True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Featured Author & Giveaway: Sara Alva

Sara Alva
Sara Alva is a former small-town girl currently living in big-city LA with a husband, two cats, and an avocado tree. She recently discovered—after a year in her house—that she also has a fig tree in her backyard, which might mean she needs to get out more. But sometimes the stories waiting to be told demand more attention, and when she puts fingers to keyboard, it’s usually to write about journeys of self-discovery, heartache, personal growth, friendship and love. When she isn’t writing, she’s teaching or dancing. For more information, free short stories and news on upcoming releases, visit Sara’s website at

Connect with Sara Alva on Twitter @SaraAlvaStories or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Sara Alva:

  1. Where is the book Silent set? Is it a place you’re familiar with in real life or is it imagined?

    Silent is set in Los Angeles, California, where I currently live. So far in my writing career, I’ve taken on settings I know well. I like throwing in those little details that allow people who’ve “been there” to catch the local references. And for those who haven’t been, if they ever do visit, maybe they’ll spot some things they’ve read about!

    I have an upcoming guest post on Madison Parker’s blog with some more insight into the specific locations of Los Angeles. It’s such a huge, diverse area that it really allowed me take Alex on a significant journey without leaving the city, and the changing setting plays a significant role in the story.

  2. One of your writing strengths is creating authentic dialogue. The characters really come alive through their speech. Ironically, one of the characters doesn’t speak at all (hence the title, Silent). What challenges did you face in developing a non-speaking character?

    The concept of Seb as a character had been floating around in my head since my high school days (wow, so long ago!) but bringing him to life on the page was a different story (oops, I punned). In my head I could see the facial expressions he would make, the very subtle gestures he could use, but I had to work carefully to represent those in text without getting repetitive or too heavy-handed. Then again, I couldn’t be too light, either, or his presence would barely be felt. My betas were a great resource and helped me fine-tune those parts of the novel until I was satisfied with the end result.

  3. I have no personal experience with the foster care system, but reading Silent made me feel like I was right there, experiencing the emotional upheaval along with the main character as he’s placed in a group home. It’s interesting that adults tend to view foster care as a positive thing, whereas the children placed in foster care often don’t. If given the choice, sadly, many would choose to return to their abusive environments. What type of research did you do to help portray the foster care experience so realistically?

    I had betas with some insight into foster care, which was a great help. Along with that, my other profession has brought me into contact with many children like Alex, and I already had a sense of how they felt about their homes, and how they felt about leaving them. They don’t usually stand on the outside of their lives and see the “bigger picture” of how leaving a troubled environment could be for the best. They’re living in their own shoes; they see their personal worlds, they see the way the people around them live and that’s often the way they expect to live as well.

    I wanted to be as realistic as possible with Alex, and having him eager to leave behind all he knows for a totally different life just wouldn’t have felt plausible.

  4. The main character has a strong sense of loyalty. I’d even go so far as to describe him as a caregiver. Where does that come from, or why is it so important to him?

    Alex grew up without very much parental guidance. Because of that, he and his sister found they could often only count on each other. As the older sibling, she was his main support system. He tried to be the same sort of support for her, but when he wasn’t able to, it left a void in his life, waiting to be filled. Through the course of the novel he finds a new place to put his loyalty and affection.

  5. What would you most like people to take away from the story?

    Books are often a means by which people become aware of different circumstances. I never set out to write with a “message,” but I do like to present less-seen worlds, whether they be inside a character’s mind, or in a literal setting. Silent presents a way of life that not everyone gets to see on a daily basis, and all I’d really like is for readers to get a chance to experience it through Alex’s eyes.

Now Available from Sara Alva:

Silent Alex’s life as a teenager in South Central L.A. is far from perfect, but it’s his life, and he knows how to live it. He knows what role to play and what things to keep to himself. He’s got it all under control, until one lousy pair of shoes kicks him out of his world and lands him in a foster care group home.

Surrounded by strangers and trapped in a life where he could never belong, Alex turns to the only person lower on the social ladder than he is: a “special” mute boy. In Sebastian, Alex finds a safe place to store his secrets—those that sent him to foster care, and the deeper one that sets him apart from the other teenagers he knows. But Sebastian has secrets of his own, and when tragedy rips the two boys apart, Alex will stop at nothing to find the answers—even if it means dragging them both through a past full of wounds best left buried.

It might just be worth it, for the slim chance at love.

Social Skills Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison.

Jared's attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor's self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?

Pura Vida Simon has found himself in an open relationship for the summer—though not by choice. Instead of wallowing, he’s decided to make the most of a family vacation to Costa Rica by hooking up with the first hot guy available. Trouble is, he has no clue how to go about doing that.

Luckily, he runs into someone with a little more experience. But when the moments of lust turn into something more, Simon isn’t so sure he’ll be able to return to his old relationship. And there’s no way to hold onto this new one, either, as thousands of miles will separate them in only a few short weeks. Either way, he’ll have to learn to let go.

Silent Giveaway!

Sara Alva has generously donated a free e-copy of Silent for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen November 3, 2013.


  1. I've really enjoyed Sara's other books and look forward to reading this new one.

  2. I loved Social Skills beyond measure, and it would be wonderful to win a copy of Silent.
    But I'll get it by hook or by crook, because it's very much a must-read..

  3. I adored Social Skills - I still think about it frequently - and really enjoyed Pure Vida. It would be great to win Silent! Thanks for the interview and the giveaway.

  4. Have enjoyed both Social Skills and Pure Vida. Please count me in too.

  5. Silent sounds like an amazing story. Please count me in!


  6. I have been patiently waiting for this to be published. Social Skills is a must read if you haven't already read it. Pure Vida is also an excellent book. I have very high hopes that this one will be as good if not better than those

  7. Awesome interview! I'm just commenting not entering; I already own Silent - as well as Social Skills & Pura Vida - and I loved it! So good! Nonstop awesomeness! Thanks Sara!


  8. Just love love Sara Alva's writing! I read Social Skills and it was so moving and an emotional read. Can't wait too start Silent!

    Paul Berry

  9. I haven't read any of Sara Alva's books but this one sounds really good and I have already added it to my wishlist :D

  10. Social Skills was one of the first gay YA stories I read and I really liked it. This one sounds great too. I've been a social worker in the child welfare system and it sounds like Sara has done her homework on this one. I'd love to read it.

  11. And the winner is (chosen by random number generator): Jen

    1. Wow! Thanks!! I love Sara Alva's writing. Do I need to do anything to claim the book?

    2. Congrats, Jen! We'll have Sara Alva contact you directly so you can claim your prize. :-)