Thursday, 1 September 2011

Interview with Jennifer Castle

Hey everyone! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Jennifer Castle, author of the upcoming debut novel, The Beginning of After. I got the chance to read and review this book early from Net Galley and it's wonderful. Hope you enjoy!

Could you describe The Beginning of After in seven words for us?

Laurel discovers there is "life" after tragedy.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

I've always been interested in writing a story about someone who lived while others close to them died... someone who got left behind. What really tugged at me is how everything in that person's life, like their daily routine, their friendships, even the future, would suddenly change. But the real spark came when I met a young woman who, like Laurel, had lost most of her family to a single tragedy; this person was doing some cool things with her life years after the loss and I was really moved by that. I also recently read "The Lovely Bones" and was blown away by how Alice Sebold could build this beautiful story around such a heartbreaking theme. It was not long after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 so everyone was thinking in terms of "before" and "after." It was like we'd lost all our childhoods in a sense and were trying to find our way in a new reality. All those things came together almost at once, and voila!

Your novel deals with some heavy subjects - was it hard sometimes to seperate that from your normal life?

It's funny, because while I was doing most of the work on this book, I was going through some very intense times myself: new motherhood, a second pregnancy, adjusting to having two kids, and then preparing to move from California to New York. Even though Laurel's challenges were very different than mine (and much harder!), I think I channeled some of my stress into heavier parts of the story. I guess you could say that Laurel's world was an escape because even though her world was tough, it was still a world I could control completely.

Which is easier for you - description or dialogue?

Ooh, let me think. It always depends on the scene. Some description just lands on the page fully formed as if someone else wrote it for me, but in general, I find dialogue easier. Especially when I know exactly what I want to have happen, and I know the characters really well. Then they just talk on their own and all I have to do is listen!

What's one major pet peeve of yours?

When people mix up "its" and "it's" or use "apostrophe s" as a plural. I'm a grammar nerd. It just bugs me! Especially when I see that on store signs or printed ads. It's actually pretty easy to remember the difference: if you can replace the "apostrophe s" with the word "is,", use the apostrophe. Otherwise, don't. And now I'll stop with the irritating English lesson...

{HA! I have the exact same problem. Please learn the correct uses of apostrophes, guys...}

Is there a particular routine you go through when writing?

Before I sit down, I have to do about 15 minutes of what I call Screwing Around Online because it helps me chill out. Then I play a game of online Mahjongg, and turn off my Internet connection for at least 90 minutes so I'm not tempted. I don't write at a desk. I have to have my laptop on my lap -- that's a weird quirk I have about feeling more connected to the keyboard or something -- so I sit in bed or a comfy chair. Ideally, there's a cup of tea and a sleeping cat within reach, too. I know that's a cliche but I honestly think those two things are necessary for writing!

Are there novels that you would recommend to fans of The Beginning of After?

Definitely "The Lovely Bones," as I mentioned before. "The Sky Is Everywhere" by Jandy Nelson and "Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta. And for something a little less obvious, maybe "Life As We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I think all these books touch on the same theme that mine does: no matter what we experience in life, no matter how terrible and game-changing, I believe we can survive it. Each of us is strong enough.

Do you have any plans for release day? How are you feeling - nervous, excited, anxious...?

I'm feeling all those things! Mostly disbelief that the day has finally come. Ironically, it's also my older daughter's first day of first grade so in the morning I'll be focused on getting her ready, taking the obligatory photos, loading her onto the school bus. I'll take my younger daughter to preschool and then... who knows? I plan to stop by the local indie bookstore to say hi and see the book (and take more obligatory photos!). There must be sushi involved at some point. Beyond that, maybe a drive up to Barnes and Noble for more of the same. I just plan on being a total geek all day long. This will be a true "Before and After" moment and I'm looking forward to the After, whatever it may bring!


Thanks so much, Jennifer! Mark your calendars for September 6th, when The Beginning of After hits stores. You can also pre-order the book from the Book Depository here and add it to Goodreads here.

Find Jennifer Castle:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog


  1. I hate it when apostrophes are used incorrectly too! I die a little inside every time I see it :P. Great interview, thanks so much! I'm really looking forward to reading The Beginning of After! :)

  2. Haha erm, I think I sometimes suffer from wrongly placing apostraphes... aswell as really stupid typos or placing weird words instead of others. I type too fast for my brain to keep up :P The Beginning of After sounds like a touching novel, I love those kind of emotional reads. Great interview, can't wait to read the book!

  3. Interesting how the tough subjects helped with her stress. Great interview!

  4. Beginning of After sounds great, and I love the title. And the bit about "obligatory photos" reminded me of my family, because that happens every year, and we're usually almost late to school because of it. Jennifer, enjoy your release day! I'd do the same thing, geeky or no.

  5. Okay, massive finger malfunction, and now I can't just let it go. *geeky or not.

  6. Oh no, not the dreaded "its" versus "it's" mistakes! Those are just as bad as their/there/they're ;)

    Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)