Hi friends and readers. It’s Monday, and I’m up early to get in some writing on my new novel before work, so while I think about actually getting up to make the coffee and get going, I thought I’d share an interview I did with Dayla of Confessions of a Book Addict on Friday, as part of her series, Interview Fridays. Dayla, who reviewed The After Girls awhile ago, is as thoughtful an interviewer as she is a reviewer. I pasted a few of her questions below (including one that addresses my next project), but click through to see the full post. Also, regarding the GIF above. That’s just Monday fun.
1. Grief is a major theme in The After Girls. What do you think is the hardest stage of grief that your characters have to overcome?
“Acceptance is the hardest, especially when someone dies so young and unexpectedly, like inThe After Girls.
Going back to your old life without someone you love is tough—for Ella, it was returning to work, especially since she surrounded herself with Astrid’s family, and trying to maintain her relationship with her boyfriend, Ben, when she knew he didn’t understand what she was going through.
For Sydney, it was trying to be her usual self, to party and play music and flirt with boys, when she was really consumed with guilt and grief.”
2. Have you encountered loss? If so, how do you think your experience with grief affected your writing?
“I actually lost a friend to cancer about halfway through writing The After Girls. She was only 26. It certainly made everything I was writing more real and important to me. It wasn’t just a story I was making up anymore. It was something I was working through myself. I knew that the book had to be true to the grieving process, and at least for me, I think it is.”
3. How important, in your opinion, is it for writers to let their characters overcome their problems through trial and error, rather than simple solutions?
I detest convenient solutions, and while I’m sure I’ve been guilty of them, I try to avoid them. Ella and Sydney are far from perfect. They argue with each other and their boy interests, they distance themselves from their parents, they’re irresponsible, insensitive, and so consumed in their grief that they often don’t make the right choices. Most of the time, when I’m upset, I don’t make the right choice, either. It takes all of us a few tries to get it right.
Who wants to read about perfect characters?”
4. I love that you explore the many different sides of grief. Which kind of grieving process was the most difficult to write?
“Ella’s process was definitely the most difficult. Sydney was easy—I sent her off to parties and band practices and let her be her amazingly self-destructive self. Ella delved more deeply into her own mind, and at times, her grief pushed her so far that she almost lost touch with reality. Her conflicts were much more internal than external. Crawling into her head was tough, but it was so rewarding.”
5. Teen suicide is a huge and unfortunate theme in contemporary society, so I think it was very important that you touched on it and how it affects the people left over. What other themes that are popular in society would you consider for future novels?
“Racism, sexism, classism and homophobia.
It sounds heavy (and I hate novels that are overly moralistic), but from a teen perspective, I think those issues can be explored really well, and they don’t have to feel like cliched PSAs.
Teens understand feeling like you have to change yourself to fit in—they understand being labeled.
My next project is going to look very closely at a girl who wants desperately to be a star both in her school and town. But as she gets closer and closer to the most popular guy in high school (one from the most well-to-do family in her Southern town), she’s going to realize that labels, status, and the groups we divide ourselves into are not as important as she once thought.”