Between the lines with Gayle Forman (Q&A w/ event details)

Gayle Forman will present her new novel, Leave Me, at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison next Wednesday evening, October 19th, at 7:00 p.m., where she will appear alongside Caroline Leavitt (Cruel Beautiful World). This event is free and open to the public; registration is preferred and can be completed online or by calling the store at 203-245-3959. Copies of both authors’ books will be available for purchase/signing. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.

Both authors will also appear as part of The White Hart Speaker Series with Oblong Books at The White Hart Inn in Salisbury on Tuesday, November 15, at 6:00 p.m.


Today, I’m honored to share virtual space with Gayle Forman.

Gayle is the author of the recently released adult novel, Leave Me (Algonquin Books). A bestselling, award-winning YA writer, she is perhaps best known for If I Stay; that title won the 2009 NAIBA Book of the Year Award, was a 2010 Indie Choice Honor Award winner, and was adapted for film in 2014. Gayle is also a journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. She has visited more than forty countries and wrote a nonfiction book about her travels titled You Can’t Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World. Gayle makes her home in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two daughters.

Leave Me was a #1 September LibraryReads Selection, a September Indie Next Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a People Pick.

Author Gayle Forman.

Praise for Leave Me:

“YA author Forman’s successful foray into adult fiction … With humor and pathos, Forman depicts Maribeth’s complicated situation and her thoroughly satisfying arc, leaving readers feeling as though they’ve really accompanied Maribeth on her journey.”—Publishers Weekly

“Award-winning teen author Forman’s (I Was Here, 2015, etc.) adult debut nails the frustrations of working motherhood….An appealing fairy tale for the exhausted and underappreciated.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Popular teen author Forman’s adult debut examines just what it means to be a working mother—beholden to everyone, seemingly obligated to forget who you really are. Maribeth’s search for her birth mother and the way she settles into her new—albeit temporary—life away from home will strike a chord with readers, especially those who enjoy Jennifer Weiner and Meg Wolitzer.”—Booklist (starred)

“How do we reinvent ourselves when we can’t even recognize the body we are in? Can you know where you’re headed if you don’t know where you came from? These are the questions faced by the prickly Maribeth, the complex and fascinating character at the center of Leave Me. In her first novel for adults, Forman reminds the reader that the answer to both questions involves getting to the heart of the matter.”—Jodi Picoult, author of Leaving Time

From the publisher:

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

With bighearted characters–husbands, wives, friends, and lovers–who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?


Now, Gayle Forman reveals a few pages from the book of her life …

John Valeri: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

Gayle Forman: Under-the-cover bibliophile. Which is where I read when it was past bed time and the lights were supposed to be out. I used to bring my clip-on reading lamp under the covers.

JV: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

GF: Back then, it started with these cheap Sweet Dreams Romances my dad would buy me on our weekly trip to Crown Bookstores. From then I graduated to Jackie Collins and from there to Milan Kundera and Tom Robbins. Now I don’t read under the covers. It wakes up the husband. I read on the iPad.

JV: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?

GF: I am currently reading a ton of things about historical Jesus and the disciples. What’s most striking to me are the occasional glimpses into the actual flesh-and-blood humans these men were. And I just got Ann Patchett’s latest novel, Commonwealth. She is one of my automatic-buy authors. I love her.

JV: What one book do you always recommend when asked?

GF: I tend to recommend a lot of YA because I’m always asked, by teens and adults, what’s out there.  I like to think of myself as a bookseller so my recommendations depend on the reader. YA fans loving realistic fiction, I point toward Melina Marchetta, Jandy Nelson, or Matt De La Peña. Friends wanting feminist reads for their children, I recommend Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens. Adults wanting to know what the YA fuss is about, I point toward Jandy Nelson or Jackie Woodson or Andrew Smith. Which isn’t to say I don’t push the adult titles. I’ve been raving to everyone about Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I’ve been known to butt in to people’s browsing at bookstores and shove books—from titles by Stephanie Perkins to Nicole Krauss’s A Brief History of Love—in their hands.

JV: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?

GF: Well, Leave Me because it’s the one that just came out and it’s both a departure (a book starring adults, known in the industry as an adult novel, which sounds like porn) and it very much feels like a Gayle Forman book. Beyond that, I leave it to readers. They’re smart. They have a way of finding the book they need to read. My job is just to write them.

JV: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?

GF: I don’t think so because if my people know me they know that I’m the opposite of a snob and if anything makes me hurl it’s literary navel-gazing. So I don’t discount any book because it doesn’t seem literary/smart enough. If anything, I’m aghast at all the naked emperors, lauded books that I find excessively self-indulgent. And no, I won’t name names.

JV: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?

GF: President Obama or Lin-Manuel Miranda. And no, I haven’t met either but Lin did just sign books for both my daughters so we are one step closer.

JV: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

GF: When If I Stay came out I did a brief tour in the UK, France and the Netherlands. I flew into Paris in the evening and was whisked into the city by a car. Every other time I’d been to Paris, it had been as a broke backpacker so the contrast was striking. I was in the back of a Mercedes, being driven into Paris, because I’d written a book.

JV: What is your greatest literary ambition?

GF: To keep writing books until I no longer want to write books. For every book to be better than its predecessor.

JV: Fill in the blank: John B. Valeri / Hartford Books Examiner is _____.

GF: … whoever he wants to be.



With thanks to Gayle Forman for her generosity of thought and to Jacquellyn Burke, Senior Publicist at Algonquin and Algonquin Young Readers, for facilitating this interview.

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