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Rhody Radio episode transcription has been been made possible by the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, which is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


2023 Reading Across Rhode Island with Sara Nović, author of TRUE BIZ🧏

Author photo of Sara Nović and her book True Biz.

TAYLA: Hello and welcome to the special 2023 Reading Across Rhode Island with Down Time with the Cranston Public Library and Rhody Radio. I am the host Tayla at the Oak Lawn Branch of the Cranston Library and my pronouns are she and her. I am honored to be joined by Sara Nović, author of True Biz, and Nancy Maguire-Heath, Honorary Chair for Reading Across Rhode Island. Thank you both so much for joining me today.

SARA: Thank you for having us.

NANCY: It’s really a pleasure. I just want to make a correction, my name is Maguire-Heath. My name is Nancy Maguire-Heath.

TAYLA: I’m so sorry

NANCY: It’s alright! Us double named people confuse the world.

TAYLA: Thank you also to the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the Cranston Public Library for funding ASL interpreting and transcription for this episode. Video version of the episode will also be released on the podcast feed and you can find a direct link to back in the show notes. Later in this episode we will talk about True Biz and the Reading Across Rhode Island programming planned for later this spring.

But first let's start off as we always do with what have you been reading?

NANCY: Do you want to go first Sara?

SARA: Do you want to go first? [laughter]

NANCY: Other than True Biz which I have read several times, I have been reading some really good stuff. I have been reading The Personal Librarian. I don't know if you are familiar with that, it is by [Marie Benedict] and Victoria Christopher Murray. I highly recommend it. It is about a woman of color who had to pass as a white woman in order to take a position as the personal librarian for J.P. Morgan. She helped him establish his wonderful library in New York City.

I have been reading Dinners with Ruth by Nina Totenberg which is also fascinating about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Then Dear Mr. Hamilton which is a historical fiction. I have a weakness for historical fiction. By Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray. It is a really great book about Alexander Hamilton's wife Eliza. All 3 of those this past month and I have enjoyed all of them.

SARA: They all sound great thanks for the recommendations! I am trying to think about what I was reading. I just finished a book called Invisible... The Invisible Child. The author's name is Andrea Elliott. She started writing the book as a series for the New York Times. It was in regard to children in poverty not having homes. It became a big book and it followed the family for about 10 years approximately. It is amazing. It shows the frustrations and the… It is hard to read but I think it is very much worth it.

I also am reading a book called Our Missing Hearts. The author is Celeste Ng. I am a huge fan of her work anyway. Anytime I have an opportunity to read something she has written I will read it. I have really enjoyed it so far as I always do with her books.

NANCY: What have you been reading Tayla?

TAYLA: I have been cramming to finish True Biz for this interview so it is fresh in my mind. I am excited to talk about it a bit later. I was wondering while we are still talking about books, Sara especially but Nancy if you have recommendations as well if people read True Biz and they are looking for some more books featuring Deaf characters if you had recommendations of titles that you really enjoyed?

SARA: I have a list that I can send you that you can maybe add to the show notes may be. Some books written by Deaf authors. There is a book I really enjoyed I recently read called Show Me a Sign. That book is about... well, it is fiction but it is kind of related to the community. It is based on Martha's Vineyard Island. A long time ago there were a lot of Deaf individuals living there generationally. They had their own sign language. The book is pretty much about that. I really enjoyed it. One of my college classes I used it to teach using young author fiction writers.

TAYLA: I believe that is one of the read across Rhode Island companion pick to go with your book.

SARA: Perfect.

TAYLA: They wanted books for younger audiences to go with True Biz being an adult book. I would say it has adult and young adult crossover in my opinion. I am pretty sure I saw that is one of them.

SARA: That is nice, that's perfect.

NANCY: There have always been books with Deaf characters but historically, the Deaf characters have been portrayed not like the people I know who are Deaf. They have been portrayed as characters who deserve pity or who are lacking. It is so exciting to finally have a generation of authors who are writing about real people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. And also just including them in fictional stories and not all characters are characters of privilege or characters who are hearing but to see a diversity of characters including Deaf and Hard of Hearing characters included in regular books and stories, it is great.

