Author Interview: Grave Things Like Love by Sara Bennett Wealer
We love a good spooky book for Halloween and Grave Things Like Love, a YA romance about a girl who finds out that the funeral home her family owns might be haunted, is the perfect shoo-in for spooky season! Plus, it’s the perfect blend of romance and paranormal (our jam, honestly). We checked in with author Sara Bennett Wealer to talk about MC Elaine, world-building, and what the teen version of Sara would have done if she was dropped into Elaine’s world. Check out our interview below and pick up Grave Things Like Love on October 11th!
Grave Things Like Loveby Sara Bennett Wealer
Published by: RH Childrens Books
on October 11, 2022
A contemporary YA romance with a paranormal twist: what happens when in between trying to decide which boy is the right boy, a girl finds out the funeral home her family owns might be haunted?
Elaine's home is a bit . . . different. It's a funeral home that has been in her family since the 1800s—and it's why everyone calls her Funeral Girl. And even though she's lived there her whole life, there are still secrets to be found.
When Xander, a cute new boy with a penchant for ghost hunting, arrives in town, Elaine feels an instant spark. His daring and spontaneous ways help her go from Funeral Girl to Fun Girl. Then there's Miles, Elaine's oldest friend, who she's starting to see in a completely new light.
After Xander convinces her to stage a seance one night, Elaine discovers that her home might be haunted by a kindred spirit—the daughter of the funeral home's original owner. But who wants to be haunted by the dead when there are boys to spend time with? After all, you only live once. . . .
Interview with Sara Bennett Wealer
When we meet Elaine, she has quite a bit going on. A history as the funeral girl, a new love interest – and an old friend seen in a new light, and now a ghost! What keeps her grounded through all the things pulling her in different directions?
I think the things that are keeping her grounded are the things she actually needs to confront and work on as her story unfolds. Her sense of duty and her anxiety about letting people down are the things that are driving her, but they’re sort of holding everything together with bubble gum – she’s staying “grounded” at the expense of her mental health and her personal boundaries. As all of the stresses start to undo her, and as she looks for new ways to handle them, she learns more about herself, more about her boundaries, and starts giving herself permission to not always be the dutiful friend, daughter, etc .that people expect her to be. In that way, she starts to find her own voice.
Talk to us about the research process and world-building that went into Grave Things Like Love.
I got the idea for Grave Things years ago when I stumbled on a family-owned funeral home in a community I was covering as a newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania. I thought they would make a great feature article, and they allowed me to spend quite a bit of time at their house/business, talking about what it was like and soaking in the atmosphere. I’d always thought it would be interesting to explore how it would feel to be a teen in that setting. In that sense, I was lucky to have actually been in Elaine’s world for a while. I also know the kind of small town she lives in well – so many of my family come from towns like Dodson, and I also grew up in a smaller Kansas town. In this case, world-building came easily! As for research, if I needed to know something about the nitty gritty of how a funeral home works, how bodies are prepared, etc. I was also lucky that YouTube has some great videos with morticians answering all sorts of questions.
If teen Sara lived in a funeral home, what would her experience have been like?
If teen Sara lived in a funeral home, what would her experience have been like? I think it would have been a lot like Elaine’s! Of all the characters I’ve written, she is the one who feels the most like me in terms of my personality, anxiety, etc. I would have wanted to be the dutiful daughter. I would have sung at all the services and helped out in the office. I would have carried a lot of responsibility around and let it eat me up. I also don’t think I would have been as brave as Elaine to allow something like a ghost hunt in my home. In that way, Elaine is braver than me!