Interview: Gayle Forman

NRR: Can you share with us how you got started into writing?

I've always made up stories—since before I could write I was making up these outrageous stories, the sorts of fabrications that I'm shocked didn't get social services called on my family. And I started writing in earnest—stories, poems, plays—when I was in middle school. I kept it up all through my teens and early twenties but I never considered WRITING, as in writing for a living until college. I didn't start college until I was 21 (I took a few years off to travel) and then when I did decide to go, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. When that didn't pan out, I wound up taking random classes, including journalism. I realized that was what what I wanted to do as a career so that was the first time I realized I wanted to—and could—write professionally. I didn't realize I wanted to be a fiction writer until maybe 13 years later, after I had my first child, when I wrote my first novel.

NRR: What authors/books help inspire your writing career?

I think I absorb a piece of every book I read—the ones I love and the ones I don't love, and lately, I have loved Colum McCann's LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN and on the YA side I fell in love with an upcoming release called I'LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan. But it's not just books. I am inspired by music (obviously) and by running through the park (with music on) and by TV shows (I've been re-watching HBO's The Wire with my husband recently and it's struck me how everything you need to know about writing a good novel is in the five seasons of that show. I just suck up inspiration and help from all around me. And of course, the other YA authors in my life—there's an amazing YA author community in NYC and I'm connected to other YA authors online—help keep me sane enough to stay inspired. And their books inspire me further.

NRR: What made you want to write in the Young Adult genre?

It was never a decision. These are the stories I want to tell. These are the characters who come into my head. I like young people. I like high concept. I speak in this younger voice anyhow. It's not much of a stretch. I'd be hard pressed to write an adult novel without putting myself to sleep.

NRR: How were you inpired to write Where She Went?

I wasn't so much inspired as forced. Okay, that's a wee bit dramatic. But I had no intention of writing a sequel but after I finished If I Stay, Adam and Mia kept whispering in my ear. They didn't like where I'd left them, the uncertainty, and once I started listening to them, I started imagining how  I could get them out of that limbo and once that happened, it all came together: how it would be Adam's story, how it would be several years later. Once I'd imagined that, I had no choice but to write Where She Went.

NRR: What is your guilty pleasure?

It's so dull and domestic but when the kids are asleep, the husband and I watch DVDs of all the TV shows that we never see because we don't have cable (and because he's too snobby to watch most stuff). Hence, the re-watching of The Wire. Or Project Runway. But after a long day of writing and kid raising and cooking and cleaning, it's the best.

NRR: Can you share with us a little about Where She Went?

It takes place more than three years after the accident in If I Stay. Adam and Mia have not seen each other at all in nearly all that time so they are virtual strangers. Adam is a rock star now, with a different girlfriend, and I'd say on the verge of losing his mind. He's in New York City for one night before heading off on a European tour. And let's just say that he and Mia wind up seeing each other, because of music. Like If I Stay, it takes place in about 24 hours, and like the first book it's about one chance to redefine a life. Adam's this time. But of course, everything Adam does is about Mia so it's all about her, too. This book is all Adam and Mia. And New York City, too. There's a ton of the city. And music, of course.

NRR: What can readers expect to see from you next?

Ahh, I'm finishing up a new novel, but no one has seen it yet, so must keep quiet on that for now. When there's news, I'll let you know over on my blog at www.gayleforman.com/blog

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