We started to see it with children's books. An enormous amount of children's books that now portray Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in a positive light. Now we are seeing a lot more that in adult literature or at least a little bit more and I am hoping it will be lot more. However for many years when we would study Deaf characters in literature with students, we looked as far back as the Canterbury Tales. They had a Deaf character. But they are not necessarily people you can identify with.

That is part of why I love True Biz and why I encourage people to read it. They are everyday people and they are as diverse as the community is. That is what I love about what Sara wrote. She included so many different Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the different relationships they have in the book. I just think we need more real novels like that. Real stories where Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and their true struggles or their true achievements are talked about. Like everyone else. Right?

TAYLA: Definitely. For sure.

SARA: Completely agree. I remember the first time I read a book that had a Deaf character and it was in graduate school. That entire time it took for me to actually see that. I recognized the Deaf character and I got so excited to see it. As I began reading the book however, I was like, wow. This is terrible. Basically it was just terrible. The character themselves was very lonely and isolated. By the end, they had killed themselves because they were so depressed. I thought oh my God! It was a bad first experience for me. I was very excited about it and then to see that was very disappointing. I think it was part of the motivation of writing this book as well was because of that experience.

TAYLA: Nancy when you are talking about the subtle representations have gotten better I will be true to character and throw in one graphic novel recommendation while we are talking about books with Deaf characters. It is not a character that uses ASL but visibly wears hearing aids. I thought the book visually did well with the speech bubbles and then they would have squiggles and lines when she either had them out and people were trying to talk to her and she could not understand them but that was not the main part of the book.

The main book was about magic and werewolves and a fun time. The title is Moon Cakes and the author will be in the show notes because I was not expecting to talk about the book. That subtle representation that she's there but it is not about that. It is a fantasy and magical realism title. If students are looking for that or people in general, they can see themselves in the genres that they enjoy as well as realistic fiction.

NANCY: Another graphic novel that many children have been reading in the last few years particularly in Rhode Island is El Deafo. It's about a Deaf and Hard of Hearing child. I was invited to dinner at a friends house and I had not been to their home and they had 4 children. Their 10-year-old when she asked me what I did for a living and I said I work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and teenagers, she said, have you read El Deafo? I was quite surprised that that was the first thing she brought up. It is clear that book is being used a lot of schools around here. It is an open door to begin the discussion about all kinds of different hearing levels and how people live their lives. Right?

TAYLA: I think that's the other companion read. I think we have them all now!

SARA: Perfect.

TAYLA: All right before we jump into talking about True Biz, have you both been watching anything interesting lately?

SARA: I think like everybody else in the nation, I have been watching the Last of Us. That is really good. There is also a Deaf character. I think 2 weeks ago in the episode they showed a Deaf character. I have really been enjoying that. It is funny because my partner loves TV and movies and everything. But I am more if I want to watch TV and sit down and watch something, I need to watch something that makes me turn off my brain. So I tend to watch the good movies and TV shows with him but when I am alone I watch cooking TV. Love is Blind and those kind of trash TV things. Garbage TV. I love it.

TAYLA: You are definitely not along with wanting your TV to be something that helps you turn off your brain!

NANCY: If I allow myself I could be a real Netflix junkie. Just watch and watch and watch one episode after another. There is not a lot of on regular TV that I watch anymore but I do like a series called the Resident. I have been following that now and I think this is the fourth or fifth season. I think it is a great show. I would go back and start from the beginning if you're going to watch it. But I have really enjoyed that particular show.

I also like the Good Doctor. It is based on an Australian novel about a neurodiverse doctor, a man with autism who is a doctor. I have enjoyed that as well. If you had to make me choose I would say the Resident is my favorite. I do not go for medical shows usually but these 2 have really grabbed me. The character development in the resident is particularly good. I really enjoyed that.

TAYLA: I think they can be like stories with humans at the center, very character driven human drama kind of stories. Even if you do not think of yourself as somebody who is attracted to or interested in the medical field in any way, I feel like medical shows can sometimes have a really human element that is appealing.

