A Q&A with Auriane Desombre | From Karis
In which I get to chat with one of my best and first writing friends ahead of her middle-grade debut!
Hello, friends, and first of all — welcome to the new version of the From Karis newsletter! I moved over to Substack for ease of archiving and a few other things — if you’re getting this email, it’s because you signed up when it was still on Mailchimp. If you don’t wish to get emails from me, you can unsubscribe!
A slight change to the newsletter setup: instead of sending my regular twice-monthly missive, I’ll send one on the first of the month and then some bonus emails (like this one!) at various points throughout. I’ve got a few more author interviews lined up, so if you know of a friend who might like this, why not forward them this email so they can subscribe?
Thanks for reading From Karis! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
And now — let’s chat about Auriane!
Auriane Desombre is a middle school teacher and the author of I Think I Love You,a 2021 YA that’s set over the course of one New York City summer as a group of friends enters a film contest. It’s a sweet sapphic romance and I absolutely loved it.
But the reason we’re here today is to talk about The Sister Split, Auriane’s middle-grade debut. This book, y’all! It’s emotional and sweet and made me cry like five times on a plane. It’s that good!
Let’s dive into the Q&A with Auriane!
What was the inspiration for The Sister Split?
The Sister Split is about Autumn, who has to move away from her beloved home when her mom gets engaged and relocates the family to the suburb where her new fiancé lives. Autumn hates her new home and desperately misses her best friend, so she teams up with her soon-to-be stepsister to stop the wedding. The two scheme up a series of hijinks to drive their parents apart, but end up learning about love and family in a whole new way.
This story started out with a much simpler plot, and the first draft was just about Autumn struggling with the move. As it progressed, I was inspired by Autumn’s complex knot of feelings, that so often comes as a package deal with the experience of being twelve years old. The Sister Split is ultimately about looking for where you belong and how you fit into your world even as it’s all changing around you, which is part of growing up—whether or not you sabotage a wedding in the process.
What do you love about writing middle grade fiction?
I teach fifth and sixth graders, so I know what thoughtful and insightful readers they are! It’s so inspiring to hear my students talk about books, and the passionate and critical way they think about what they read. Middle grade are ready to take on a lot of deep thinking about books, and it feels like an exciting challenge to craft a story that will be meaningful and valuable to them as readers.
What was the most joyful part of the writing process for this book?
I often write feelings first, and the plot grows out of that, and that process was very true for The Sister Split. I had the best time wading through Autumn’s complicated emotions and figuring out what she might want to do with them. The wedding sabotage plot didn’t emerge until several drafts in, when I had a really solid grasp of Autumn’s emotional journey and the slow build of her frustrations over the course of this summer. It’s always a lot of fun for me to get to know a character well enough to let them unfold the plot.
If you could have one dream for this book come true, what would it be?
My biggest hope for any of my books is that I've written a story that kids can connect with and engage with in a way that's meaningful for them. And, ideally, that makes them laugh.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write lots and write toward what brings you joy and makes you think. Read widely. Don’t try to have all the answers figured out before you start writing—part of the joy of the process is the discovery. Find a writing community to keep you afloat and push you forward. Keep an eye out for opportunities to tell a dog he is a good boy.
And there you have it! I simply think Auriane is brilliant and also incredibly delightful, and I hope you’ve loved reading this Q&A. Be sure to check out and pre-order The Sister Split, and follow Auriane on Instagram for updates, including about her next YA and her bad dog, Sammy (whom I love!). If you’re near Pasadena, you can go to Auriane’s book launch at Vroman’s Bookstore where she’ll be in conversation with Marisa Kanter, another fave YA author of mine!
Hope y’all have a beautiful, blissful day filled with good news and joy!
All book links in this newsletter are affiliate links from Bookshop — if you use them, I may get a commission!