What do you think is the best thing about being a novelist?
The freedom to exist in worlds other than your own, probably, and to commune with imaginary characters, without everyone accusing you of being insane.
Where is your favorite place to write? To read?
I love to write at my kitchen table, about two steps away from the coffee machine; I also do great work at my father’s house on the North Fork of Long Island. It’s just very peaceful there.
My favorite place to read is either in bed or at a nice restaurant, by myself. I love to treat myself to a nice meal and a fabulous book and eat on my own. It’s heaven.
Your main character relives one day in her life; seven times. Once, she mentioned her idea of a perfect day. What would be yours?
There are a few days in my life that I wouldn’t mind reliving, actually. Anyperfect day for me would have to involve sunshine, and warmth; a long run, some good writing, a great meal, and all of my friends and family. Actually, a perfect day for me wouldn’t look that different from my regular days…I guess I’m blessed!
Did you know right away, or had an idea, how you were going to end the story? Or did it come to you as you were in the process of writing?
I did know how it was going to end, yes. Actually, when I wrote Before I Fall I wrote the prologue and the epilogue first; the rest of the narrative was really an attempt to bridge those bookmarking sections.
If you were to hang out with the girls -- Samantha, Lindsay, Ally or Elody -- who do you think you would have the most fun with?
Elody is fun, and really a sweetheart deep down, I think. But of course, Lindsay would be the wildest to hang out with—she’s the kind of girl who just lives bigger than everybody else, if that makes sense. And I do like that kind of expansiveness in people.
Do you have any advice for writers wanting to get published?
Take the time to submit well and carefully to agents. A lot of writers spend all this time working on a novel, and then they just send it out to whomever with these terrible cover letters full of typos and stuff. You should put almost as much effort into presenting the book to agents and publishers as you do into writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
What is the best advice about writing that you have received? About life in general?
Hands-down, the best piece of writing advice I have ever received is to write every day.
As for life advice…I’ve gotten so much amazing advice from people over the years. I try to learn as much as I can from the people I come into contact with. My sister once told me not to let other people frighten me out of doing things that seemed challenging. I think that’s great advice. People will always try and define what is “reasonable” for you to do, or expect, or desire, but to a certain extent you have to live on your own terms.
What is the best thing a reader has ever said to you about your novel?
A reader told me that my book made her appreciate the small things in life. I get that a decent amount, actually, and it never ceases to amaze me, and make me so happy. Incidentally, what you told me, Jillian—that my book inspired you to be a better person—ranks up there! :)
You are to be stranded on a deserted island with five companions. If you could choose five fictional characters to accompany you, who would they be and why?
Well, if I’m going to be stranded on a deserted island, I’m going to pick Robinson Crusoe, since he seems handy. I’d like Elizabeth Bennett to be there, as she strikes me as a lively companion, and Matilda, because the power of telekinesis could come in handy. I would also pick Bruce Wayne/Batman, who isn’t a fictional character per se, but with whom I would actively like to be stranded on a deserted island. Seriously, swoon. Also Marmee, from the Little Women, as I would no doubt be freaking out and she is, like, the most comforting character ever written into fiction.
Do you have any messages to your readers and fans?
Be nice to each other! And keep reading, of course. :)