Rocket Malone is not thrilled with the direction her life is taking. Her mom has just remarried, and they are moving from their hip cottage in Venice Beach to her stepfather’s home in Hollywood. Her best friend, Gillian, has a new friend and a new boyfriend, and Rocket feels left behind. When she finds out that her mother is pregnant with twins, she is furious.
All of these problems are quickly overshadowed when Rocket discovers that she is descended from the Greek muses, and is therefore obligated to serve as an apprentice to the nine mythological sisters. Rocket sees herself as smart but not creative, and apprenticing to the muses does not come naturally to her. She tries to help several people, but just cannot find the right person to aid.
Along with the fun, intelligent story about Greek gods, muses, and other mythological figures, Inspired captures the trials and tribulations of discovering oneself while dealing with the challenges of middle school. Rocket does not want her life to change, but she must adapt, learning to share her mom and her best friend while finding new ways to create her own joy.
Rocket and her friends have some very serious problems. Rocket’s father committed suicide; her mother is in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy. Her friend Ryan lost his sister in a car accident and then was abandoned by his father; the home he shares with his mother is destroyed in a fire. These issues are thoughtfully addressed in the story as the adolescents learn not to blame themselves, to accept what is, and to help one another through the hardest parts.
Inspired is delightful, insightful, and charming as it encourages kids to face their obstacles and chase their own passions.
Daydreaming Is In My Job Description
Last night, I dressed up like a Greek goddess. My friends and I made sparkly tiaras together. We blew up a giant Pegasus and floated it in the pool. There was music – lyrical classical soul-stirring music – and party tunes, too. I set Goddess oracle cards and poetry books inside my giant purple tie-dyed tent. My table was groaning under the weight of platters of delicious Greek food – spanakopita and baklava and hummus and tabouleh and dolmades – yum! There was laughter, and impromptu dancing. Old friendships were celebrated, and new friendships were ignited.
Why all the excitement? Well, I wanted – needed – to celebrate INSPIRED, a novel I launched yesterday!
I have been asked…What inspired you to write Inspired?
Well, the short answer is this: I had a dream about a girl named Rocket who takes a job with Muses…and I remembered that dream when I woke up.
The long answer requires tweaking the question a bit, to “what inspired you to KEEP writing this book?” Because this book took a very, very long time to finish. That dream came to me in 1994, when I was living in Boston, newly married, working in teaching and public relations and trying to keep alive my dream of being a professional writer. I first wrote Inspired as a movie for a screenwriting contest, which I didn’t win. I stuck it in a drawer, but the idea kept dancing at the back of my imagination. I revised the screenplay a million times. Gave up on it. Decided it would be better as a novel, and wrote a new first draft. I wrote many, many more drafts.
Along the way, my life kept happening. We moved. We had children. I worked. I wived. I volunteered. I wrote a lot of other things: school newsletters, more screenplays, short stories, journals, grant proposals, lesson plans, marketing copy, rhyming invitations for my kids ‘s birthday parties.
Then, I stopped writing altogether. I had my heart broken, you see, and I was grieving, and I became very, very stuck in a dark, sad place.
Creativity saved me. Friendship saved me. Magical women came into my life, when I needed them most, and reminded me how much I love to dance. To sculpt. To paint. To walk along the beach, crying, and write a poem about it. I started breathing more deeply and seeing the world as wonder-full once again. And EVERYTHING began to inspire me and find its way into my book (even the hard, sad, lonely stuff like losing someone I loved and feeling lost and unwanted began to inspire my art and poetry!).
Once I started creating again, more magical things began to happen. I found new love, and my heart kept healing. Soon after that, an artist-mom-friend and I created and indie published a children’s picture book about love called Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs to give to children who were grieving (like mine). A famous actor saw that book and invited us to collaborate on another picture book to help kids coping with trauma. That second book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, was sent ON AN ACTUAL ROCKET to the International Space Station and read aloud by Astronaut Kate Rubins … And the main character of my novel is NAMED ROCKET! (it doesn’t get much more magical than that, right? Crazy synchronicity!). Courtenay and I published a third picture book called The Big Adventures of Tiny House, and soon we were jetting around the country speaking at tiny house festivals and schools and libraries.
Somewhere along the way, just like Rocket in my book…I realized that I was surrounded by people who loved and cared about me, and I began to trust my voice, and I realized I was ready to launch my Rocket! I have an amazing dancing friend Kara, who also happens to be a book editor, so I hired her to be my book “doula” and help me get Inspired finally, finally edited and proofread and birthed into the world….where, hopefully, it will inspire other girls to trust their voices and create more magic in the world.
That’s something to celebrate, don’t you agree?
In fact, on Mount Helikon, the home of the Greek Muses, there is always something to celebrate!
So make yourself a tiara and have a crazy costume party with your favorite people…write a love song or a tragic opera…paint or sculpt or invent a gizmo or learn an instrument or travel somewhere cool or explore a museum or hug a redwood tree or cook up an exotic dish….The possibilities are infinite! Shoot for the moon – you might land on the Space Station!
Just get INSPIRED…and see where it takes YOU!
xoxo Susan Schaefer Bernardo
About the Author
Hello! My name is Susan Schaefer Bernardo, and I’ve been writing poetry and stories since I could hold a crayon! I am a big believer in the power of creativity. The process of writing poetry or making art allows me to express and understand my emotions. Through our imagination, we find ways to move through painful experiences and transform them into something very beautiful and healing.
I wrote my first book Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs because I wanted to reassure my kids (and myself!) that we are always connected to the people we love. Writing my poem “Tonic Waters” helped me cope with grief over my mother-in-law’s death. I was so honored when “Tonic Waters” was published in an anthology and read aloud at the 2014 World Cancer Day Concert – because it meant my words might console others experiencing similar pain. I’m currently finishing my first YA novel for girls, and I’ve just finished collaborating on a wonderful new book to support children who have suffered a traumatic event.
I love to learn just as much as I love to teach, and I hold a B.A. in English (UCLA), M.A. in English Literature (Yale) and elementary/secondary teaching credentials (Pepperdine). I keep my inner flower child happy and inspired by sculpting, dancing, exploring tide pools, raising chickens in the city, traveling to cool new places (and attempting to speak the language, even if it’s just please and thank you), and taking long nature walks with my sons and our rescue terrier Poppy. I’m happiest when I’m barefoot and surrounded by beauty.
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