I received the following questions via Tumblr, and I wanted to answer them here because I receive a variation of these a lot and don’t think I’ve written a public response before.
Thanks for the questions, klaudiagarcia!
Q: What inspired you to write TBSOL?
The idea came to me one night, and never left me. Back then, I was still struggling with being gay. I hadn’t been out for very long, and even though I was “out and proud” at school, I was still battling a lot of insecurities. On the day my parents dropped me off at college, we had a huge fight about me being gay – they had just found out a few weeks prior. For many years, I didn’t talk to them about my personal life, or anything that really mattered to me. It was really hard for me to be happy with myself when I felt like such a huge disappointment.
So, I wrote to make myself feel better. I wrote TBSOL because I wanted to believe in love. I wanted to tell myself a story that would make me happy, because deep down I wasn’t. It took me a long time to work through all of that.
Q: Who’s your favorite character?
I had to go make myself another cup of coffee before answering this because I honestly didn’t know what to write.
I think if you ask me who my favorite character is in a TV show or a movie or someone else’s book, that’s far easier to answer. I think we’re drawn to characters who speak to some part of who we are or want to become. But it’s hard to pick and choose from among my own characters because they’re figments of my imagination.
I’ll say this, though: Leigh is the most fun to write dialogue for.
Q: Was there something that you wanted to convey with the story?
I think what I wanted to convey with the first version was that it’s okay to be gay, because that’s what I most wanted to tell myself. I wanted to write a happy story, where two girls fall in love and neither one of them dies at the end. That was really the full extent of my goal at the time.
When I went back to finish TBSOL v2, I was a much different person that I’d been when I’d started it. I didn’t have the same insecurities about being gay. I had found the girl of my dreams. My relationship with my parents was in a much better place. In other words, I was happy and I was at peace. And so, my motivation behind writing was no longer about me, or making myself feel better. It became about other people, and trying to make a difference with my writing.
I don’t want anyone to ever feel bad about who they are, and that’s a message that’s really important to me.
You are not alone is what I most want to convey with anything I ever write. But I’ll settle for hoping that, at the very least, I made someone smile.