As part of this whole interviewing a series of AWESOME authors thing, we are continuing with the one and only HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK. (author of My Life Next Door) I mean, are we lucky or what? Let’s get this thing goin!…
So, Huntley, let me ask, what was your inspiration for My Life Next Door?
I’ve always been a people-watcher, and I guess always a story-teller too. My father and I used to play a game when we were waiting in the car for my mom outside various department stores (she loved to shop—a gene that missed me completely), imagining the life-stories or relationships of people we saw walking by or leaving the store. Some images stick in your head, and one that stayed in mine was a couple I saw walking on Boston Common. She was blond and pretty, he kept ducking his head down to listen more closely to what she was saying. They looked happy to be together, like friends as well as boyfriend and girlfriend. When I started to write a book about a girl who watched and wondered about other lives than her own, I wanted to be sure she found a boy who “got” that, who watched and wondered back. And I’ve always rewritten, if only in my head, stories that end sadly. So there’s a little Romeo and Juliet in there, too.
Did the story turn out how you originally had it plotted inside your head?
I can’t think of any story I’ve ever written that’s turned out the way I originally thought it would. It’s one of the most fun things about writing, taking an unexpected turn and thinking, ‘Wait, how’d I wind up here?’ and then realizing that was where you were always meant to be.
Jase. He’s pure amazingness. Who do you see him as in a movie version? What about Samantha?
This is a tough one for me. I have this clear picture of both of them in my head,and they don’t look like anyone else. When I had to cast it a while back, I had Jared Padelecki and Amanda Seyfried (in her Mamma Mia phase). But now, I guess the closest I can get is Brenton Thwaites and Imogen Poots.
What kind of family did you grow up with? More like the Reed’s or the Garret’s?
Neither, and both. I had a very warm, talkative and close family growing up but it was more on the Samantha end of the scale ‘socially’, I guess.
How has it felt to get such glowing reviews of your debut novel?
You know how when you see the Oscars, actors always say “it’s an honor just to be nominated” and you wonder if they are telling the truth or if they will be really cranky and kick their dog if they don’t actually win an award? Now I know they’re telling the truth, because being published is like that for me. Unbelievable. Being published and knowing people are actually reading it? Surreal. And far enough beyond my wildest dreams to be completely satisfying.
What are some things people don’t know about you?
The essay that got me into the college of my choice described my outstanding talents as making an awesome tuna melt and giving a great massage. Am still wondering why that worked. I once kissed a stranger on a train. Other than that, like Jase in MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, I’m pretty much a ‘what you see is what you get’ person, rather than a creature of vast and alluring mystery. (MY thought: Oh my God, too funny! And I love that what you see is what you get persona!)
Do you have any plans for your next book? (Oh please, please say yes!)
I do. My next signed book, now called WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE, is set in the same general area as MLND, but takes place in an Island summer community, where the heroine thinks she will be able to spend the summer forgetting about the boy who was her Biggest Mistake, only to find he’s working right on the Island as the local Yard Boy. And that he has no intention of being forgotten. (MY thought: Uh, sounds amazing!)
So, Massachusetts. How does your hometown compare with the setting of My Life Next Door?
Well, I live in Massachusetts in a small, coastal town now, which is similar to the setting of the book. But I grew up on the Connecticut shore. Stony Bay, where My Life Next Door takes place, borrows a little from both, but is more like my old hometown, especially in the slightly touristy-preppie atmosphere.
Ever see yourself writing something crazily, insanely different, like .. zombies eat boy and girl in love while a mermaid watches and an angel hangs overhead deciding their fates? (Yes, this is how my brain works!)
Whoa. What a great idea. I would love to bust out of my comfort zone like that…I’ve experimented around with writing a mystery, and a historical romance set in the time of Richard III and a New Adult romance…but YA, at least for now, fits me like Cinderella’s slipper. (MY thought: I sure do agree!)
View My Life Next Door on Goodreads HERE.