I think it was 2 weekends ago now. I watched Bullet Train with my partner. If you like a fun action movie, I think Netflix described it as Deadpool crossed with Knives Out. It definitely has that vibe. The director was involved on the direction and production team for Deadpool so I think it had the vibe of action movie but not like a dumb action movie. There is wittiness. It kind of reminded me of Pulp Fiction a bit. There is a lot of different character stories going on at the same time. Stories that are focused on this one thing and also a briefcase now that I think about it. We know what is in this briefcase. It's money.

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TAYLA: I want us to have enough time to talk about True Biz. I thought we would start out...

SARA: Let's do it.

TAYLA: Sara could you talk a bit about what True Biz is about?

SARA: Sure. I still think this is such a hard question. I should know by now obviously. Basically, the book is about 3 Deaf students. The fourth character is a principal. She is hearing she is CODA. In the beginning we are talking about 3 kids that run away and the rest of the book is trying to understand where they went and why. Also the way all of their lives and their experiences with the chaos and everything going on, how that is overlapped within each other's lives. And you kind of follow that along.

I think definitely it is a coming-of-age story. It is also a little bit of a middle-age story too. For the principal and her experiences and with her parents, becoming older and having to take care of her parents. The problems within her relationship as well as the struggles she has at work and how that all coincides at the same time. It is a growing up tale at the same time.

TAYLA: I think you can understand why you find it to be such a hard question explaining the book because I think the book does a lot. I think that covers a lot but without being overwhelming. I feel like I saw so much into Deaf Culture and learned so much about Deaf Culture more than I ever learned in an ASL course that I have taken.

In the book you hit on some major things they will talk about if you take an introductory course like you said about Martha's Vineyard and how they had an insular community of Deaf people who had their own sign language that later mixed and became part of what we know to be ASL today. I knew about Deaf President Now as well before reading the book. There is also a lot of things that you touch on that I had never heard about and I do not think I would have heard about if I had not gotten to look into this Deaf school and this microcosm of Deaf culture. That is really wonderful. It was wonderful to read.

SARA: I am happy that you enjoyed it and you learned something that is great.

NANCY: Sara I have to say every time I read it - I have read it three times - I am amazed at how you manage to touch on so many issues that I deal with every day. You put it all between 2 covers. There are so many things you talk about the feelings of the CODA and the hearing interpreter who has a Deaf child and then a hearing child. You talk about February the principal of the school and how she lives with both of these cultures. These are things we see every day. You talk about the student who arrives at school and has never been a signer is just beginning to learn how to sign and how she and her dad go to class together and how they respond differently to the sign class as a hearing person and a Deaf person.

You talk about those who sign and those who do not that are all in the Deaf Community. You talk about the world of the Deaf not being a flat culture but a rich culture. Each individual is rich and living their full lives like anyone else. People tend to think of our community as they are all the same and that cannot be further from the truth. You have all of that between the covers of this book and so much more. The coming-of-age story, the different peer groups that Charlie deals with. I want to talk to you about Wanda. She is a character I want to know so much more about! I want you to write a sequel about Wanda! I have so many things.

SARA: I love her - I love Wanda.

NANCY: I loved her too and I just thought there is not enough about Wanda. There are so many things I deal with every day in our community. I could not get over how you have managed to touch them with such grace without overdoing it. Sometimes you can be trying to touch on too much and it would overdo it. It did not at all. It flowed. I think that's magic so thank you for that.

SARA: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that you felt that way. That was obviously a huge concern for me. First of all, I want to show the Deaf Community and the way they really are. The diversity within the community. The diverse experiences as a Deaf individual. There are all kinds of different people in the community and I wanted to be sure to show that. At the same time, I did not want to preach and lose the story. That was one thing I was very concerned with.

NANCY: You successfully managed though to keep this thread going through these different stories, that at the heart of being human is communication. That is the thing I want parents to understand when they bring a child here. At the heart of being human is the ability to communicate with each other. To express ourselves honestly. You kept that thread going through the book and I kept going how is she doing that? I envy that you can write that way. I am not try to flatter you I was very impressed by it.


