All About Claire

I don’t know where these questions originated, so I apologize for not being able to properly credit.

What is your title of your book?

I call it CLAIRE, after my main character. I have also referred to it as MY LIFE PLAYS OUT.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Not sure. I can’t remember if I started writing this in high school or community college. All those late 90s years kinda run together.

My very first draft was about a teen crushing on her cute, young teacher. I’m sure it was part autobiographical. My computer crashed, taking the draft with it. In retrospect, good for my computer.

The second iteration was still about the girl and her teacher, but focused more on her strained relationships with family and friends.

In its current form, Claire still has a crush on an older guy, but he doesn’t return those feelings. I dig deeper into family issues.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Contemp

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Teen Lana McKissack

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A part-Japanese 15-year-old girl bonds with her friend’s stepfather over their shared culture, but after she acts on her unrequited crush, the fallout of the situation unexpectedly uncovers family secrets.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hope an agency

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Original draft: I don’t remember

Current draft: a very long time

May we see an intro?

I wish I still had my first, first draft because I’m pretty sure the opening was Claire walking down the stairs of school and musing on what a badass she was. I wish I could reread that glorious pretentiousness.

Current opening:

Mom was late dropping me off at the rec center, even though this dance class was her stupid idea. She’d asked what I wanted to do this summer and I’d said, “listen to music,” but apparently, I needed to be more social, so here I was, standing in a dim, fluorescent-lit hallway while Mom went off to parade homebuyers through properties with so much potential.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A little story: Around a decade ago, I had a couple people beta read my middle draft and someone said they could picture Kristen Stewart playing Claire. Twilight movies were all the rage at that time, so I understood they meant it as a compliment, but their comments made me cry because I’d clearly stated Claire was of Japanese descent.

Fast forward to 2017, when I read Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Starfish with a part-Japanese main character who didn’t know how she fit in. I cried again.

I started digging deeper into Claire’s story to expose its core: family, connection, grief, and loneliness.

So, I don’t have comparative titles, per se, but I strive to write as beautifully as authors like Bowman or Nina LaCour.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think it was that feeling of trying to present yourself as a badass, all the while terrified someone will see through your façade to the insecure, uncertain person inside.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A brief (reposted) love-list:

Friendship
Music
Little rebellions

To expand:

Claire and Lindy become best friends

Claire loves music and the song lyrics I share are pieces of poems I’ve written

Claire’s mother is well-meaning, but overbearing, and Claire responds in her own, quiet little ways

There is an age-appropriate love interest

There’s a made-up teen soap that Claire and Lindy are obsessed with and I wish it were real because I’d watch it

As heavy as the book sounds, there are plenty of lighter moments

Published by Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Things I like: cats, snacks, baseball, green tea, taking pictures of trees & movies so bad, they’re good.

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