BBB: When did you decide to become a writer and what was the first thing you wrote?
JG: I don't even know if it was a conscious decision. I just can't stop myself from writing; I feel less alive if I'm not working on a novel or a script of some sort. On the other hand, I definitely made a choice to pursue writing as a career, to seek publication. Even if I didn't do it professionally I'm pretty sure I'd do it for fun. The choice to get a book or play out there is pretty simple: I'm a writer, so I crave readers. I want to share the worlds that spring from my imagination.
BBB: Tell us about how you work as a writer. What inspires you? Are you a meticulous planner, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
JG: I’m kind of a reformed pantser turned plotter, though I still love being surprised. I’m big on outlines and I have structural templates I work with to be sure the plot’s moving forward at a brisk pace. My technique varies from book to book, but I do have a general idea of where I’m going at the very least. I generally write an organic first draft that is steered only by vague notions of the big picture. Later I usually write detailed outlines and revision to-do lists. It’s a delicate balance between knowing where I’m going and allowing myself to roll with inspiration when it strikes. For me that’s a lot of where the pleasure lies--in the unexpected.
BBB: What books and authors have influenced you the most?
JG: This is a hard question for me; so many writers have influenced me at different times in my life. Some of my favorites in the realm of “classics” include Nabokov, both of the Brontes (especially Charlotte) and Jane Austen. Southern writers like Ellen Gilchrist made a big impression on me as a young writer. When I found Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones Diary, Nick Hornby's High Fidelity and Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series I became fascinated with British comic geniuses. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers these days; I’m trying to understand the fundamentals of suspense. Some of my favorite writers in that world are Gillian Flynn, Donna Tartt, Laurie R. King and Megan Abbott.
BBB: What's currently in your To Be Read pile?
JG: I’m excited to check out Ophelia London’s Aimee and the Heartthrob, another Crush release. I also have a copy of Between Worlds by Alexis Alex on my bedside table. Oh, and I’m been meaning to tackle the Song of Ice and Fire series.
BBB: One of your books, Babe in Boyland was optioned by the Disney Channel! If the same happens for The Truth About Jack, which actors would you like to see play Jack and Dakota?
JG: I mentally cast all my main characters, but when I play that game, time doesn’t exist. I refuse to acknowledge someone is too old to play the role; I just cast their younger selves. In that world, Jack’s a young James Franco. Dakota’s Anna Sophia Robb; if we hurry up and make this movie, she’s still in the right approximate range (hello, producers! Come and get it!) In terms of actual actors who are age-appropriate for Jack, I think I’d go with Logan Lerman.
BBB: And finally, I live in Essex, an area of England that could give the Olympic Peninsula a run for its money in terms of average annual rainfall. Jody, what's the best thing about living where you do in California and how does it influence your writing? Go ahead, make us all jealous!
JG: First, I’m the one who’s jealous! I adore the rain! I went to grad school in Bellingham, Washington, which isn’t far from the Olympic Peninsula. It rained for 90 days straight one of the years I lived there--bliss! That said, I do love Mendocino County, my current home. It’s moody but not soggy, if you get what I mean. We have our share of rain, though not quite often enough for my taste. In the summer it’s all dry, golden grass and blue skies. I like going outside at night and thinking about what comes next in my stories. I find open air and the rhythm of the seasons inspiring.
The Truth About Jack was released on the 14th April and is available here:
Jody Gehrman is a native of Northern California, where she can be found writing, teaching, reading, or obsessing over her three cats most days. She is also the author of ten novels and numerous award-winning plays. Her Young Adult novels include The Truth About Jack, Audrey's Guide to Black Magic, Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft, Babe in Boyland, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and Triple Shot Bettys in Love. Babe in Boyland was optioned by the Disney Channel and won the International Reading Association's Teen Choice Award. Her adult novels are Bombshell, Notes from the Backseat, Tart, and Summer in the Land of Skin. Her plays have been produced in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She is a professor of English and Communication Studies at Mendocino College.
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