2 Weeks Till Truest: Q&A with Truest Author Jackie Lea Sommers

t2It’s safe to say that I’m freaking out (in a good way!). Two weeks A fortnight* till my book is released!

*way cooler 🙂

Back in June, I asked folks if they had any questions about anything Truest-related, with the intent of writing this blog post. Today I’m answering those questions!

What inspired the characters?
In January 2012, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was published, and when I read it, I loved the character of Augustus Waters so much that I quit working on the story I was writing at the time and told myself, “I’m going to try writing YA. And I’m going to start with a character I LOVE.” What resulted was Silas Hart, who was the cornerstone around which the rest of Truest was built. So, while Silas and Augustus may bear similarities, it was not that I wanted to re-make Augustus Waters but that Gus (and John Green) inspired me to start writing for young adults and to start with characters before all else. Hence, I named the town Green Lake. 🙂 Thanks, John! DFTBA.

Who is your favorite character? Who is not your favorite but intrigues you the most?
Silas is my favorite. Silas would have been my dream boy when I was seventeen. Laurel fascinates me. So does Whit. And Gordon too. I’d love to know more of Gordon’s history. I’d like to explore more of Whit’s future. I’d be remiss to not mention that I also adore West. I knew I’d be spending several years with these characters; I made them into people I wanted to spend time with.

Does this mean you’ll write another story about them?
Maybe! I’d love to revisit Green Lake 4-5 years down the road and see what trouble Whit has gotten himself into.

What comes first in your writing process, plot or characters? Do you have a system for keeping track of details like character back story?
Characters. My stories are character-driven vs. plot-driven. Even if they were plot-driven, I would still start with characters. As far as keeping track of details: my brain is a bit of a steel trap. I also do a lot of work-arounds, for example, maintaining “West’s summer calendar.” Some of the backstory I had to write just to write it– just to know it, even if it never appears in the story. I wrote out a sort of “History of Green Lake” to establish the long-time friendship of some of the characters. Even those most of those stories don’t appear in Truest, it helped me to approach the story differently, with a greater sense of history.

How many of your own traits did you put into your characters?
I can be a bit bossy like West; we’re also both deeply curious and love to read. Silas and I are both writers and “get” each other on that level. He has writer’s envy just like I do. Laurel and I have had similar thought patterns. In fact …

How did you learn about Laurel’s strange condition? What research did you have to do?
To keep this spoiler-free, I will just say that Laurel’s issues are something that I have also experienced back in, oh, 2003 or 2004. Although I did do additional research, much of what I wrote came from personal experience.

If one thing from your book (other than the characters) could be real, what would you choose?
Probably WARegon Trail or August Arms. Or Collier. Or “Ransom Avalanche.” Clearly, I want many, many things. Ha!

What was your revision process?
I spent six months writing the first draft of Truest, then another year polishing it (with the help of a writing group, a local editor, critique teams at a writing workshop, and beta readers). After signing with my agent, he suggested some additional revisions before we put it on submission. After I signed with Jill Davis at Katherine Tegen Books, she and I revised for nearly a year before we got it just right! Then, of course, there is copyediting … Let’s just say that I’ll believe I’m finished revising when I see it in print! 🙂

Was there a scene that really tripped you up?
Yes, the ending was tremendously hard for me to write. As the author, I had taken these characters I loved and put them through hell … and I didn’t know how to get them out it. I remember sitting on my couch, crying for West and Silas as if they were real people, real friends I was powerless to help. An incredible conversation with my dear friend Kristin (one of the women to whom the book is dedicated) led me gently to the book’s redemptive conclusion.

after truest 3Have you written anything from Silas’s POV?
Well, aren’t you in luck! I’ve actually written two important scenes from Truest from Silas’s POV, and they are posted over at truestnovel.tumblr.com. It’s a password-protected site (since it’s full of spoilers!). The password is the final word of Truest.

Will you write anything more from his POV?
I have a scene or two I’m thinking about tackling. Stay tuned!

What if I have spoiler-y questions?
Hop on over to truestnovel.tumblr.com and ask there! I think my favorite part of this entire journey is interacting with readers after they’ve read the novel, and I’d love to chat with you there!

To learn more about Truest and to pre-order your copy, check out jackieleasommers.com/truest!