NANCY: I attended a group book discussion and everybody else in the room had never even met a Deaf person but that is what they came away with. Through all of those stories, the need for communication and access and to be able to really reach each other as human beings was so important. I thought it was great.

SARA: Thank you.

TAYLA: Before Sara melts into her chair

SARA: Bye!

TAYLA: Let's move on to - I know we have touched on it a bit in our discussion about books with Deaf characters but I wanted to touch on Sara, why did you write True Biz; what inspired you to write the book?

SARA: We do not often see ourselves in books. If you do see a Deaf character, typically it tends to be 1. They are isolated or lonely. I wanted to write a book 1st where there were many Deaf characters. Also where we would have fun. Sometimes Deafness or Deaf stories can become a device in the story. The Deaf characters many times are more showing pity. Instead of showing them doing normal everyday life things, they become a character you pity.

Those were the 2 big motivations and the third one I would say, the first part when I wrote about a character named Charlie, it started because I read an article regarding implants. An implant company that does cochlear implants. They were being sued because the implants were not working. They are inside people's bodies. The company was aware that they had broken down and were not working but they continued to sell that model and implant individuals. The thing I read was a little nothing article. You never saw anything about it again. But I was stuck with that and obsessed over it. Thinking about why is this not a bigger story? It is a dangerous thing for a medical company to do something like that. But because our society and what we see the implant as magical equipment to fix that. To fix hearing loss. I wanted to remove that picture of that. That image. I began thinking about, how could I get the message out there so more people would think about not necessarily negative or positive things but just start thinking about it more. About implanting and Deafness.

But at the same time, think about people who have these broken down implants. How do they feel? It is inside their body. I was curious about that feeling as well. What does that look like? How does that feel? In the fiction I tried to put on that character of that other person. To explain it. I really delve deeply into their minds and bodies and feelings. That is the gift of fiction. We have the opportunity to really put the mask on and become those characters. That was kind of my starting place. But I really had no other plans for the book. I did not know what was going to happen within the storyline itself until it began progressing. I was kind of creating this 1 character and followed it to see where it would lead me.

TAYLA: So Charlie is where everything started and you built up the other characters from there?

SARA: Yes Charlie is where it started. But also Eliot as well. Eliot was a short story I had written. While I was writing the book, I had 100 pages or more of his story. Then I had to delete some of that away. Edit it down. But most of it I got rid of I think. With Charlie I started writing and I thought, what if Elliot and Charlie met? So I brought them in together. I started thinking what other kind of Deaf people with Charlie meet? That is when I came up with Austin. He had generations of Deafness. Austin really started a little bit as a joke as well because I want to show people and have them think what happens if your family freaked out if you were born hearing? The opposite is true with hearing family that freak out when they have a Deaf child. So I thought it would be funny to play with that concept and expand the concept in the story and the background.

TAYLA: I am also curious about what led you to include February and the CODA perspective. For listeners who have not heard the acronym stands for Children of Deaf Adults

SARA: Yes. I think CODA are important parts of the community. I think they have a real interest within our community. Most Deaf individuals have hearing parents. So we do not learn our language from our parents. CODA are very unique. They are some of the few individuals that have that generational language tradition that they learned from their parents and pick up from their families. So I think it was very interesting and consequently I thought about what would happen if you had a first language was ASL and then you were hearing individual and you are on the border of those communities. Then you have two code switch within a hearing persons world. The hearing person may not feel that way but that is kind of what the character had to do.

TAYLA: It is the struggle of being bi- anything - having that prefix "bi-" in front of whatever identity you have. It can be the struggle of feeling like you are between 2 worlds and not enough of either of them. In February case not hearing enough but also not Deaf enough because she could hear.

SARA: Exactly. I think February walks around in a world where everyone is hearing. But inside, I think she does not really feel like that. She does not feel like she is a hearing individual. Also, she is trying to prove herself, always. Because she does not fit in either world.

