If you're a regular follower of my blog, you'll know there are two books for sale right now with the title Don't Let Me Go. One is my newest US release, published last year in the UK. The other is an amazing debut novel by J.H. Trumble. Sound like a confusion, or a conflict? Only if you see it that way. Janet and I have bonded over it, become friends, and decided one reflects well on the other.
So we came up with the idea to do a blog feature on the two DLMGs. Below are a handful of questions about our books that we both answered. Another set of questions, such as major themes, favorite character, and a little about reader comments and fan letters are posted right now on Janet's blog. I'll include a link again at the end so you can just keep reading.
The story behind the title
Originally I was going to call this Our Year of Grace. I still love that, and part of me still thinks it’s a better title, because it’s more specific to this book. I was really big on getting Grace’s name in there. But my UK publisher, who had this under contract first, was not big on Grace’s name. They thought it made it sound too quiet and sedate, I think. Plus they love the narrative titles, with more emotion.
I came up with Don’t Let Me Go by trying to imagine the emotional heart of the story from Grace’s point of view. If there was one simple thing she could say to this mismatched band of neighbors, what would it be? The sense I got is that Grace was holding on by a thread, and they were the thread. Poor kid was in a position something like dangling over a pit of hungry alligators. These people she barely knew when the story started were keeping her from falling. In a case like that, it’s got to be, “Please, whatever you do, don’t let go!”
But my UK publisher doesn’t like long titles, either. So I pared it down.
I saw Catherine’s great title and stole it. Kidding!
Actually, the novel file on my computer went through many titles. I rather liked You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but as my agent pointed out, the characters, did, in fact, get what they wanted, so . . . so much for that.
In the opening scene, Nate is irritated with Adam’s flubbing of the lyrics to The Fray’s “Never Say Never.” The refrain in that song is, of course, “Don’t let me go.” When I suggested that title to my agent, he fell in love with it. Same with my editor. And I have to admit, the title works very well with the story, so I can’t imagine it being anything else now.
Thoughts on the cover
I liked the UK cover a lot. Seems almost everybody did. The US editions of the new adult novels, the ones that are first published in the UK, are Indie books. It’s a way of diversifying, for lack of a better word, as publishing changes. Of course, my agency and I hire a pro cover designer. But for the first two books, I let the designer choose a cover image.
In this case, I’d spent weeks combing royalty-free stock images to find ones we all liked for my four backlist titles. They’ll be coming out as Indie ebooks over the next four months. And I wanted to choose my own cover images. So when the time came for this cover, I wanted to present the image to the designer and have him create a cover that tied in with When I Found You and Second Hand Heart, font-wise, color-wise, etc.
I liked the girl with the key, so I searched for a “girl with key” stock photo. And found the one my UK publisher had used. It was a non-exclusive license. So, after my agent spoke to them to be sure they had no objections, we used the same image they did. But we cropped it very differently. We left the girl’s face in. She’s so tiny and vulnerable. I found that compelling. And the UK cover was very pink—they’d made the girl’s shirt pink. We kept it white and soft, but with a kind of golden hue.
I still like the UK cover, but I like ours better. It’s my favorite of all my book covers to date.
You remember how it was when you first saw Robert Pattinson as Edward? Well, that’s how I felt about the cover of Don’t Let Me Go when I first saw it. It’s a beautiful cover! But after living with Nate in my head for two years, seeing an image on a cover was just jarring. I kept thinking, Nate doesn’t own a jacket like that. He wears a hoodie. But just as I fell in love with Robert as Edward (Yes, I’m a Twilight fan!), I fell in love with the cover of Don’t Let Me Go.
Did you know that Matt Bomer is on the cover of Alex Sanchez’s The Rainbow Boys? I wonder who thet model is on the cover of Don’t Let Me Go. If you know him, call me!
Reaction to discovering there’s another DLMG
Not terribly surprised. Because it’s happened before.
My first story collection, Earthquake weather, came out in the same year as another Earthquake Weather, a novel in a different genre (fantasy, I think). It didn’t seem to hurt much. People seemed to find the one they wanted. You can’t copyright a title anyway.
When I started writing Love in the Present Tense, I did a web search on that title, because it seemed almost too good to be true. Or too good to be sitting there waiting for me, I guess I should say. There had been a stage play at some point by that title, but no books. But then, by the time it came out, there was a nonfiction self-help book called Love in the Present Tense. But like most nonfiction books, it had a subtitle. Which helped.
My only worry would be that the other author might think I copied the title from them (never did that) or be threatened by it. But once I touched base with you, and we both thought it was a happy coincidence, it was all good from there.
I got an email from a blogger friend that Catherine and I have in common—Brent Taylor. My Don’t Let Me Go had gone into production about month earlier, I think, and Catherine’s was due for release in September (about three months before mine would release). My reaction? Oops.
I emailed my editor in a panic. “Did you know there’s another Don’t Let Me Go coming out soon?” He assured me it happens all the time, and our books wouldn’t be competing with each other. So I contacted Catherine and made a new friend.
And here we are! Every time I search my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I get to see hers too. I actually think it’s a very special coincidence, one that I’m grateful for.
What We Like About Each Other
I like everything about Janet. What’s not to like?
But I think what I like best is how she gave this teen book blogger, Brent, a platform to take (some) school librarians to task over LGBT literature. He’s famous now, because the post went viral. But at the time, probably not so much. And I know Janet and Brent are genuinely friends. And I don’t know too many adults who are friends with a teenager (coincidentally, this is an element in the novel I’m working on now). But I know Janet is one, and I know I’m another, so I think that’s a great thing to have in common.
Plus I like the fact that, when she found out we each had books of the same title within a year of each other, she saw it as a happy coincidence with potential opportunities. And here we are in one of them!
Well done, my friend!
Reviews - Read 'em; love 'em.
Favorite book - Stephen King's The Stand
Biggest distraction - My kids!
Obama - 2012!
Libraries - Disappearing (heartbreaking)
Teenagers - Promising
Pride festivals - Insane!
Fifty Shades of Gray - Mmm, no thanks
Magic Mike - Mmmmmm.
Realistic fiction or fantasy - Realistic fiction
Fiction or non-fiction - Non-fiction
Who I'd like to share a meal with - Barack and Michelle Obama (starstruck), Fahreed Zakaria and Paul Krugman (brilliant), and Ellen DeGeneres (delightful)
My legacy - I touched people and changed the world for the better
Last great book I read - The Help
Book I most want to get my hands on - Stephen Colbert's I'm a Pole, and So Can You
Now just click here to go to Janet's blog and read the second half of the interview, which includes my lightning round, and what Janet likes about me.