Hi, everyone! Today is a great day! I have for you, an interview with the author of The Truth About Jack: Jody Gehrman! Make sure you download a copy today (Amazon)! I received an ARC of the book from the publisher via Netgalley and you can read my full review here. I was incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to interview her and give you a little more detail about her novel and even give you a couple of tips as a writer from Jody herself!
The Truth About Jack by Jody Gehrman
Can the write guy be the right guy?
Dakota McCloud has just been accepted into a prestigious art school. Soon she’ll leave behind the artists’ colony where she grew up-hippie dad, tofu since birth, yurt-and join her boyfriend and best friend on the East Coast. It was the plan…until Dakota finds out her boyfriend and best friend hooked up behind her back.
Hurt and viciously betrayed, Dakota pours out her heart on a piece of paper, places it in a bottle, and hurls it into the ocean. But it doesn’t quite go where she expects…Jack Sauvage finds the bottle washed up on the shore and responds to Dakota’s letter. Except what if his straight-laced life doesn’t jive with the free-spirited girl he’s only seen from afar? As Jack creates a persona he believes she’ll love, they slowly fall for each other with each new letter. Now Jack is trying to find a way to make this delicate, on-paper romance happen in real life…without revealing his deception.
Interview with the Author:
1. Geyserville, Sebastopol, and Luna Cove are very specific places in California. Did growing up in California influence the setting that you chose for the novel? They were described in beautiful detail and I could picture the towns in my head. Are you familiar with the location or did you visit the towns and research them?
2. Where did the idea forThe Truth About Jack come from?
I’m going to answer questions one and two together, because they’re kind of related. I grew up in Healdsburg, a town that’s close to both Geyserville and Sebastopol. For years, I dated a guy who lived in a yurt much like Dakota’s on a piece of land very much like the artist colony Luna Cove.
A couple years ago I was driving around that area, remembering how I used to drive to the beach when I was Dakota’s age and spend hours there just thinking and dreaming. The beach I called Luna Cove in the book is actually called Goat Rock in real life, and it was always my go-to place for inspiration. My mom and I spent a lot of time there when I was a kid and as I got older it just became kind of a spiritual haven for me.
I realized I wanted to tell a story that would be a love letter to that place and time in my life, one that could capture the intensity and drama of first love but also the beauty of that landscape.
3. One of my favorite things aboutThe Truth About Jackis the dual points of view. Why did you decide to write this story with both Dakota’s and Jack’s point of view?
Jack is my first attempt at a male point of view. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of taking on a male voice, but when the character of Jack came to me, I felt like I could get inside his head without too much struggle. The mistaken identity/Cyrano type storyline I had in mind lent itself to seeing both sides of the story. I’m always looking for new challenges to keep my writing life fresh, and this gave me a way to try something I’d never attempted before.
4. Dakota and Jack were well-written characters and their points of view were fun to read. Secondary characters like Attila, Joaquin, and Anya were fantastic and very likable. Were any of the characters or the situations that they found themselves in inspired by real life characters and situations?
Attila is based loosely on a guy my husband worked with years ago. He was a very eccentric carpenter from Romania; the stories my husband told me about him lodged somewhere in my imagination, I guess. Anya is based (again, very loosely) on a woman I remember idolizing at our local health food store when I was growing up–the free spirit adult you see sometimes when you’re a kid and think, “Oh, maybe being a grown-up isn’t all that bad.”
Another kernel of truth: I actually did write a message and put it in a bottle once. When I was in the third grade, my family moved from California to Vancouver Island, British Columbia for a year. My best friend up there, Kristen and I decided to write a letter and launch it in a bottle. A few weeks later, we’d pretty much forgotten about it. Out of the blue we got a massive envelope. Inside were like thirty letters, all written from third graders. A teacher from one of the nearby islands found it and had her entire class write to us.
6. What was your favorite part of writingThe Truth About Jack?
Creating Luna Cove, the artist colony where Dakota lives, was really fun. As I said, it was based on a real place, one that was really important to me for years. I loved blending fantasy with reality in that setting. It was kind of like revisiting a favorite place from my past and getting to add lots of new elements from my imagination to make it even more magical.
7. You’ve written a number of novels for both adults and young adults, as well as several plays. What advice do you have for those who aspire to be a writer?
Since I teach writing, I’ve thought about this a lot. Here are my top three tips:
One: Write on a regular schedule. It shouldn’t be a chore, but it’s a skill like any other and it takes practice to get good.
Two: Surround yourself with people who support your writing dreams.
Three: Keep in mind that external validation (getting published, getting praise) can only take you so far. You have to love the process itself, savor it every day. That’s what keeps writers coming back.
I hope enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Make sure to get your copy of The Truth About Jack and let me know what you think!
About Jody Gehrman:
Jody Gehrman is a native of Northern California, where she can be found writing, teaching, reading, or obsessing over her three cats most days. She is also the author of ten novels and numerous award-winning plays. Her Young Adult novels include The Truth About Jack, Audrey’s Guide to Black Magic, Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft, Babe in Boyland, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and Triple Shot Bettys in Love. Babe in Boyland was optioned by the Disney Channel and won the International Reading Association’s Teen Choice Award. Her adult novels are Bombshell, Notes from the Backseat, Tart, and Summer in the Land of Skin. Her plays have been produced in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She is a professor of English and Communication Studies at Mendocino College.