NANCY: I think that can be applied to as you said "bi-" anything. My first language is not English. I was raised in a family from the Azores. My first language was Portuguese. As I grew up in the United States and I started to become a student and I began loving learning, I started to live in 2 very different worlds. There is always that sense of judgment from both sides. I was not living the immigrant experience the way my parents expected. But yet, I did not ever feel like I measured up to those well educated students with parents who had gone to college, etc.

There is that tension and that judgment or you think it is a judgment. It may not be but that is what it feels like inside. Many times I had to ask myself which world am I really living in? I felt that way with February and I think her attraction to Wanda has a lot to do with the fact that inside, she does not necessarily feel like a hearing person. She felt so comfortable with Wanda who is a Deaf person. Maybe that is why I was so drawn to Wanda because I thought that is the key to February’s heart right there.

SARA: Yes, yes! That is exactly right. Yes.

TAYLA: I also wanted to talk a bit and I heard you in another interview talking about how difficult it was to put ASL on the page. I was hoping you could talk a bit about that process and how you ultimately came up with how it is structured in the book.

SARA: Yes that was one of the biggest challenges for me with writing the book. I mean, ASL is so rich. You are changing from 3D and putting it down in 2D format and you will lose a lot. I was trying to think. I know I am going to lose some of that but how can I show it, especially for hearing people, show the Deaf characters within the book that ASL is not broken English? It is really a clearer and better language for them than English can be. I did a lot of bad experiments!

The first thing I did try to do is use what we call gloss. It means basically you are writing down a straight translation in English. On paper. But within the ASL word order. So I tried that first. But then I knew hearing people who read it would be like it has broken English. No I threw that experiment out. Then the second thing I tried for a while there is something using colors. Then I tried something where I wrote the words on the page related to where our bodies would be in relation to each other. That is -- that was the worst one. It had the language everywhere. I thought that did not work out because it looked really bad.

Finally, I realized, okay, using the space on the paper, the space to show the reader who is speaking. In ASL, if I am sitting here having a conversation I set up things spatially when I am talking about different characters. If I am going to talk about this over here or you over here, I will remember who that is later once I have set them up. What place they are going to be. I played a bit with that dialogue in the book as well of where I set up the dialogue. So we can have the spatial use of ASL and then on the page it is setup that way so you know where people are speaking from and what place they are standing. Conversely with that, when people are speaking in English, I decided to write it without quotation marks. That made a lot of people very angry! I get it but that was the point.

TAYLA: I was going to ask you that follow-up question. I have a theory of why you did it but I wanted to see if I was right. Why you chose to omit quotation marks for speaking characters when people were using their voice.

SARA: Yes. I wanted hearing people to have a little bit of an experience of what you have to do and how hard the work is for Deaf people to pay attention to who is talking and what are they are saying and trying to lip-read. That was one tiny part, but I am hoping if you look at that dialogue and compare it to the ASL dialogue, you can see, wow look at the space and how it is being used because it is clearer when an individual is using sign as opposed to lines of English. That forces the hearing individuals to do more work.

TAYLA: Okay that is what I suspected. The English major in me is happy that I interpreted that intention correctly. Also funny related to that before we really got into a lot of sign in the book, at first I thought Mel was Deaf. I said oh she is a CODA and she met somebody who is Deaf through the Deaf community and they are signing the whole time. Then I saw how sign was set up on the page as we got into the book more. And I was like - oh, I had been reading the whole thing wrong! It was like 1/4 of a way into the book. I was able to course correct in my brain pretty quickly but still, I was like "ohhh!"

SARA: You had to go back.

TAYLA: It is all making sense now. Before we talk to Nancy a little bit about the Reading Across Rhode Island program, is there anything else Sara you want people to know about True Biz?

SARA: I think for me, one thing that is wonderful about the reading program that Rhode Island has is many individuals are able to see the book that they may not normally see. I do want to encourage people who know the story in the book, yes they are Deaf. But the story itself is universal. It is really about trying to find your place in the world. And everyone I think can understand that and empathize with it. Do not be scared!

