HERE'S THE SCOOP ON THE BOOK: Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.
AND NOW FOR THE INTERVIEW:
Please tell us a little about your everyday life.
Please tell us a little about your everyday life.
Like most writers I know, I lead a double life. I have this wild and crazy family, with a lot of characters and personalities in it—and then I write about other families with lots of characters and personalities. My children tend to get up at the crack of dawn, despite years of bribery to talk them out of this habit. So by the time the youngest ones climb onto the school bus, I feel as though I’ve already lived half the day. I race home with the dog (literally run) and to my computer, with a brief pause for coffee. Then I do my best to stay right there until the first school bus pulls back up in front of the house. Except for when I need to block out a scene, or talk one out aloud. When I get stuck, I drive to the beach and walk, pausing to scribble down ideas. Switching gears from whatever is happening in the story to the real world is always hard. I need to come up with some ritual for this—ruby slippers or the like. When everyone is home it’s wall to wall dinner and homework and listening and talking until about nine p.m. when the house gets still once again. I try to get in another hour or so of work then, unless I’d rather just take a bubble bath, hang out with my husband or read.
What I Thought Was True is the follow up to the very popular My Life Next Door. Please tell us a bit about how the two books are connected.
They aren’t actually very connected. WITWT does take place in the same area, and there are a few very small sightings of characters from MLND, but the cast of characters is different but, I hope, compelling in their own way. My third book to be published, The Boy Most Likely To IS going to be a companion book to My Life Next Door, although with a different hero and heroine.
Besides your main character, who is your favorite character in this book and why?
The hero, definitely. Much of the book is about who you are as opposed to who people think you are. Cass looks like the classic cool calm and collected, blond beautiful rich boy. Like someone who had everything fall into his lap. But he’s nothing like that at all. And from the start, he sees the heroine for who she is and cares about THAT girl, not her ‘reputation’ or even what she believes about her self. He knows her. I found that really romantic.
Do you have a favorite scene in this book?
Oh yes. There’s a scene where Gwen and Cass, the heroine and hero, find themselves caught in a sudden thunderstorm and take refuge in a boathouse on the beach. It’s pouring, there are no lights, they are both soaking wet…and there’s an awful lot of unspoken words and unfinished business between them, a lot of conflicting emotion. Hardest scene in the book to write…and now my favorite.
Did you always know how this book would end, or did it change as you wrote it?
I knew the big brushstrokes of the ending, but the central drama of the story changed, so I rewrote the final scenes about fifteen times.
Can you tell us a little about your path to publication?
It really does feel as though I followed the yellow brick road. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was five, but wound up becoming (and loving being) an editor for years. When we started having kids, I left my job and we moved from NYC to coastal Massachusetts. Then, a few years ago, I suddenly woke up and HAD to write a book. So I did—carrying the manuscript everywhere, writing on the beach and at playgrounds and school parking lots. I found an agent willing to look at what I turned out, and wrote two manuscripts that didn’t work. Then My Life Next Door, which was totally different than those two but somehow clicked with the agent, then with my publisher, Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. I am honestly still pinching myself that that happened…let alone that I’ve been able to keep writing since then. I don’t think I’ll get over the shock of having a lifelong dream come true, ever.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the third book, THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO, right now (currently pre-dawn at a hotel in Boston where the kids and I went for vacation). This book means a lot to me—a departure in a lot of ways (dual point of view, returning to a previous world) and I worry a lot about “getting it right”…but luckily, that’s what the main characters struggle with, too. So we’re all in this together. I have a fourth book to do after that, which currently exists mostly in my imagination and in notes in four of those black and white composition notebooks you use in school. Every once in a while, I take a break from Tim and scribble down notes about Wilder (the hero of book four).
Do you have any marketing advice for other writers?
Marketing is like math for me…I know it’s incredibly important, but my brain struggles to process how to DO it. The only advice I have is to be grateful to anyone who offers to talk about your book, to blog about it or review it. Readers and bloggers and fellow writers are what it’s all about in the end.
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