Thursday, October 23, 2014

{Giveaway+Interview} Lies We Tell Ourselves: Robin Talley

Rating: 92%
Series: None
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Page Count: 368
Format: Physical ARC
Source: HarlequinTeen via My Heart Hearts Books

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Disclaimer: I received this book from HarlequinTeen via My Heart Hearts Books in exchange for an honest review.

*My guest post on My Heart Hearts Books hasn't been published yet, but when it is, the image above will have a link leading to the review*

Interview With Robin Talley

1. The LGBTQ genre has had quite a breakout in 2014 in terms of how many books have been released dealing with these issues and how they are becoming more widely accepted. Each author has their own story of why they write LGBTQ fiction, maybe a family member, close, friend, or even themselves has fallen in the LGBTQ spectrum. Why did you start writing in this genre and when did you become interested in it?

In every book or short story I’ve written so far, my protagonists have always been LGBTQ. Partly that stems from my own life experience, since I’m gay, but it also stems from what I see as a need for greater representation for LGBTQ characters in fiction, especially young adult fiction. Malinda Lo’s statistics show that despite recent gains, this representation is still far below where it should be in YA. 

Also, for the most part, my brain tends to generate stories that focus on LGBTQ characters. So it all works out nicely!

2. Because some people aren’t always accepting of LGBTQ people and many books in this genre have been banned, was there ever a time when you were scared to put Lies We Tell Ourselves out in the world because of this added factor of stress? Instead of just being afraid if people would like/not like your book, was there ever a fear that you would be ostracized because of it or that your book would even be banned in some conservative communities?

This actually hasn’t been something I’ve worried about. Which is good, because there are plenty of other things for a debut author to stress over! :)

3. What inspired you to write this story and come up with such an outrageous premise for this time period? An African American and white person talking to each other civilly, let alone falling in love, let alone the situation being between a GIRL and ANOTHER girl. Did you ever think of your readers would find this unrealistic, or did it just add to the story?

From the moment I first started thinking about the story for Lies We Tell Ourselves, I knew I wanted to explore the question of not just how someone would deal with living through a horrible period in history, but also how it would feel to be living with that and to be dealing with something a slice of the population has always dealt with for all of history, too: having a sexual orientation that doesn’t match the majority’s. 

For millennia, people have been forming across traditional societal lines ― race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, background, etc. Sometimes those connections are friendships, sometimes they’re romantic, sometimes they’re something else entirely. 

So I don’t think it’s outrageous for two people like Sarah and Linda to form a connection in 1959, despite the boundaries that separate them. Nor do I think it’s unrealistic that they’re both interested in girls. I think there’s a tendency to view the idea of “LGBTQ issues” as a new thing, because only in the past couple of decades have openly queer people have been discussed much in mainstream media. But there have been queer people for as long as there have been, well, people. There were just as many queer people in 1959 as there are in 2014. There just weren’t as many openly queer people.

4. While writing Lies We Tell Ourselves, was there ever a time that you felt a scene was hard to write because of the amount of torment you had to put your characters through, because of research that needed to be done surrounding the circumstances, or to get into an individual character’s head?

All of the above! Lies We Tell Ourselves was by far the most difficult story I’ve ever written for all of those reasons and more. The most challenging part of the writing process was getting into Linda’s head. Linda has held a set of beliefs for her entire life that is abhorrent and that also completely defies logic, so it took a huge amount of intellectual twisting and reaching to try to understand where she was coming from well enough to write from her point of view. 

5. I know that I greatly appreciated the fact that Lies We Tell Ourselves was written in two points of view and then the added third at the end. What was your reasoning for this? Why not write the story from just one point of view? And what made you decide to divide the points of views into parts versus every other chapter?

I tried writing Lies We Tell Ourselves in many different ways. I wrote a draft just from Sarah’s point of view, and I wrote the beginning of a draft in alternating chapters. Neither of those worked at all. With just Sarah’s point of view, there wasn’t enough forward momentum to drive the story and provoke Sarah to change. Alternating chapters caused the opposite problem ― it broke up the momentum of the first day of school that makes up most of the first part of the novel, where the story really belongs to Sarah alone. So I tried splitting the difference with an alternating act structure instead. 

6. Lies We Tell Ourselves seems like the type of story that you would need to know from beginning to end, and because NaNoWriMo fever is in the air, I am dying to know this. Are you a pantser or a plotter?  

I’m a plotter, but I didn’t actually know the story of Lies We Tell Ourselves from beginning to end when I first started writing it. That’s usually how it goes for me when I’m working on a new project. I always make an outline before I start writing, but usually the outline either doesn’t have an ending at all or I realize halfway through the draft that the ending I’d originally envisioned won’t work at all. So although I depend on my outlining process to get me from point A to point B, I usually have to rework my original conception to figure out how I’m eventually getting to point Z. 

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