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Interview from the blog Jennielly

1. Probably a really obvious question but I have to ask, how does it feel to have been on the NYT bestseller’s list for so long?

Frankly, wonderfully absurd, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all my readers and book champions. Goodness, the love for that book is sheer overwhelming. <3

2. You’re a champion for diversity, as anyone who follows you will know, why is diversity in the book community important to you?

Because books should reflect the world. They should be mirrors and windows and doorways. Because everyone deserves to have heroes–both fictional and in terms of creative professionals–who look like them, who share their experiences. And though I was always a voracious reader, I grew up knowing how lonely it is not to have that.

3. How important do you think it is for diversity the book community that an author with a disability such as yourself hit success?

I certainly hope my success will inspire other disabled writers!

5. What inspired you to write ‘This is where it ends’?

A very specific conversation I had with a friend of mine, on the heels of a number of high-profile shootings. Following that conversation. I realized I wanted to get a better understanding of school shootings. Of the human aspect of it. Of the stories we don’t usually hear (not the perpetrator’s, but the victims’, for example). TIWIE allowed me to explore all of those questions.

6. Before I let go is due out in January 2018, can you tell us a little about it?

BILG is a young adult thriller set during a cruel Alaskan winter. It’s the story of Corey, who goes back to her hometown of Lost Creek, to investigate her best friend’s death, and in doing so, she gets tangled up in the lies of the town and the different stories everyone tells.

7. Where did you get the inspiration for Before I Let Go from?

I wanted to write a story about winter and friendship, two of my favorite things. I wanted to write about stars and storytelling. I wanted to explore mental health and how we other people who are different. So, unlike TIWIE, there were a lot of things that inspired elements of this story. But like TIWIE, most of them came from questions I had. (But to include them here would be mildly spoilerific at best.) But all those elements came together when I discovered Corey and Kyra, and this haunting, insular town of Lost Creek, and it all fell into place from there.

8. Did you find it hard to write the next book after the success of TIWIE? Why?

I think any author’s second book is a challenge. It’s the first time you’re not purely writing for yourself anymore. It’s the first time you’re writing with an audience in mind, or a publisher, or with the knowledge of getting published. And if you’re like me and you write most of the book after your first book is released, it’s the first time you’re writing with the voices of readers in your head. All of that takes adjustment, and at times it was pretty difficult. But we got there in the end, and I’m so proud of this weird, little book.

9. What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Editing! I love it when I have all the puzzle pieces and I can work on slotting them together.

10. Finally have you got any advice for diverse writers that you’d wished you had known?

Find your community. Find fellow writers who will build you up instead of tear you down. Find fellow writers who believe in you even when you can’t. Find fellow writers who will love your stories as fiercely as you do. Because all of this is so much better with the right people at your side.