Today we are celebrating the launch of Rosanne Parry’s new novel, Second Fiddle. It has been chosen as a Spring Indy Next book by independent booksellers, so stop by your nearest indy bookstore and look for it today!
Rosanne has a hardcover copy of Second Fiddle and a paperback of Heart of a Shepherd for one lucky commentator on the site. So leave your name in the comments and we’ll choose a winner next Tuesday.
Here is the jacket flap:
It is 1990 and the wall that separated Communist East Berlin from the capitalist West has finally come down. For Jody this means moving back the States with her dad who’s retiring from the army and saying goodbye the the two best friends she’s ever had.
Before they part ways the three girls plan one last adventure a trip to Paris where they’ll compete in a classical music contest as a string trio. Winning will (almost) make up for the fact that they’ll soon be separated. But as they walk home from their final music lesson the girls witness a terrible crime and must act to save a Soviet soldier’s life. Getting to Paris becomes urgent as the girls discover that the border between friend and enemy is not as clear as it once was.
In this fast-paced tale of music, friendship and adventure, Rosanne Parry, author of Heart of a Shepherd, offers a sensitive portrayal of military families at a pivotal moment in history.
What was your favorite part of the book writing process?
I played violin from the age of 9 to 14. When I began researching Second Fiddle, I started playing my violin again to get my head into my main character, Jody. At first, I sounded awful, but once I got back in the habit of playing 20-30 minutes a day, I loved it. Even better, my younger two daughters, who play violin and piano, became old enough to play duets and trios with me. That was, and continues to be, the most amazing, wonderful thing! I love playing with my girls so much that I dedicated the book to them. It was a great insight into, not just Jody as a musician, but also the dynamic of girls making music together.
I have a bunch of bookstore events coming up for Second Fiddle and at most of them I’ll bring my violin and have lots of kid musicians along to make music with me. I can’t wait!
Why did you decide to make this story for middle grade readers?
Second Fiddle could have become a YA novel. Jody and her friends are at the end of their 8th grade year. They accomplished musicians and travel abroad on their own; that would be pretty independent even for high school students, so my editor and I discussed the possibility of gearing the story for older readers. But when I reflected on the heart of my main character I found Jody was more interested in music than romance. She wasn’t trying to rebel or strike out on her own, she was just trying to do the right thing in a world where the rules about who is your friend and your enemy had dramatically changed.
So we kept it at the older end of middle grade. Although the girls are frequently in real danger, they meet kind and helpful people everywhere they go. When they are confronted with “adult” situations—alcohol, inappropriate advances—they respond with a resounding middle grade “Eeww! Yuck!” What I love about this decision is that it keeps the focus clearly on Jody’s journey of claiming the title musician for her self.
Can you share an excerpt from the book that gives us a flavor of your character’s voice? How did you find your character’s voice?
The opening line of this book walked into my head one day quite early in the process of researching this book. I scratched it out on a scrap of paper because it told me almost everything I needed to know about my main character. She’s a sensible down to earth girl who’s trying to do the right thing, and has a clear sense of what it means to be an American living overseas at the close of the cold war.
“If we had known it would eventually involve the KGB, the French National Police, and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, we would have left that body in the river and called the Polizei like any normal German citizen, but we were Americans and addicted to solving other peoples’ problems, so naturally we got involved.”
Why did you choose the setting of your story?
It was my privilege to live in Germany from 1990-1992 at the end of the cold war. It was a fascinating time because the Soviet Union was such a formidable enemy of the U.S. for so long, it was astonishing to see the cascade of changes that occurred across Europe because of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That uncertainty is the perfect companion for the uncertainty of the kid who moves all the time and the uncertainty of leaving grade school and entering high school. It gave me plenty of room to find conflict and all the fun of revisiting my memories of Germany and Paris.
It’s a complete coincidence but the current events Egypt and North Africa are strikingly similar to the events at the fall of communism. I heard an American-born Egyptian on the radio, saying nearly exactly the same thing my Soviet soldier says about longing to be home in his own country helping to make it free.
Rosanne Parry moved to Germany in the spring of 1990 just as the Berlin Wall was coming down. She ran away to Paris for one glorious weekend with her soldier husband, first-born baby and an enormous purple stroller. The three of them are best friends to this day. Rosanne is the author of Heart of a Shepherd, which has been honored as a Washington Post’s Best Kid’s Book of the Year, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of the Year and a Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year. She also plays the violin for which she has never been honored with a prize of any kind. She now lives with her husband in an old farmhouse in Portland, Oregon, where they raise four children, three chickens, five kinds of fruit and their voices in the occasional song. Visit Rosanne at rosanneparry.com.
Rosanne does school visits for all ages from primary grades to high school, both in person and on Skype, and also adult writers workshops. You may contact her for an appearance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for some good companion reads for Second Fiddle, there are some recommendations here at her website.