Aussie YA Bloggers interview Gayle Forman

Kiah @ Forever Kiah

Q. All of your books, especially I Was Here are very emotional and I was wondering what your process is when you’re planning/writing a new novel? Do you get teary when you’re writing those emotional scenes?

My process is just to get as immersed into the story as possible so that I am really feeling what the characters are feeling. There’s a method of acting called method acting that channels the feelings of a character. I supposed I do method writing.  Though I don’t go around staying in character or anything, apparently I do channel them. When I showed my sister a draft of Where She Went, her response was, “I forgive you for being such a bitch,” because she saw I’d been in Adam’s headspace. I do get teary sometimes, though not always at the sad bits. It’s usually a quiet moment that will make me tear up.

Eugenia @ Genie in a Book

Q. ‘You’ve written such moving stories about grief and the effect is has on people – did that affect you personally in the creative process for I Was Here?’

I’m not sure why I’m drawn to writing about grief. I suppose it’s in part because these very painful moments in life also happen to be clarifying moments, when you see the world in a new light and those moments are transformative. I also think there’s something about living through grief—you think you can’t, and then you do—that is actually very hopeful and empowering. With I Was Here, I was writing about grief and guilt, of course, but more than that, I was writing about resilience. Cody is a young woman who has really written herself off, who gives way her power, first to her best friend Meg (she thinks Meg is the sun, she only basks in her reflected glory) and then to the people she meets online. It’s only when she takes the power back, or realizes that maybe she had it all along, that she she begins to heal.

Faith @ Fangirl World

Q. What stemmed your interest in hot guitarists?

I married one.

Myra @ Pieces of Whimsy

Q. Where do you get the ideas for some of the ‘darker’ themes in your book?

I write about the things that are on my mind now. And these are things like love, family, identity, resilience. I think it’s misleading to say that because a book deals with sad subject matter—notably, death, which is an unfortunate byproduct of life—that it’s dark. If you live long enough, you will experience loss—whether it by losing a loved one to death or by losing a sense of your own identity or your innocence. But it’s how you experience it, what you gain from it, how you grow from it…that’s what interests me. I find such stories profoundly hopeful. As for where I get the ideas from: all around, personal experience, people I have known, dreams, my imagination, a mixture of the lot.

Joy @ Thoughts By J

Q. You’ve written mainly contemporary books so far (I Was Here, If I Stay), would you ever consider writing in a completely different genre, and if so what genre?

I could see writing for an older or younger audience but the books I read are by in large set in our world. I am beginning working on something historical, but it’s still this world. I’m interested in books that  are dystopian, but set in our world—something akin to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go—but so far, I haven’t figured out how. It’s challenging for me to write a world  I haven’t walked through. With historical, there’s archival footage and people to to talk to. I admire people who can create whole worlds. I’m not sure I’m one of them.


Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

Q. In I Was Here, Cody has an unconventional way of coping with grief by investigating Meg’s suicide and delving into her friend’s secrets. Is her behaviour something you have personally witnessed or related to, and if not, what sort of research did you have to conduct to write this?

No. I did not personally meet someone who dealt with a suicide the way Cody did, nor I am I advocating her kind of investigation. The kernel of Cody’s behavior, what drives her quest, is a need to find blame elsewhere, which is fairly typical response for suicide survivors. There is so much temptation to blame yourself, and such a desperate desire to find reasons why. That’s what drives Cody. Even when it becomes ever more clear there aren’t reasons why, or the reasons are right in front of her. The suicide support groups in the book, however, are real. I first discovered them when I was writing an article about young women and suicide and I did more research on them while I was writing the book.


Kelly @ Diva Booknerd

Q. The depth of your character development is outstanding. Where do you draw your inspiration from for creating your characters, and which has been your personal favourite so far?

Thank you! That’s a lovely thing to say. I get to know my characters as I write them,though usually I don’t sit down and begin a book until I feel my main character in my bones. But like a friend, you discover more about them the longer you know them, you unpeel  their layers, their nuances,  and you weave that in. My characters feel real to me. Even the secondary characters. Meg’s roommates, I feel very close to them. And Richard’s parents, they’re in two scenes but I know these people deeply. It’s hard to say who’s my favorite. I feel the most kinship with Where She Went’s Adam so I have a special spot for him. I loved Mia like a daughter. And I love Cody, too, for her fierceness, her anger, her flaws. And then there’s Just One Day’s Dee, who I want to be my bestie. I can’t pick just one.

Nara @ Looking for the Panacea

Q. In I Was Here, you were dealing with some pretty serious issues- grief, mental health, suicide- did you find it difficult to write about these issues in a delicate way? How did you find that balance between dark and light?

I used to work at magazine for teen girls and I knew that there was concern with how you wrote about suicide. You don’t want to glamorize it. At the same time, depression and suicide thrive in darkness so I felt it was important to show what happened to Meg, a young woman who wouldn’t get help, whose family kept her condition a secret. That was the balance I tried to strike. The way I did it  was by simply telling the most honest story I could. I know there’s darkness to it but if I’ve done my job well, there’s satisfaction, too, in seeing Cody come out the other side of this. Also, I did write many kitten scenes for a little comic relief.

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Thank you so much to Gayle Forman for answering all our questions! A big thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for organising the book blitz and interview. Make sure you join Aussie YA Bloggers & Readers for more fun events, interviews and features.

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