You might know Janet Gurtler from some of her other fabulous books, such as I’M NOT HER, IF I TELL, HOW I LOST YOU and WHO I KISSED, but today I’m thrilled to help celebrate the release of another great book from this author, 16 THINGS I THOUGHT WERE TRUE. It’s about a girl named Morgan whose mother gets sick and begins to panic–until she realizes that the dad she never knew isn’t so far away. With her 5000 twitter followers, her friend Amy and a boy she never gave a chance to–Morgan’s about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime.
1) 16 THINGS I THOUGHT WERE TRUE is about a girl named Morgan whose life is falling apart. When her mom dies, she sets out on a road trip to find her dad who disappeared when she was little–all the while keeping track of it on Twitter. What inspired this story?
Her mom doesn’t die actually, but she ends up in the hospital and thinks she might. The story of Morgan was inspired by my own love of the virtual world. I love Twitter and lots of other social media sites and have lots of “online friends” I’ve never met, but truly consider real friends. I imagine if I was the teen in today’s world, I would really struggle with making sure I lived a full life off line as well! Real life friends are important too.
2) I love the cover for this book. It’s a little bit different than your usual YA book covers. What did you think when you saw it?
I really love this cover a lot. I was honestly really happy when I saw the new direction the team at Sourcebooks went with. I think this cover kind of encapsulates the story of Morgan, a girl who is feeling isolated from the real world. To me it evokes the kind of feelings I think the story is about. Feeling alone and wanting to feel connections.
3) Were there any new experiences as a writer that you went through while writing 16?
Every book teaches me something different as a writer, that’s for sure. Every book comes out differently and some are just easier to write than others. This book was a little bit different for me as I had to come up with actual things that tied to the title and incorporate them into the story. The title was chosen by my publisher and me before the book was finished and I had to work with the title. It was fun and I loved the concept of 16 Things, but my challenge was to incorporate the story with social media. I wanted to tell the story of a girl who was isolated because of being overexposed on the internet, but conversely finds comfort from the anonymity of being an online presence and also needs to find the balance of real life.
4) Who was your favorite character to write in this book?
I love Amy so much. She was so fun to write, because she says and does weird things and has no filter. I LOVE people like that in real life.
5) Is Morgan’s love for Twitter reflected in you? Are there any special messages you have for your own 1, 886 followers?
I love Twitter as I love all the social media connections that tie together authors and readers. I am both and use Twitter to be both. It’s sometimes lonely being a writer, all alone in my house with no co-workers to chat with at the water cooler. Twitter is my water cooler. To my followers I say, Hey! I hope I don’t bore you with too much book promotion!
6) If you could sit down and talk with any author in the world, past or present, who would it be?
That’s a great question. I think Ned Vizzini has been on my mind, like he has for many other authors and readers of YA, lately. He was so freaking brilliant and seemed so honest and forthright that I would love to have been able to book talk with him. (and ask for advice) I have had mental health issues throughout my life as well, and I love how he nailed the characters with mental health issues as normal people who struggle. So many readers related to his honesty.
7) What was the main lesson(s) you were trying to convey through 16?
I think the biggest thing I wanted to convey in 16 Things is that connections to others really feed us, even introverted souls like myself. It’s important to have people in your life to connect with, and it’s pretty amazing when you find a special friend. And you can, but it’s a give and take relationship. It’s sometimes hard to trust, especially when you’ve been burned. Putting yourself out there means risking hurt. But, you have to give to get back. A true friend is one of life’s greatest gifts.
8) What advice do you have for any aspiring writers?
Write a lot of words. Read a lot of words. And believe in yourself and be persistent.
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Thanks so much to Janet Gurtler for doing this interview and be sure to add 16 THINGS I THOUGHT WERE TRUE to Goodreads! And be sure to enter this awesome giveaway Janet is hosting for a signed copy of 16 THINGS and a 16 THINGS I THOUGHT WERE TRUE exclusive t-shirt