Ask the Author: Gae Polisner
What would you like readers to know about you?
That I never thought I would be an author. That this career is truly beyond my wildest dreams. That I have my fifth and sixth books coming out (and may have just sold a 7th) is mind-boggling. That every book I write is a hail mary that starts with nothing more than a moment, a character, a curiosity. I never have an outline or any idea where I’m going. I also love time hops and flashbacks, so if you don’t, consider yourself forewarned. 🙂
Also, I believe in kindness. That kindness is different than being nice. And I really believe we need more of it.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
It’s about a teen girl who is ready for more. . . but maybe not as ready as she thinks. It’s about the fragility of female friendships (and I hope readers might take from it how different female self-esteem might be — how strong we might all be — if girls didn’t judge one another so harshly, and so commonly. Sub out girls for women, where appropriate, unfortunately. We need to do better).
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I was badly bullied in HS. Always by girls. I learned not to trust women, to not trust female friendships. To turn to men for approval. It wasn’t until I was in my early 40’s that I learned to trust women again. I wrote a whole essay about some of the seminal HS stuff, which is featured here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/blog/spotlight-on-jack-kerouac-is-dead-to-me-gae-polisner-plus-guest-post
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
There’s a moment about a moth on a carnival ride. That moment that I was able to capture, made my heart full. I loved the challenge of trying to balance JL’s fear/not-quite-readiness with her actual desire. I wanted her desire to be felt, to be okay, to even be sensual. I think parts of the book are pretty hot. I want that to be okay. Fun. Okay. Female desire is okay. It doesn’t make us slutty. It also doesn’t always mean we are ready.
My editor and I joke that she bought it on the “thumb scene” alone. Maybe we’re not joking.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Childhood: Judy Blue, Madeline L’ Engle, Paul Zindel. YA to early adulthood: hands down, William Goldman. You can often find me talking about his books — especially the early ones no one ever heard of: Boys and Girls Together, Color of Light, Temple of Gold. I read The Princess Bride LONG before it was ever a movie. My best friend and I wrote to the publisher for the missing sex scene (they never sent it). We knew so many lines by heart. Before most. I take a unique (and likely misguided) pride in this.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Read a lot. And just write it. Don’t try to make it pretty. Just get it down. Beginning. Middle. And end. Don’t send it to agents or publishers after, though. Not until you’ve then rewritten it, revised it, shared it with objective readers, rewritten it again, and so on (or they’ll kill me!). The magic is all in the revisions!!!