Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come to us like a lightning bolt, through the lyrics of a song, or in the fog of a dream. Ask any writer where their stories come from and you’ll get a myriad of answers, and in that vein I created the WHAT (What the Hell Are you Thinking?) interview. Always including in the WHAT is one random question to really dig down into the interviewees mind, and probably supply some illumination into my own as well.
Today’s guest is Lauren Gibaldi, whose debut THE NIGHT WE SAID YES will be available from Harper Teen June 16, 2015. Lauren is also a public librarian. She’s been, among other things, a magazine editor, high school English teacher, bookseller, and circus aerialist (seriously). She has a BA in Literature and Master’s in Library and Information Studies, both from Florida State University.
Ideas for our books can come from just about anywhere, and sometimes even we can’t pinpoint exactly how or why. Did you have a specific origin point for your book?
Kind of. I wanted to write about a crazy night, that was the original plan. I like the idea of one night that can change everything, and the magic and possibility a night out with friends holds when you’re in high school. It evolved and changed quite a bit, but I like to think the original feel is still there. I do remember I thought of the title while driving on the interstate with my husband…I kind of just blurted it out, and that shaped the whole “saying yes” plot.
Once the original concept existed, how did you build a plot around it?
I originally had the “then” idea – the one crazy night where the four teens say yes to every idea they have. So I thought about fun things they’d do, crazy places they’d go. But when thinking about it, I kind of wanted to see what would happen next – how the one night changes them and where they would end up one year later. So after writing the first “then” chapter, I went back and wrote a “now” chapter and it stuck.
Have you ever had the plot firmly in place, only to find it changing as the story moved from your mind to paper?
I had a lot of plotting for it because I had to make sure each “then” chapter line up with a “now” chapter. But I threw a lot of that original plotting away and kind of wrote on the fly, which made it more fun, in a way. So, locations and motives changed and I was okay with that. I also realized that the characters evolved as I went on, so I had to go back and alter voices and such.
Do story ideas come to you often, or is fresh material hard to come by?
Ideas come to me often…GOOD ideas do not. For instance, while typing this I thought: “You know what would be funny? A vampire retelling of The Great Gatsby.” You know what’s NOT a good idea? A vampire retelling of The Great Gatsby.
How do you choose which story to write next, if you’ve got more than one percolating?
I’m facing this issue right now! I start writing the first that comes to me and see if it sticks. Sometimes I just don’t like it enough to go past the first chapter. I keep it around, in case I ever want to go back to it, and then start on something else. It’s not necessarily the best idea, but I like giving each possible story a shot. The hardest thing is putting an idea aside when I’m working on a story I’m really into. I’m always worried I’ll forget it.
Sometimes when I’m cooking ground beef I get distracted by the fact that it definitely looks like a brain. Does that happen to you?
Can’t say it has. BUT NOW THAT’S ALL I’M GOING TO THINK ABOUT. A friend once told me that he feels his brain move every time he drives over a speed bump, and now that’s permanently in my head, too. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Or, wait, was that a metaphor?