Thursday, March 22, 2018

Gayle Forman talks about I HAVE LOST MY WAY, POUR YOUR HEART OUT, the difference between YA and adult, and so much pour.

Come on, of course I adore Gayle Forman. We're both Algonquin authors. We've done events together and she has the coolest necklaces I've ever seen. I'm thrilled to have her here on the blog to talk about her new YA book, I Have Lost My Way, and the journal Pour Your Heart Out.

Gayle is also the author of Leave Me, I was Here, If I Stay, and lots of other great titles you should check out.

Hugs, Gayle! And thank you so much.

Pour Your Heart out is pure genius. I think that adults should and could benefit from this as well. (I admit I am using the book myself!) How did you get this inspired idea? And did you fill it out yourself?

Oh, I wish I could take credit for this one, but really it was the people at Penguin, particularly my wonderful paperback editor Kristin Gilson, who came to me with this idea. They did one for me and one for Jane Austen and I’m telling everyone that me and Jane are going on tour together.

I only just got my copies and have not even thought to fill them out. I have an allergy to anything coloring and crafting that dates back to when I was in kindergarten and my mom had me tested for a gifted program and the results were not only was I not remotely gifted, but because I did not color in the lines I would have problems patterning and reading (ironic, no). But the result of it is that I am resentful (still) to all things coloring and crafting, even though I do enjoy coloring and crafting with my kids. You have inspired me to do the activities with my daughters and get over my childhood trauma. Thank you!

How did you go about selecting the great inspiring quotes in Pour Your Heart Out?

Again, I can take no credit. Penguin selected most of the quotes. I added a few that I knew to be reader favorites or my own. But some of the quotes were so obscure I didn’t recognize them and had to google them to confirm that they were, in fact, from my books.

I love that you write both YA and adult books. I wonder if you can talk about why you have different publishers for each? And also about the different mind-set you must have for each?

My YA books are with Penguin. I love them and they are my home. But Penguin adult and Penguin kid are entirely different companies, in different buildings. So when I wrote Leave Me, it was a submissions process like a debut book.  In the end, I went with Algonquin because the company is so small—they publish about 20 books per year—and having been at the largest publisher (Penguin Random House) I wanted to try a different experience. And I love working with both. The companies feel different in some ways but at the end of the day, they are both populated by people who are passionate about books and who have become my good friends.

I’ve thought a lot about the difference between YA and adult. The process of writing is the same but what differentiates them is the immediacy of the emotional experience. I believe everyone feels things strongly but adults are encouraged to hide their big (immature) emotions. So in adult literature, there’s a lot of subterfuge, a lot of sublimation, a lot of the story revolves around what happens when feelings are not owned. In YA, you can leapfrog over that. Young people are allowed to feel emotions more urgently and immediately and the books show that. You must know that, too, because so much of Cruel Beautiful World is from that urgent, young person’s perspective.

I Have Lost my Way is about love, loss, and finding who you should be, but this is a terrifying thing for young adults, no? (As well as for adults, too.)  How does this book help make that process easier? (I think that it does.)

It makes it easier because it tells you that you are not alone. Which I think holds true for so many books. We live in a society that loves a winner. Everyone is encouraged to brag, post, broadcast, their shiny hash-tagged lives. But everyone has pain. Everyone feels lost. Those feelings are tough enough to handle without the associated shame at feeling lost, sad, etc. Maybe reading about Freya, Harun or Nathaniel, who are each lost in their own way, will bring comfort to readers who are lost in their own way.

I love the title of I Have Lost My Way, because it implies an ask—i.e. help me and also let me help you. Can you talk about this please?

For me, it was more of a confession, and a plea. Because I had lost my own way. I had started, and abandoned, several young adult novels over the last few years.  I hated everything I wrote. It all seemed wrong, inauthentic, inadequate. And this was terrifying. Writing was how I figured out my world, and also how I supported my family. And now, this thing I had always done, taken for granted, I couldn’t do. I have lost my way was the phrase that kept spinning around in my head and then one day, it wasn’t just me saying it but a young woman named Freya who had lost her voice. I wrote it down. And found my way.

What’s obsessing you now and why?
I am obsessed with politics. Not the day-to-day crazy (well, not just that) but the what happens when the so-called powerless become empowered. I have been inspired by the way the Parkland kids have upended the gun debate and, generally, the way the younger generation, has upended our conventional wisdom on everything from gender to race. I think the worst feeling in the world is the sense that things suck and you can’t do anything about it. But then you see these young people, who are like, fuck that, yes we can do something about it. It’s a mental shift, and it’s leading to a paradigm shift. Which isn’t to say there aren’t huge structural systems aimed at keeping the status quo (white supremacy, patriarchy, etc.) but these stirrings, among young people, women and women of color (who are running for office in record numbers) fill me with hope.

What question didn’t I ask that I should have?

You didn’t ask me when we are getting together again.

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