Kris, what was your inspiration for writing YOU AND ME AND HIM?
I had this idea about a girl who worked in a record store, and she kept talking to me and telling me more and more about herself and her life and her struggles. And I had this other idea about a love triangle that was really about the costs of screwing up in a friendship. I mashed them together and started writing the book.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
I learned two big things as a writer. The first was that to write a book you have to get over your own perfectionism because the first draft (and really all the drafts) will be flawed. And in the case of the first draft it will probably be a hot mess. But then you keep writing and you make it better. The other thing I learned is that writing for me starts with character. I’m writing a book right now that started with the situation not the characters, and it was a real struggle until I went back and did some serious work getting to know the people in the story. The thing I learned about myself is that I can survive rejection and failure and not become a useless puddle on the floor. My book was rejected a lot before it found a home. And there were times I thought it might not happen at all. But I was surprised to realize that I didn’t take it as personally as I thought I would. There are just so many things in an editor’s decision that are out of my control. I just focused on writing the next thing while I was waiting for the book to make the rounds. That helped a lot.
What do you hope readers will take away from YOU AND ME AND HIM?
I would be really happy if readers come away from the book with the idea that people are not just one thing. You aren’t just your flaws (or the things you think are flaws) or your successes. And the people you know aren’t just one thing either. They aren’t only their sexuality, their disfunction, their sport, their race, their body. We are all a whole bunch of things, some obvious and some less apparent. So when we put ourselves or others in a box and slap a label on it, we miss out on how rich and complex each person is.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I think the scene where Maggie (my main character) was in the bathroom at the park was hardest for me. It’s a scene where Maggie is at her lowest point emotionally, and she’s trying to decide how she’s going to put one foot in front of the other. I’m actually really proud of that scene for a lot of reasons. Very late in the editing process we got some feedback from a reader that that scene felt inconsistent with Maggie’s character and that it felt like fat shaming. That’s the opposite of what I wanted or intended for Maggie, so we went back in and took a look at the scene. After being away from it for a few months I could see what the reader was saying, so I made some small revisions that still brought Maggie to the brink emotionally without being untrue to who she was. I remember thinking I felt like a real writer revising that scene because I saw the problem and knew how to fix it. It’s so much better now. The reader was right.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
Well this is a loaded question! As a writer you dream of someone saying “If you like so and so, you’ll love Kris Dinnison’s book.” I can tell you what those books are for me with the caveat that I am NOT putting myself on par with these amazing writers or their work. I would be thrilled if someone said readers of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell or Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan might also enjoy my book. I’d also be really happy if fans of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and The List by Siobhan Vivian found my book.
ABOUT THE BOOKYou and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison Hardcover HMH Books for Young Readers Released 7/7/2015
“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash
Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORKris Dinnison learned to read when she was five years old. She grew up reading books nobody else had read and listening to music nobody else had heard of and thinking she was weird, which she kind of was. She spent nearly two decades as a teacher and librarian working with students from kindergarten to graduate school. The bulk of that time she spent teaching High School English while dreaming of becoming a writer. Nowadays, when she’s not writing, she helps run her family’s retail and café businesses. She lives in Spokane, Washington with one husband, one daughter (when said daughter is not living in some foreign country or other), two cats, and a labradoodle named Charlie.
What did you think of our interview with Kris Dinnison, author of YOU AND ME AND HIM? Let us know in the comments!
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