Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Author Interview- J.H. Trumble

1) How did you come up with the idea for Don't Let Me Go?

DLMG came about in stages, so I’ll address your question that way, if you don’t mind.

Stage 1: My friend Alissa Wood and I decide we’re going to write our novels if it kills us. I jump in; she gets married, opens a library, and has a baby. I think we both did pretty well.

Stage 2: I ask myself what I’m passionate about. The answer is easy: the right to love the person of your choice.

Stage 3: Books are about conflict, and I really don’t want this to be the kind of gay story that’s all about fighting homophobia. Homophobia definitely plays a roll, but for me, this story is more about internal conflict, and not about sexual orientation.

On a walk one day I get to thinking about a young man whose story just broke my heart a few years earlier. I think about the things he said in interviews about everyone knowing what happened to him, and I think about how much pain he must have been in to take his own life a few years after his assault. Then I wonder about how things might have played out differently if he’d had someone like Adam who knew what others didn’t and fought for him when he couldn’t fight for himself. And thus the driving force behind Nate’s insecurity and fear is born. Here’s a link to the news article that inspired this conflict: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-07-02-cruise-ship-death_N.htm

Stage 4: DLMG, as you probably know now, began as two novels. The first novel ended with high school graduation, the trip to Key West, and Nate’s facing his emotional issues. But then I got to thinking that Adam just graduated, and surely such a talented young man wouldn’t just hang around for a year waiting on Nate to graduate. He had to go to school or work. And when he did, what would happen to Nate. And thus, novel two is born.

Stage 5: For the final piece of this adventure I have to give credit to a young woman who ran a blog— Gossip Candy — a few years ago on which she posted prolifically about American Idol Season 9, everything Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. I spent hours that summer scrolling through her GIFS and hilariously captioned photos. Her humor definitely influences the character of Danial. Sadly, the blog is down now.

2) What is your writing process like? Do you have any rituals that you have to do to get in the mood, or do you just sit down and write?

I don’t like a lot of clutter when I write— it clutters my brain — so I tend to clean first. Beyond that, it’s all about word count. I’m a stickler for getting work done when I’m working on a novel. Even if I go over my goal one day, I don’t give myself any slack the next. Five days a week until I’m done. I’ll jot down the word count where I need to end my day, and I work until I’m done. I do take breaks when I need to think. Sometimes I clean something or take a walk, but I’m working through what’s coming next when I do. It helps to leave myself a few notes at the end of a work day about where I want to go next. Sometimes it’s whole paragraphs or dialog. After a while, I find myself thinking three or four scenes ahead and the notes that go with those thoughts.

3) What are you currently working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

I just finished the big edits on a novel titled Where You Are. It’s scheduled for a 2012 release (probably December). I wrote it this summer, and I’ve been tweaking it since. It’s about a 24-year-old teacher who falls for one of his senior calculus students, a young man who is dealing with his conflicted feelings about his dad’s death. The story is told in alternating viewpoints. I’m very excited about this one.

I have a third novel on the books for 2013. I already have one in the wings (Luke’s story), but I’m also about to start something new. I THINK this new story will be about a young man who is still dealing with the disappearance of his younger sister years ago. I’m not sure where this one is going, but I have a number of scenes in mind, and I can’t wait to get started! Not sure which novel will be pubbed next.

4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

I love jelly beans! Definitely NOT popcorn or licorice. Beyond that, I haven’t met a Jelly Belly I didn’t love. My favorite, though, is probably pineapple. I love the tropical fruits. Everyone, feel free to send me jelly beans!

5) You did a wonderful job writing about the ache and pain a couple goes through being long-distance. Did you ever have a long-distance relationship? If not, how did you write about it so convincingly?

Been there, done that. When I was twenty, I was engaged to be married to a hometown boy that I actually met at Texas A&M. We even had our engagement photo made for the newspaper. I was totally gaga over him. I dropped out of school and got a job. The plan was that I’d work while he got his graduate degree in nuclear engineering or something like that. As a result of my decision, I was also estranged from my parents and soon living on my own for the first time.

We were living about two hours apart. Anyway, it didn’t take too long before I started getting that feeling that something was amiss. I was a crazy person for a while, especially after my suspicions were confirmed. We broke up. He made a half-assed attempt to get back together. Even his mom called me. But that was a betrayal I just couldn’t get past after everything I’d given up. And frankly, he just didn’t try hard enough. If he had, my life might have turned out completely different. So, Michael, thanks for being such a jerk!

So, I understand crazy. I pulled heavily from that experience.

6) Since you have no bio on your website or facebook (at least, not that I could find, and which made it difficult to come up with questions), can you tell us 3 interesting/random things about yourself?

I’m so mysterious! Ha ha. And since you know so little about me, I’ll give you five things.

I still have the baton I twirled with in high school, and every now and then I take it out for a spin or two.

I used to be a teacher, and once I wrote an article about leaving the profession. To my surprise it was published as the lead article in the Diversions section of the Houston Chronicle and almost cost me my job a few months early.

I always take the lead on group projects (I’m bossy like that!), and once wrote a reader’s theater on Charlotte’s Web, which included songs to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme and the song the mice sing on Babe. It was awesome, though my group didn’t quite get it and the performance was somewhat lacking. I also choreographed a dance for my school’s annual chili cook-off. I shanghaied some colleagues and we put on a performance to The Village People’s “Macho Man.” It was quite a show ;)

My daughter is gay and out. That’s pretty current news. I’m very proud of her and her brother, who took it all in stride.

I have a piano, and my biggest regret in life is that I didn’t stick with piano lessons when I was younger (or older). It takes me forever to learn a piece, and then I play it ad nauseum. I used to be really good at “The Entertainer,” “Fur Elise,” and Chicago’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love.”


  1. Thanks for this fun interview, James!

  2. Great little tidbits! Oh how I miss scrolling through Gossipcandy with Janet. Those were good times. :) Oh how we love that dish on her past, too. Janet, next time you see me walking over, be ready for some questions!!!

  3. Great interview. I can't believe you don't like popcorn jelly beans?! They are like my all-time favorite. I just can't help it. So good.

    I love how this book came from two stories. Sometimes story really DO work better when just put together, and not just made into one book and a sequel because it's the popular thing to do or something.

    Thanks, James and Janet!


  4. awesome interview. this guy is cool beans

  5. Little late to read the interview LOL I just finished the book and I loved it. Thanks for the interview James.