Monday, June 23, 2014

Interview with Jennifer Mathieu, Author of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE

Hi everyone! Today Jennifer Mathieu graciously answers some questions about her debut novel, The Truth About Alice, and her writing experience. Keep reading to know what inspired Jennifer to write TTAL, the characters she created, and the most moving feedback she's received since her book came out on June 3rd! 

The Truth About Alice
What influenced you to write such a sensitive story?

I wanted to write a story set in a small town, and I wanted to use multiple points of view. I also wanted to focus on being an outsider in a small town, and I know that one way our culture makes girls feel like they don't belong is by judging their bodies or sexual behavior. One of the biggest influences for the story came from a Seventeen magazine article I read back in the early 90s when I was in high school. It was about a high school girl who was the victim of horrible graffiti about her in one of the bathroom stalls of her high school. The school refused to clean the stall, and she eventually sued the school. I remember thinking how isolated and embarrassed she must have felt. It broke my heart and years later became a seed for The Truth About Alice.

Describe Alice, Brandon, Josh, Elaine, Kelsie, Kurt in one word each.

Great question! 
Alice - Survivor 
Brandon - Entitled 
Josh - Repressed 
Elaine - Queen 
Kelsie - Damaged 
Kurt - Compassionate

What’s more important: characters or plot?

I think both are critical to a good story, but I enjoy character-driven stories. I have a much easier time with characters than plot. I always dream up the people first and then start deciding what I want to do with them. I'm in awe of writers who have an easy time with plot ideas and can weave stories together so quickly. For me, characters come alive in my head and I start thinking of them as real people sometimes!

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? 

With the exception of the Seventeen article - which was inspiration more than anything - this was all purely out of my imagination. None of the characters are based on real people. However, my own memories of high school and my observations as a high school teacher have helped me (I hope!) create realistic teenage dialogue and characters who seem like they could be found in any high school.

Have you ever had a writer's block?

Oh my, YES! It happens all the time. Sometimes if it happens I just fool around with a sentence or two or try to write one small scene that will get me out of it. I don't worry too much about writer's block. I've been writing for so long now that I know it's not a permanent condition! My biggest advice to anyone experiencing writer's block is to write down SOMETHING, even if it's just a list of favorite words. Something to stimulate the mind and get the fingers moving on the keyboard. Eventually it will go away, I promise.

Eleanor & ParkLove Letters to the Dead

What is one book or series you wished you've written?

Well, I don't really wish I'd written them because I had such a wonderful experience reading them, but Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor&Park blew me away as did Ava Dellaira's Love Letters to the Dead. Both of those books inspired me as a writer for sure.

Hardest scene you have ever written.

Without giving too much away, there is a very critical scene at the end of The Truth About Alice involving Brandon and Josh that reveals some of the truth about what really happened. I think I rewrote that scene ten times or more. There was a lot I wanted to get across and a lot I wanted to get just right. There have been other scenes that have been very hard to write emotionally, but this scene was especially tricky - both in getting the tone right and describing the actions of the characters appropriately.

Jennifer Mathieu
So far, what is the most motivating and touching feedback you've received from readers since The Truth About Alice came out?

I have received a lot of touching feedback, but I received one email from a student I taught several years ago who read the book. It was quite a long email in which she analyzed each of the characters and gave me her thoughts as a reader. I was touched on two levels - one, that she would get so into my book that she would want to think about the characters and the plot so much and two, that she thanked me for being an English teacher who really motivated her to love books and reading. So that was a two in one! :-) I teared up reading it!

Thank you so much for visiting Teen Readers' Diary, Jennifer! 

Hexed (Hexed, #1)
Hardcover: 199 pages
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

You can purchase The Truth About Alice at the following Retailers:

Author Bio
I'm an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. My debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, will be out in the spring of 2014.

My favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980's sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. I can basically quote every episode.

I live with my husband, son, one rescue dog, one fat cat, and another cat that is even fatter than the fat cat.

When it comes to what I read, I love realistic young adult fiction (duh), creative nonfiction, super scandalous tell-all memoirs and unauthorized biographies, and basically anything that hooks me on the first page.
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  1. Great interview. I want to read the Truth about Alice. <3

  2. Thanks for the really nice interview, it's interesting to learn more about the book as I heard great things about it.

    1. Thanks! We've enjoy having Jennifer in our blog also :)

  3. Oh my goodness! I loved The Truth About Alice! Loved the interview. :)

    Kristen @ Pretty Little Pages

  4. Oh i love this interview and you've just made me want to love up The Truth About Alice on my TBR pile since i've got it somewhere there! :)

    1. Thanks! That's what we want you to do, so get that book and read it now ;)

  5. Interesting interview. I think we all can all somewhat relate to this book. Can't wait to read. You don't see a lot of multiple pov books!

  6. Love letters to the dead is actually sitting on my shelf right now, I borrowed it from the library. I've heard plenty good things about it.

    Can't wait to read The Truth About Alice.

  7. I am so excited to read tis book for some reason even though its not my typical choice


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