Sunday, November 13, 2016

0 Kristin Elizabeth Clark, author of JESS, CHUNK, AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY, on remembering to play

We're delighted to have Kristin Elizabeth Clark here to chat about her latest novel JESS, CHUNK, AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY.

Kristin, what was your inspiration for writing JESS, CHUNK, AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY?

My inspiration for the book came from a road trip I took with my daughter in the early stages of her transition. We talked our way across the US about a lot of things. A conversation about bathrooms and safety and passing privilege really stuck with me. Well after the fact, something clicked and I wrote a scene that takes place near the middle of the book.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I’ve had readers tell me that the road trip aspect of the book, as well as the initial interactions between Jess and Chuck reminded them of John Green’s “An Abundance of Katherines”, which if you like John Green (as I do) is pretty flattering.

How long did you work on JESS, CHUNK, AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY?

That’s difficult to answer, because I had a couple of false starts, some depression, writer’s block malaise, and a garden-variety family crisis to deal with - all while I was supposed to be working on it. The time frame has become fuzzy to me.

Jess and Chunk was the second book of a contract, and it was officially due in to my publisher just before FREAKBOY came out. That obviously didn’t happen. My editor (the AhMayzing Joy Peskin) was really great about it, insisting that I take the time I needed to write the next manuscript. There was a lot of upheaval in my life right around then, making it hard to focus but eventually I did. I outlined a plot and wrote a couple of chapters for a new project. The trouble is, I’m more of a pantser than a plotter and outlining in detail killed my enthusiasm for the story. I slunk back to Joy and told her I just couldn’t do it. I sent her a few pages of a new story, which she okayed and then I became creatively blocked. Before it happened to me, I had no idea how devastating a block could be. I think my identity had become wrapped up in being a writer and then when I couldn’t, I felt like such a loser. At any rate, I missed deadline after deadline and was super (and scarily) depressed. In fact it’s hard to suss out exactly if depression caused a block or if it was the result of one.

Joy must have been a little concerned that she kept having to push back pub dates; after all, she had a schedule to keep. She was great, though, about giving me time and space, and reassuring me that my mental health was the most important thing. Finally, three things happened. 1.) After weeks and weeks of waking up in the morning and immediately trying to go back to sleep because unconsciousness had become my preferred state, I sought professional help. 2.) I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the neuroscience of creativity in an attempt to discover ways to trick my mind back into creating. Finally, I settled on a program of exercise, Qi Gong meditation, and playtime to kick off my day - and it worked 3.) I had a conversation with my daughter during which we reminisced about driving through Nebraska of all places. Something clicked, and I had the story I wanted to tell. (I always feel like I have to point out that while my daughter has inspired two of my books, they ARE works of fiction.)

All of this is to say I worked on JESS, CHUNK, AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY anywhere between one to two and a half years.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Remember to play. It’s crucial to your creativity.


Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity
by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 11/8/2016

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she's a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad. So she's driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom's ex-best friend. It's not like Jess wasn't invited; she was. She just never told anyone she was coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn't making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe--nicknamed Chunk--is joining her.

Along the way, Jess and Chunk learn a few things about themselves--and each other--which call their feelings about their relationship into question.

Purchase Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity at Amazon
Purchase Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity at IndieBound
View Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity on Goodreads


6894995Kristin Elizabeth Clark lives and writes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She hikes with her dog and reads to her cats… but she’s not one of THOSE people. Really.

Her young adult debut, Freakboy, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on October 22nd, 2013.


Have you had a chance to read JESS, CHUNK, AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY yet? Have you had to work your way out of depression in order to write? Do you find play crucial to your creativity? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Anisaa, Sam, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, and Kristin

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