TAYLA: So Nancy, I want to talk a bit about maybe for people who do not understand what it means that you were named the honorary chair of Reading Across Rhode Island. I was curious about what that entailed with you and what your role has been this year now that you were named honorary chair and they chose True Biz as their book?

NANCY: Well, I had read the book when it first came out. I was really excited and I did not know what to do with my excitement. I just saw so many possibilities in the book. Then I got a phone call saying, would you like to be an honorary chair? I said no. I think I would be willing to co-chair but I think the chair should be a Deaf person. Then they said, do you know anyone else who has read it or would want to be a chair in the Deaf community? I could think of several people but I thought about the chairman of our Board of Trustees Amanda Montgomery.

She herself has had a very interesting journey and different educational experiences. She is an attorney. She has been a wonderful chair to the board, encouraging our school in the 11 years I have been here. When they asked her, she was very excited and it was such an honor to co-chair with her particularly. That is how it started.

From there it was interesting how it mushroomed. I attended a book group in Lincoln at the library and it was about a different book altogether. It was about the Personal Librarian that I mentioned earlier. While we were there the woman who facilitated that discussion said, the next book is going to be True Biz. I almost jumped out of my chair! I could not get over there were already people reading it even before they knew it was Reading Across Rhode Island.

So once Reading Across Rhode Island began publicizing the book and we started having our students read it, we just got lots of calls and conversations. We had many discussions in the teachers lounge about the book. Two of the seniors reading asked me to come to their classroom because they wanted me to hear their discussion about the book. That was very exciting. It has just been growing and growing as I know more book groups are reading it.

I know one of the teachers here who is the president of our teachers union will be leading a discussion at the state union with a representative from the union. So you can see all different places are beginning to look at the book. I cannot think of a better thing to do. For having all of these people get introduced to a culture they might think they know but they do not. Or they have never been exposed to it before. What a wonderful way for our state to increase its awareness about the Deaf community. We are a small state. But I think many states could replicate what we are doing. I really do. Is that what you are looking for?

TAYLA: Yes that was great. So you have been using it at the RI School for the Deaf as an educational tool? How is your student body reacting to the book?

NANCY: It has been really exciting actually to hear the things they focus on. They are young people and I thought they might focus on something different than what they have focused on. That tells you how old I am! A little out of touch with what they are interested in. They were very interested – I do not want to blow the story for anyone who has not read it but, they were very interested in some of the action that takes place particularly toward the end. The students are somewhat involved in this and they wanted to talk about it. They were very focused on the whole thing. Why did this happen? Why is it the way it ends? That was really interesting.

Then to get them to reflect on the many different Deaf and Hard of Hearing characters in the book was such a joy for me. They do not always stop to think about how diverse their own community is. It was wonderful to have them stop and reflect about that. What is it that ties them all together even as diverse as they are. That was great.

Then one of the teachers, we have a group of students who came to language very late. They have really had experienced language deprivation or language insufficiency. Their reading level, the book is written at too high of a level for them so what the teacher did was take it chapter by chapter and created readable summaries of each chapter with direct quotes for each chapter in her summaries. So this group of students who could not have accessed the book otherwise, they have also read the book but read it through the summaries.

That group was so excited to read a book about themselves. There were 9 of them in the group and they could not get over that the book was by a Deaf author and written about Deaf people. I loved their discussions. They do not always get to access terrific books that we all love. And many of the books that are written at a high interest and low readability level they lose their -- richness of the language. These chapters about the teacher summarize, she tried to maintain the richness of the language that Sara used. I was very excited for the kids to have access to it.

SARA: That really makes me happy. It is funny as well because I had conversations with a school for the Deaf in Colorado. It was Virtual with them. It was funny to see the same thing really. What really interests them and what they got involved with. They love the triangle and they were obsessed with it. Which will Charlie pick? Which boy? They wanted to fight each other over it. Oh my gosh I thought it was amazing. It was funny to see really -- I was happy to see they had a book where they could see the Deaf characters in love and in a love triangle. To have that in-depth discussion and debate with each other was awesome and very cute.

