I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer from the Books, Personally blog about Girls I Know. See an excerpt of the Q&A below, or check out the full interview as well as her review of Girls I Know.
Walt, the main character of Girls I Know, loves his adopted city of Boston, and this love shines throughout your book. What is your own relationship to the city of Boston – are you a Boston native, or someone who, like Walt, came to adopt Boston as his home? If you had to pick your three very favorite things about the city, what would they be?
I am like Walt. I moved to Boston to attend graduate school and developed a great fondness for the city, although unlike Walt I ended up leaving Boston and writing Girls I Know from afar. My three favorite things about Boston? I would have to say Fenway Park, jogging along the Charles River, and walking in and around the city: from Cambridge up through Beacon Hill and the Back Bay.
In the novel, Walt, Ginger, and Mercedes come from very different backgrounds and have such very different voices. Which of your characters was most challenging to write and why? Which most surprised you?
I struggled the most, somewhat curiously, with Walt’s voice. He is introspective but only to a point because, through much of the book, he isn’t entirely satisfied with where he is as a person. As a writer I certainly identified the most with Ginger: the desire to get into the heads of other people, to explore a city for one’s own creative purposes, all that resonated with me. And I met a lot of girls like her when I lived in Boston, so her voice came to me very naturally. I was most hesitant and nervous about Mercedes’s point of view. She is a young (11-year-old) African-American girl who is orphaned after the shootings that take place at her parents’ restaurant. When I first began the novel, I had factored in that John and Natalie Bittles would have a child but I didn’t see her as having a very significant role to play. Then, after the shootings, I realized that the novel was just as much about her life as those of Walt and Ginger. But her sensibility and perspective on the world felt very natural to me from the very early drafts on, and that was the biggest–and most pleasant–surprise I encountered in writing the book.