Jenn, what was your inspiration for writing THE INSIDE OF OUT?
The first germ of an idea for THE INSIDE OF OUT came about because I wanted to write something about platonic love--passionate, close, vital female friendships...and how they change when one of the pair finds a romantic partner. I brainstormed a bunch of ideas, and inevitably landed on, "What if the main character is gay and her best friend isn't?" But I nixed the idea. One, I thought, I really want to keep the story centered on platonic love, and two--am I really the right person to write a gay protagonist? Shouldn't that story come from someone who's lived that experience? I was struck by that thought. It stayed with me. I debated it for days. After all, there are plenty of well-respected LGBTQ+ books I've loved, written by straight authors. Even so, there was something about it that to me felt like I would be stealing someone else's stage--a very personal qualm. So I decided to explore that as I developed the story: a girl who loves her best friend, and, fearing she's going to lose her, winds up speaking over her and stealing the spotlight.
There are two somewhat early scenes in which Daisy is getting involved with the school's LGBTQ Alliance that were really tricky to get right--mainly because Daisy gets pretty much everything wrong. Even as the author, I was squirming at the things Daisy does...appropriating and fundamentally misunderstanding asexuality, accusing the Alliance of discrimination for not including straight members, talking over people when they clearly weren't comfortable with it. There are always moments as an author when I worry that people will confuse my beliefs and behaviors with that of my characters--but without Daisy's moments of ignorance, the meat of the story and the arc for the character would be gone. So the cringe-inducing moments have remained on the page, and I think the book is that much stronger for them.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
This book has made me think very long and hard about the kind of friend I am and the way I ally, which is much more hands-off than Daisy's bull-in-a-china-shop approach. The conversation is ongoing and always will be. Since writing this book, I wonder if I'm too passive in my support for issues that affect my close friends. I've thought a lot about how I define friendship and what responsibilities I have toward the people I love--and I've realized that I have a lot of work to do to be a better friend before I can even dream of getting the "ally" mix right.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
I did have an "aha" moment! I remember rough drafting a novel at my mom's house one day while she sculpted in her clay studio. I was laboring over a single sentence, trying to get it just right, and I looked up and saw her glomming clay onto her stick-figure form, just a chunk of clay for arms, a chunk for the upper thigh, two little chunks for feet, and I thought, "This is how I need to write." She wasn't nitpicking about a finger or a strand of hair. It wasn't time for that yet. She needed to get the clay on the form. From then on, my rough drafts have been big, crude chunks of clay, vaguely approximating the form of a story. And then, with the next draft, I make it look like a novel. And in the umpteen subsequent drafts, I make it actually worth reading. It's all about revision for me now, and I've found real joy in working that way.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently revising my third contemporary YA novel, which is about the youngest, least-talented daughter in a family of famed musical geniuses. She's just given up her dream of pursuing a career as a pianist and is trying to avoid all mention of classical music, when a boy turns up at her Manhattan brownstone for the summer. He's a staggeringly brilliant composer, a hot-shot prodigy, and despite all her best efforts not to, she finds herself falling for him. So it's a summer romance, but it's also about the Manhattan cultural elite, "racial diversity" being appropriated as a buzzword, the way sudden success can feel catastrophic, feminist individualism vs. romance, what it means to feel valued in a fame-obsessed world, and all sorts of other things. I'm really enjoying working on it! It should be out in early 2018.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Inside of Out
by Jenn Marie Thorne
When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is so ready to let her ally flag fly that even a second, way more blindsiding confession can't derail her smiling determination to fight for gay rights.
Before you can spell LGBTQIA, Daisy's leading the charge to end their school’s antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It's all for the cause.
What Daisy doesn't expect is for "the cause” to blow up—starting with Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his university paper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. #Holy #cats.
With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy’s good intentions, and Daisy's mad attraction to Adam feeling like an inconvenient truth, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Have you had a chance to read THE INSIDE OF OUT yet? Do you worry readers will confuse your characters' beliefs with your beliefs? Do you find revising to be similar to sculpting? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Anisaa, Sam, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, and Kristin