Interview with Gayle Forman Part 2 of 2

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by Mike

The View From Here Interview:
Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is an award-winning journalist and regularly writes for Cosmopolitan, The New York Times and leading American teen magazine, Seventeen. IF I STAY is Gayle's third novel and it has just hit The New York Times Bestseller list. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter.

For part 1 of this interview click here.

The film rights for If I Stay have been acquired by the same company that produced Twilight and a number of people have compared your book to Twilight. What are your thoughts on that, given that the two books are very different?

Summit, the company that acquired the rights and produced Twilight, didn't buy If I Stay because they thought it would be another Twilight. There are plenty of paranormal books out there if that is what they were looking for. I think the similarity that they saw and noted was a love story that touched readers and maybe a book—and movie—that had potential to appeal to teenagers and adults, as well. I think Summit did such a great job with Twilight so I was delighted to have them acquire If I Stay. They seem to get the teenager sensibility so well. And now that Catherine Hardwicke is attached to direct I am ecstatic. I think she is incredible. She has this innate sense of teenagers and a genius visual style, so I could not be happier about that.

Would you want to do a cameo if the film is made and how closely would you like to be involved in bringing it to the screen?

Yeah, I'd love to be an extra, along with my husband, in one of the club scenes when the bands are playing. I'd like to be somewhat involved in an advisory capacity, but at the end of the day, making movies is an entirely different animal to making books so I have to let go and trust that Summit and Catherine Hardwicke know what they are doing. And I have to get busy working on new books.

What is it like to have to wait so long between finishing writing the book and seeing it published?

In publishing time, it was actually incredibly fast! I sold the novel to TransworldRHCB last April. To Penguin last May. It came out less than a year later. My other two books had waits of closer to two years. This has been less than a year and there has been a constant build of momentum, which has been terribly exciting. It also explains why I have been waking up at 4 in the morning.

What are your feelings and experiences of book launch parties?

I don't do book launch parties. I have been to too many of them and as a guest I find them depressing. As an author, let's be honest, if the book's a hit, you're jealous and if it's not, the party kind of sucks and I fancy myself a gracious hostess so I don't want to put my guests through that. This year, I threw a little book party but it wasn't for me. I know that sounds like a lame excuse but I threw a book party for my publisher and my agent. I had a cake made in the shape of the book and brought it to the offices. I wanted to say thank you because they have gone above and beyond in getting the word out on this book. I should probably do the same for Random House when I get to England this spring. Anyone know of a good custom cake bakery in London?

Can you tell me about the YA blogger scene where If I Stay has been well received?

The YA bloggers, along with YA librarians and booksellers have taken this book into their hearts and me along with it. The bloggers blow me away because so many of them actually are young adults themselves. Meaning they are teens running their own review web sites, with interviews and features and giveaways. I cannot even get that together on my web site. I've become friends with some of the bloggers but mostly I just lurk because I enjoy seeing the community they have built among themselves. It's been incredible. This goes back to what I was saying before about writing for Seventeen and how great it was writing for teenagers because they are so engaged. The YA bloggers, when they believe in you, they get the word out. You could not ask for a better readership. It is one reason I am so glad to be a teen author.

Do you have any tips for authors to feel less isolated?

Get out from behind your desk. Some days I'll be feeling really melancholy and then I'll get up and go out and talk to humans when I pick my kid up from school and I'll go "oh, that's right. I've been alone all day. I'm just lonely." Also, start your own blog. It feels like a little lifeline into the abyss and I've made friends that way. Put email on your website and correspond to people. And Facebook. I spend far, far too much time on Facebook but it does make me feel more connected.

Do you read reviews of your own books and how effected by them are you?

Yes I read them and I'm more affected that I care to admit. And not just by a professional review but by just reader reviews. Yesterday I read a review on Amazon that made me cry (in a good way). I've had bad reviews for my other books that gave me pits in my stomach for days. I know I should toughen up or not read them, but I can't. But the reviews for If I Stay have mostly made me feel incredible good and incredibly grateful and often make me feel like they must be talking about someone else.

Do you think we are in a time of growth in quality in YA literature or decline?

This is the golden age of YA literature. Both in quality—when Sherman Alexie is now predominantly a YA writer, when Nick Hornby is doing YA, you know the quality is top shelf—and in terms of sales. Other sectors of publishing are really taking a hit. YA is flourishing. Readers seem to know that. Booksellers are seeming to get that. It seems like the literary establishment might be the ones slow to catch on. But they're getting there.

Have you started your next book yet and can you tell us something about it?

I have in fact finished my next book. And, no, it's not a sequel to If I Stay, though I am getting some requests for that. I am not ready to say goodbye to Mia and Adam yet but I am also not ready to revisit them right away. So this next book is about the ultimate, beautiful, popular indulged bitch—and the transformation that sends her to the bottom of the social ladder and leads to her own sort of spiritual awakening. It's a Jane-Austen-esqe comedy, social commentary, and a romance. And my attempt to turn that whole genre of Mean-Girl lit (Gossip Girls et al) on its ear. So, quite different as you can see. See what I mean about the Gemini opposites thing?

The book's tag line is "What would you do if you had to choose?" Are you any good at making decisions yourself and can you share a time when you've had to make a tough decision?

I tend to waffle over things like what to order at a restaurant but when it comes to the big decisions in life—drop everything to take a year off to travel? adopt a child?—I'm decisive and luckily my husband and I tend to agree on the big issues. But I have never had to make anything like the kind of decision Mia makes and I pray that I never will—or indeed, that anyone reading this ever will.

Thanks for a great interview Gayle and good luck with the book.

To visit Gayle's website click here.


Kerrie Anne said...

excellent interview Mike. and what fascinating and interesting woman.

Mike French said...

Thanks Kerrie - looking forward to your interview with Andrew Davidson next week here at TVFH :-)