We are so lucky to have contemporary queen, Nina LaCour, here in the Bay Area. We caught up with her to chat a little about her latest book, We Are Okay. Check out the interview below and watch for a recap of her launch event, coming soon!
Hi Nina! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! First, could you please tell us a little about your newest novel, We Are Okay, and what inspired you to write this novel?
Thanks so much for having me! We Are Okay is the story of Marin, an orphan who fled her old life in San Francisco upon her grandfather’s death for an upstate New York college, leaving her best friend Mabel behind without explanation. Mabel flies to New York, where Marin is staying in an empty dormitory over the winter break, to attempt Marin to return home with her for Christmas. I wanted to write a novel that took place over a short number of days and in a confined setting because I wanted to give time and attention to small gestures and objects.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
My dad introduced me to Raymond Carver’s work when I was in high school. For years I read and studied and reread his short stories. Even though I’ve loved many other authors since, he’s absolutely the one who most influenced my style. We Are Okayprobably reflects that more than any of my other novels because of that attention to small moments that I mentioned. Characters do a lot of sitting still in rooms in Carver stories. There is a lot of quiet, and many conversations, and characters who are trying very hard to figure things out.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Near the beginning of the journey for each new book, an ideal of what I want it to be forms. I spend the rest of the drafting time attempting to reach that ideal, and I never quite do. But in this book I came the absolute closest I ever have in reaching it. My goal was to really examine grief and family and the ways in which we cope with, and compensate for, the shortfalls of the people who raise us. I wanted to write about how even the people we love most remain mysteries to us, and how we are often also mysteries to ourselves.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
This book was a magical gift of a writing experience. It was not difficult to write, which was surprising after slogging through writing my last two solo novels. Writing my first novel, Hold Still, was a joyful experience and I was beginning to think that writing a novel might never feel that way again. And then the idea for this book arrived and it felt perfectly right from when I started scrawling notes on scratch paper until the very last edits. That isn’t to say that I didn’t make changes along the way, or get some parts wrong and correct them, but just that I always felt that this book was on the right track and that it was a project I believed in.
Who designed your book cover? It is gorgeous! And how do you feel it captures the spirit of the book?
I am thrilled with the cover—and with the entire package of the book, which also has original art on the endpapers. It is designed by Samira Iravani and the art is by Adams Carvalho. I didn’t have any idea what Dutton was doing with the cover until my editor, Julie Strauss Gabel, sent me two options, both by the same artist. I cried, I loved them so much. Not only do I find this cover beautiful to look at, it also perfectly captures the feeling of the book. My favorite element is the way it shows the settings. In the present, Marin is in her New York dorm room during a snowstorm, but she is also wrestling with her past, which was near San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. So I love that in the cover art she’s in her room with snow falling, and also looking out at the ocean.
If you’re able to, can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?
It is still very much in the formative, note-jotting stages, but it has to do with sisters and family and loss. I feel like staying in this moody, reflective place with my books for a little longer.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Hmm. . . People have asked me such great questions, but I have yet to be asked why Marin thinks so much about Jane Eyre. But then, anyone who is familiar with Jane Eyre will see that there are many parallels and many reasons why Marin would be haunted by it.
Nina LaCour is the author of the award-winning Hold Still and widely acclaimedThe Disenchantments. Formerly a bookseller and high school English teacher, she now writes and parents full time. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Nina lives with her family in Richmond, California. Visit her site at www.ninalacour.com.
WE ARE OKAY
by Nina LaCour
Published: February 14th 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
"You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother."
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
Follow the Tour
2/13 – ButterMyBooks – Review
2/14 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Interview
2/15 – The Paige-Turner – Review + Favorite Quotes
2/16 – Read Sleep Fangirl – Playlist + Photoshoot
2/17 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Interview
2/20 – Lost in Lit – Review + Book Look
2/21 – YA Wednesdays – Like/Try/Why
2/22 – Pop! Goes the Reader – Guest Post
2/23 – Good Books & Wine – Review + Favorite Quotes
2/24 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (ARV: $17.99 each). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on February 27, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about February 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.