NANCY: It has been great to see the student reaction. I learned so much from watching them discuss the book. It was great. This one group is just finishing it now and I think they have one more week to go so I will go in on the last day and have them summarize things for me. It will be great. I have had 3 different groups of students reading.

TAYLA: Nancy is there anything else you would like to say about Reading Across Rhode Island before we wrap up?

NANCY: Just what a gem it is. I think people do not realize what they have in this. Last year's book was terrific. This year's book of course I am very biased. This is the last year of my career, I am retiring this year. I felt like this was a personal gift to me that the state would look at this book in my final year after 47 years in my profession. What a way to go out, to be able to discuss the Deaf Community that I love and the Deaf characters in this book that portray such a richness of life. It felt so personal. Sara you don't even know me but it felt very personal! It has been great and fun.

SARA: That is awesome and congratulations on your retirement.

NANCY: Thank you.

TAYLA: We will wrap up with a segment called Last Chapter where we talk about a library or bookish related question. I thought I would ask you both, and you can pick 1 person is who you would cast in a dream cast of your favorite book. If it were be if it would be a TV show or a movie. That is a hard one I know. Or maybe one of the books you talked about today if it is too hard to think about picking a favorite book 1st.

SARA: I cannot pick a favorite book! My brain shut down really quick.

NANCY: I don't know that is a hard question. I would need to give that some thought.

TAYLA: Okay let me switch and make a last-minute change to rework the question. Pick a character from True Biz. If True Biz were to become a TV show or a movie who would you want to play that character? Have you given some thought to this Sara?

SARA: That is much easier.

TAYLA: Have you given some thought to if True Biz were ever adapted to you would want to be involved?

SARA: Yes right now we are in the beginning stages, very, very beginning stages of trying to pitch and develop something for TV. But one of the individuals I am working with is Millie Simmonds who is in the movie a Quiet Place. The little girl in that movie. She would be perfect for Charlie.

NANCY: Yes I can see that.

SARA: She is a big supporter of the book. She said she saw a lot of herself in the story. She herself was implanted. She is CI user. The family was strongly opinionated about if she should be allowed to sign or not. So seeing that experience she saw that experience in the book and she really identified with the character. And in general, she is an amazing actress as well. So if it gets made I think she would be perfect for Charlie.

TAYLA: I feel like we are revealing breaking news here on Down Time. Hope we are not breaking any of your NDA's.

SARA: No. Most of the time things never happen. It would be fun though!

TAYLA: Nancy is there anyone you would want to see in a True Biz adaptation?

NANCY: I cannot really say. I do not say this just because it feels politically correct but I would like to see as many Deaf actors and actresses in the show as possible. That would be really wonderful to have them portray real Deaf people or have real Deaf people portray Deaf characters. That would be really terrific. We will keep our fingers crossed.

SARA: Thank you. Same.

NANCY: How exciting.

TAYLA: Sara where can people find you online if they want to learn more about True Biz and your other books and upcoming projects?

SARA: I have a website that is just my name That is a good place to find information. Events, etc. If you want to see me yell on the Internet you can find my Twitter @novicsara. I am also on Instagram as well @photonovic.

TAYLA: All right fantastic.

SARA: And I will be in Rhode Island in April.

AYLA: Right yes we will have information about that event in the show notes. You will be in-person in an event next month. As I said check out the show notes and You will find out more information about that.

Thank you both for joining me. I want to thank everyone who is listening or watching. As I said for more information about Reading Across Rhode Island and upcoming events in celebration of this year's selection True Biz, visit our There also resources you can find their if you want to discuss True Biz with your bookclub or use it as a teaching tool.

If you want to share this episode on social media or with a friend, we would appreciate it. We want to get word out not only about our respective podcasts but about the Reading Across Rhode Island program and of course True Biz. Again, thank you both so much for joining us. This has been another episode of Down Time and Rhody Radio.

NANCY: Thank you, Tayla.

TAYLA: Thank you!

SARA: Thank you, thank you so much.


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