Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Author Interview: Gayle Forman

I seriously cannot express how grateful and excited I am to be able to interview one of my favourite authors. I am a huge fan of her novels, If I Stay and its sequel, Where She Went (now available!!!). Gayle has so kindly answered my questions, so I hope you like the interview!

Gayle Forman is the author of 4 YA novels: You Can't Get There From Here, Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay, and Where She Went (sequel to If I Stay).


1. For me, perhaps most prominent aspect of Where She Went was Adam's voice-- it was so distinctive and authentic. Was writing in Adam's voice a breeze or a chore? Did it instantly come to you and just 'felt right', or did you have to spend a lot of time working on it?

The voice did come instantly because it was already there. I already knew Adam from If I Stay, so it was interesting to sit down and write a book from a perspective you knew and understood so well but had never written from before. And in some ways, I think I personally have more in common with Adam than Mia. Mia is so calm, so preternaturally wise. Adam is more emotional and intense. Like me. But writing Mia was a *million times* easier than writing Adam, even though, boy did I put that girl through the wringer. There was something pure about Mia's experience. Whereas Adam, he was so angry and tormented for a chunk of Where She Went. And he was mad at Mia, and writing from his POV, I was mad Mia, which was very confusing because I love Mia. So writing Adam wasn't a chore—nothing about these books has ever felt like a chore—but Where She Went was a much harder book for me to write.

2. I'm always interested in the process from when a book comes from some broad ideas until it materializes into a published novel, but don't worry, this isn't a 'publication process' question. I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering... were there were any scenes, characters, etc. that were near and dear to your heart, but just didn't make it into the final version of the book? If so, could you share one?

I wrote about 25 drafts of this book so there were tons of things that I wrote that didn't make it in, and things that got added, too. I will say that initially, Brooke Vega was much more prominent in this book but I changed that. Aside from that, there are dozens of discarded scenes and alternate endings. There was one scene of Adam almost doing a very bad thing to himself involving drugs and then thinking of Mia and stopping, which I cut for a number of reasons: rock stars and heroin=cliché. I decided I didn't want Adam to have heard Mia's voice through the years. I wanted a happier flashback in there (I replaced it with the camping flashback, which is now one of my favorites). So there are two examples for you.

3. Wow, 25 drafts?! Oh, and I adored that camping scene ;) I read in an interview that there were many tears involved with the writing of If I Stay. Were there many tissues needed for the writing of Where She Went (I know I needed some when reading it)?

I think I teared up a few times but it wasn't the sobfest that If I Stay was. If I Stay was an intensely emotional and very cathartic book for me. Where She Went was a much harder and darker book for me to write and I didn't have the same catharsis, nor was I dealing with the same intensely personal subject matter here. I probably cried different tears, tears of frustration as I tried to figure out who Adam and Mia had become.

4. Mia takes Adam on a New York Easter egg hunt, so to speak. Did you know, before you even started writing, where she would take him? Were the locations based on real places?

I never really know where a book is going to go before I start. So I didn't know. And all of the locations are based on real places, every last one. On my website ( and the Where She Went web site ( you can watch a video tour of Where She Went, in which I take you to some of the locations in the book, including the garden, the ferry, the Promenade. It's a tiny bit spoilerish, but it's pretty cool.

~Here's the awesome video:

5. I loved your article in NPR of the 5 Best YA books of 2010. What are some 2011 YA novels you can't wait to read? And are there any 2011 releases you would whole-heartedly recommend?

I seemed to have missed all the fall trade shows so I didn't really get many ARCs this year. So the only thing I know that I can recommend is I'LL BE THERE by Holly Sloan Goldberg. I've heard amazing things about IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma, which is next on my TBR pile and I'm going to be using any connection possible to get a hold of Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. And I just read an early version of Stephanie Perkins's LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, the companion book to ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which is due out this fall, and can I just say, SWOON!

~OMG LOLA! I am so jealous!
6. Lastly, with my shameless adoration for Adam, I have to ask: who are your favourite fictional YA boys?

