Published by Feiwel & Friends
Published on October 4th 2016
Genres: LGBTQ, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
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Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?
Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.
Which do you find the hardest to write, the first or the last line of your novel? Why?
LAST LINES, ALWAYS. I feel so much pressure to exit on the right note, and to leave readers with a sense of closure; I just get so restless when I finish a book and the final scene sort of just cuts off in the middle. But orchestrating an ending that really feels like an ending can be SUCH a pain in the butt. I guess, to me, it always seems like there are a hundred perfect ways to start a novel—any novel—and only a handful of elegant ways to conclude it.
Which comes first in your writing process, the title, or the content of you story? (Do you always know what your book’s title is going to be?)
Interestingly, my debut novel is the first story I’ve ever written where the content came before the title; every other time I’ve tackled a major writing project, I’ve had the title firmly in mind before getting started. But as I brainstormed this manuscript, nothing seemed to fit the mood of what I was creating; it was ultimately submitted with a working title, and after my publisher picked it up, my editor asked me to supply some alternate possibilities. Of those, LAST SEEN LEAVING was the one that stood out the most—and, I have to say, I’m really thrilled that it did!
Let’s talk character names. How do you go about selecting names for characters in your book? Do the names you pick have any significance to you, or do you ever feel inspired by a name?
I actually have a spreadsheet on my laptop that is filled with potential character names. Any time I come across one I like, I add it to the file. Sometimes characters will identify themselves to me without my having to think much about it, but sometimes I get this weird mental block—like, suddenly I’ll only be able to think of names that are just totally all wrong. So I’ll go down the list and select names that work well together and capture the personalities I’m putting together in my mind.
How do you plot your books, do you write it down on paper/index cards/etc, or do you write on the fly? Do you ever find that your plot changes as you write, or does it stay pretty close to how you planned it?
I always start with a rough concept, then flesh it out until I’m sure it’s got real potential, and then, before I write a single word, I put together a full outline. An outline for me can be anywhere from five pages to twenty, and it will cover all the major beats, twists, and revelations. I’ve pantsed it a few times in the past, with absurdly disastrous results (my very first manuscript, which I wrote on the fly, clocked in at 160,000 words!) and so I always work from a blueprint now. I do allow myself some wiggle room, however—I deviated from LAST SEEN LEAVING’s outline a few times when unexpected avenues opened up and I absolutely had to explore them—but I try not to go haring off too much, because otherwise I might inadvertently paint myself into a narrative corner. (Try writing a mystery where you accidentally discover, 70k words in, that you’ve given all the suspects an airtight alibi for the crime, because you’d lost track of who was where, when.)
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
PEANUT BUTTER. I mean, frankly, it is basically all I eat now.
What is your favorite movie?
This is so hard to pick, but I’m going to go with Casablanca. It’s one of very few movies that really lives up to its reputation.
What are the last 3 books you enjoyed reading?
THIS ADVENTURE ENDS, by Emma Mills
NEMESIS, by Anna Banks
THE LOVELY RECKLESS, by Kami Garcia
Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what is it?
I don’t know if it’s a talent, per se, but both of thumbs are double-jointed!
This or That?
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset—I am SO not a morning person. If I’m seeing the sunrise, it’s either because I stayed up too late, or because I have a disgustingly early flight to catch. In either case, I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT.
Coffee or Tea?
This one’s tough. I really like tea, but I don’t want to live in a world without coffee. I lived in Finland (the world’s number one coffee consuming nation!) for a few a years, and the coffee there was out of this world.
Hot or Cold?
COLD. You can always put on another sweater, but a person can only remove so many clothes before they’re just naked and sweating and getting arrested. Besides! Cold weather means cozy fireplaces and hot toddies and things!
PC or Mac?
Mac. I used to use PCs, but switched over the Macs maybe eight years ago? Haven’t looked back since.
By Land, or by sea?
BY LAND. I took a LOT of boat trips when I lived in Finland, and I don’t mind telling you that I discovered “stormy weather at sea” happens to be a thing that I Simply Do Not Care For At All.
Half-empty or Half-full?
Doesn’t matter. Either way, I’m ordering another round.
Autumn or Spring?
Tough call. Spring was always my favorite season growing up, but I’ve actually started to develop some really gross allergies, so I guess I’ll go with autumn now!
Summer or Winter?
Winter. (See: Hot vs Cold) Summer is a really great idea that somebody had, but I’m just not feeling it. Like, hooray, it’s a millionty degrees out and I can’t leave the house without erupting into flames, but I can’t stay IN the house, either, because it costs a millionty dollars to run the A/C all day long. I WILL TAKE A PASS, THANKS.
E-book or Print Book? (Preferred reading)
I definitely prefer printed books, but I got really into e-books while living abroad. (There was no way I was getting my whole library across the Atlantic.) E-readers are SO convenient, and I still snatch up digital books when there’s a sale on, but there’s just nothing quite like having a physical book in your hands.
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9/26: YA Bibliophile – Review
10/3: No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
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