It is 2013! This means I can now officially say that my book is coming out Next Year! Woo hoo!
What is the working title of your book?
Lies We Tell Ourselves.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a 17-year-old black girl is chosen to integrate an all-white high school in 1959, she endures unspeakable harassment ― and falls for a racist white girl at her new school. (Read more here!)
Who is your publisher?
When will the book be out?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I first got the idea for the basic framework for Lies We Tell Ourselves during a road trip with my parents. We were talking about their school days back in the 1950s and 60s, and somehow the conversation turned to their memories about school desegregation. They’d both been in all-white Virginia high schools during integration. They’d both seen first-hand the torment that the few black students in their schools were subjected to. I did more reading about the desegregation process, and learned just how well-organized opposition to the Supreme Court’s 1955 Brown v. Board decision had been throughout the South. I also learned that in city of Norfolk, Virginia, 10,000 students missed out on half a year of their educations in 1958 ― because the Governor closed down the white schools rather than let 17 black students into their classrooms. Once I heard the story of those 17 astonishingly brave kids (and you should read the story of The Norfolk 17 too), I knew I had to write a novel about the period.
What genre does your book fall under?
YA realistic historical.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m terrible at this, because I am mostly unfamiliar with the current crop of teen actors. So I will pick actors of varying ages and let’s just pretend they’re way younger than they actually are, OK? OK. I’d pick Kerry Washington to play Sarah, a red-haired version of Dianna Agron to play Linda, Jennifer Hudson to play Ruth, and Terrence Howard to play Ennis.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well, the first draft had a lot of false starts. I threw out very large numbers of words and started over again several times as I found the characters’ voices. Then I threw out most of what was left after that and rewrote it with a different POV and a mostly different plot. So, I spent 3 months on my first draft, and then I threw it out.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well… Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys? That book is amazing, so I feel awkward comparing my own to it, but there aren’t very many other mid-twentieth-century realistic historical YAs with no paranormal elements out there.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The amazingly brave kids who sacrificed their own childhoods to integrate schools across the South in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Did I mention the lesbian romance?