This is a serious question. One requiring thought. *closes computer for a while. browses bookshelves. strokes chin. smiles. returns.*
Todd Sparrow in Blake Nelson's GIRL, the original rock star, even if he's kind of a jerk.
Owen in Sarah Dessen's JUST LISTEN, the angry boy who really cares.
Tiny Cooper in John Green and David Levithan's WILL GRAYSON WILL GRAYSON. He's my fictional gay husband
Joe in Jandy Nelson's THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. Those eyelashes. Bat. Bat. I'd want to do everything with him, too.
Blake in L.K. Madigan's FLASH/BURNOUT. Not the boy I'd want to date, but one of the truest, realest fictional boys, and one of my favorites.
Cameron in Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE: Oh, my brain-addled slacker, what a transcendent journey you take!
Levi in Dana Reinhardt's THE THINGS A BROTHER KNOWS: Oh, my underachieving little brother slacker, what a transcendent journey you take!
And....Edward Cullen. I am only human!

~I'm a huge Tiny Cooper fan myself, I LOVE the list!! Thank you so much for the interview!


Well, there you have it! I can't thank Gayle enough for taking time out of her hectic life to answer these questions, I really hope you enjoyed the interview. If you haven't read her novels, I highly suggest you do, they are definitely a few of my all-time favourites! But keep some tissues handy ;-)

Gayle's website / Twitter / blog / Where She Went website

Buy* Where She Went: / Amazon.CA / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble / Chapters

*I get NO profits from any of the links


  1. Brilliant interview. I am very jealous you got to have Gayle Forman on your blog. Did she say that I could have Adam? Did she?

    I love that you asked Gayle about her fictional crushes. I haven't meet a few of them so I am adding them to my reading list :)

  2. That's so awesome! I am super anxious to read these books now!! Thanks for the interview :)

  3. LOL love your tag. So awesome that you got to interview her!! It's good to know that Where she went didn't make her that emotional either, I guess we are all on the same page that way. I agree it is much darker and I can see why she would get angry at Mia. I did too at times. LOVELY interview Audrey!

  4. AMAZING interview! Those are some great questions, and it's awesome that Gayle took the time to answer so thoroughly. Love the last question. ;)

  5. Audrey, You are a master interviewer! I loved these questions. Getting more insight on a favorite author is what I live for! Seriously.

    It is wonderful to know how Adam's story developed. 25 drafts just to get it to perfect is no small feat.

    And I love the favorite fictional boys question. Gayle had some great choices that are mighty swoon worthy. Only human indeed!

    Thanks so much for sharing this. My fangirl meter just broke a record!

  6. 25 drafts!! that's insane.

    but well worth it. the book is *amazing*

  7. What an awesome author interview Audrey! I LOVED your thoughtful questions and getting to read Gayle's answers.

    I'll be making my way to a bookstore soon so I can FINALLY get my hands on a copy of Where She Went! :)

  8. Oh Audrey, I had the same reaction as you to some of Gayle's answers. 25 drafts?! And she got to read LOLA already??!

    Great interview!

  9. Nic- thank you! Haha, I think somewhere she distinctly said "oh, Audrey, Adam is *all* yours!" xD but I couldn't include that part because ya'll would get jealous! :P

    Zoe- YAY!! Hope you like!

    Aly- thanks :) And I agree, I was frustrated (in a loving way) at times too.

    Eden- thank you so much! =)

    Missie- awww shucks, I'm so not :P And thank you! OOoh, I love the phrase 'fangirl meter'! Mine was going crazy too :P

    Nomes- I know! Crazyyy, but what can I say, the final product rocked my socks off :)

    Midnight Bloom- thank you! And YAY I really really really hope you like it! :)

    Steph- I know, eh?! Thank you! :)

  10. whoohoo! i'm your 1000th follower! =]

  11. Oh man Ive yet to read Where She Went. (I skipped some parts of the review because of spoilers, hope that's okay!) But I love this interview! Especially THE LIST!!! I'm happy I finally know some of the guys there, haha. Thanks Gayle for stopping by here and answering questions for us all! :)

  12. This is really nice :D Really interesting. Makes me want to read it, which I probably will. I need a reading list anyway.

    25 drafts... Wow. Sounds... tempting... x3

  13. Wow! This is a really great interview. Kudos to you for keeping the questions fresh.


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