Recently I had the pleasure to interview with Jenn Marie Thorne, author of The Wrong Side if Right. My review for this amazing book will be up soon but in the meantime, here is the interview!
Are there any qualities about yourself that you reflect in your protagonist?
Kate is someone who struggles to find a balance between getting along with everyone and standing up for what she believes in, and that’s something I can relate to personally. As a teen, I split my time between my divorced parents’ houses, and I often felt that tightrope sensation of “who do I need to be here to fit into the family?” Ultimately, of course, the only right answer is “yourself,” and Kate’s journey throughout The Wrong Side of Right leads her to that realization. Regarding extroversion and how I communicate, I have to admit that I’m probably more of an Andy or a Penny than a Kate in my day to day life.
What inspired your book The Wrong Side of Right inspired by?
I was listening to NPR in my car the day the scandal broke that Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor of California, had fathered a child with his housekeeper and that the boy was already thirteen years old. The news panel discussion was all about Arnold’s political future and the damage to his aspirations moving forward, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that kid. What must he have been going through as the story spread worldwide? Was he being sheltered from the press? Was his father with him? Was this in some ways a good thing for him, that he could finally have a public relationship with his dad? Those questions kept coming, and morphed into what-ifs – what if he were a girl?
Given the pressures and spotlight we place on teen girls in this society, would that be in some ways harder? What if the politician were running for president…and she was thrust into the national spotlight as a central part of the campaign? Once all those ideas were too bulky to fit in my head, I started getting them down on paper, and that was the beginning of the novel.
Have you ever had writer’s block and if so, how did you work through it?
I am a die-hard plotter. I start each project with a full plot outline and begin every day of writing by sketching out what I’m going to write. So I find that when I have moments that resemble writer’s block (i.e. pouting, pacing, harrumphing, cleaning my entire house to avoid writing), it means that something’s gone wrong with my outline.
Something isn’t working – and so I take that day to untangle my plot, spice up the content, do what it takes to get excited about what I’m writing again. Because if I’m not excited to write it, why would anyone be excited to read it? That being said, sometimes the writing is just not going to happen, so I’ll call it a cheat day, kick my feet up and read all afternoon. I don’t take more than one day in a row like that, though, or I get out of synch with what I’m working on.
Were you already familiar with politics before getting into this book or did you have to do research?
I had developed a curiosity about politics, and presidential campaigns in particular, because a few people I knew were deeply involved in the 2008 Obama campaign, including one friend who later became the official White House videographer. His Facebook posts and videos were a great window into the workings of a campaign, what life was like for people riding the bus from event to event. So when I had the initial idea for the book, I knew that his posts would be a great resource as I centered the story on a presidential campaign. From there, I read a few great behind the scenes books, like Game Change and Meghan McCain’s Dirty, Sexy Politics, and I watched documentaries like The War Room, along with hours upon hours of The West Wing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It took me a long time! I have been writing short stories and plays my entire life, but I’d always seen it as a fun hobby while I pursued a career as an actress. I went to NYU for acting, but I found I enjoyed my writing courses there even more than my studio training. Eventually, I realized that as much as I loved living in my imagination, inhabiting characters and breathing life into them and their worlds, I much preferred to do so without an audience staring at me. Which is kind of a problem for an actor – but perfect for a writer? When I moved to LA, the first thing I did was find an alumni writing group to join, and from that point on, I considered myself a writer.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love learning languages, getting a linguistic window into a world that’s different from my own, I speak conversational French, and a smattering of Spanish and I’m working on Italian and German. I adore singing, too, I used to study classical voice, so I keep it up as much as I can, even if it just means singing along with opera recordings with all my windows open on a nice day. My poor neighbors put up with it as best they can. I also travel a lot with my family. My husband is from England, so we travel back and forth from our home in Florida several times a year.
What was your favorite book growing up and what is your favorite book now?
I read so much as a kid that my favorite book changed on almost a weekly basis, but Anne of Green Gables still holds a special place in my heart. My favorite book now is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – a tour-de-force hybrid of faerie legend, historical fiction and convincing pseudo-scholarship that just blew me away when I read it and has remained stuck firmly in my brain ever since.
Thank you, Jenn, for taking the time to answer my questions! Also while you are waiting for my review, you can buy the Wrong Side of Right at a bookstore near you! Check out the description below and have an awesome week!
XOXO Shelby Grace
Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?