, the schedule is listed below:

Here’s a bit of info about Sarvenaz Tash: She was born in Tehran, Iran, and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. For more information, visit: Find her on Twitter: @SarvenazTash

On Writing Historical Fiction for Teens

By Sarvenaz Tash

I’d never written historical fiction before I wrote Three Day Summer. I had incorporated historical facts and elements into my previous middle grade book (The Mapmaker and the Ghost), but this was the first time that I had straight up written a story that took place in another era.

But I wrote it for one very simple reason: It is an era that I truly love and have loved for a very long time, though I never lived in it. The ‘60s have always seemed so magical to me, but also rife with some extreme events and emotions that leave so much room to explore narratively: war, racism, political unrest, shifting cultural tides and—of course—some of the most glorious music and fashion in history. For me, Woodstock seemed to embody so much of that but, above all, seemed like a triumph of hope and youth and optimism. I wanted to experience it for myself and, in writing this story that took place there, I wanted readers to be able to experience it too. After all, I truly believe that one of the greatest magic tricks that fiction has up its sleeve is its ability to transport a reader to another time and place.

Here’s something else I truly believe: There are aspects of the teenaged experience that are universal, that truly transcend time. Sure, Cora and Michael weren’t Instagramming their photos from the festival like a 17-year-old at Coachella 2015 might—but they are grappling with questions that I think are at the heart of coming-of-age for everybody: What do I stand for? What do I want out of life? Who am I now and who will I become?

My goal and my challenge was to make their story immediate and to make them feel like real flesh-and-blood teens who are witnesses to an extraordinary event . . . that just happens to have taken place 46 years ago. I did a ton of research, of course, to make sure that the book was as historically accurate as possible (for the record, it was extremely fun research like looking at pictures of clothes, reading tons of first-hand accounts, watching documentaries, listening to setlists. . . . ). I wanted the festival to feel like another vivid character in the book and I wanted it to be as close to the real thing as possible. But, above all, I wanted it to be an amazing setting for two characters who I hope feel as real to the reader as they do to me.

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