Dropping in today and kicking off the start of her four week blog tour is Catherine Ryan Hyde, talking about her latest release Jumpstart the World. Other titles by Catherine include Pay It Forward, Becoming Chloe and The Day I Killed James, amongst more. Yes, more. Jumpstart the World is Catherine's 14th published novel. Stick around after this great interview for your chance to win a copy of Jumpstart the World.
What was the hardest aspect about writing about Elle and Frank?
I had to decide how much I was willing to let Frank suffer. If you're writing about a transgender character, it seems unrealistic to ignore the fact that everything from mild disapproval to outright brutality are regular events in the lives of people in transition. I couldn't turn my back on that. But, after a couple of false starts, I figured out that I didn't want Frank to have to be a martyr. It's easy to die at the hands of others while transitioning, but that didn't mean poor Frank had to. Lots of people don't. But the specter of violence is still part of their reality. (Note: It drives me crazy when parents and friends try to talk people out of living as gay or transgender because they might get hurt. It's the bigotry that causes the danger. Bigotry is the disease to be healed, not LGBT.) Finally I figured out a way to show his vulnerability without his having to fall victim.
If Elle could witness one historical event in person, what would she like to see?
Though she might not have given it much thought as the book began, I think by the end of the book Elle would want to see marriage equality finally win out. The Supreme Court, maybe, ruling that it's unconstitutional to deny such basic rights to anyone. And I think she'd want to see the passage of ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) because right now it's legal in 29 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and in 38 states based on gender identity or expression. Now that she knows Frank, and genuinely loves him, that would mean a lot to her. She knows why that's such a big deal. But that's a future historical event. Unfortunately.
If you could pair Elle and Frank with any characters from any books, who would you pick for them?
Definitely Jordy and Chloe (from Becoming Chloe). I think about the fact that they all live in New York City (well, Jordy and Chloe did, at the beginning of their book). And it's weird to think that they could run into each other on a subway car or on the street. In a purely fictional way, of course. But I know they would look into each others' eyes and connect. They would understand and feel for each other. I can almost hear the little click.
What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?
I could tell you that I grew up with a transgender sibling, but it really isn't all that private. To treat that as a secret is to suggest that there's something wrong with it, which I don't believe to be true. So I guess I'll tell you that I dropped about two decades of my life (probably about the same era of my life as most of the people who are reading this) to problems with alcohol and other drugs. I got into recovery in 1989, and I'm sure it's no coincidence that I settled down and got serious about my writing soon afterwards. Before that, I doubt I was serious about anything long-range. It seemed all my energy was going into surviving the very short term issues, of which there were many.
What kind of cake or confection would you describe yourself and Elle as?
This involves pretending for a minute that I don't have a wheat allergy. Which I think I can manage. I think I would be a nice carrot cake with a rich cream cheese frosting. But Elle would be chocolate. Dark chocolate, or maybe even a German chocolate cake with coconut. Notice neither of us is particularly fluffy. No angel's food or lemon cake or anything silly like that. Gotta be more heavy duty stuff.
Thank you so much for that great interview, Catherine, and congrats another fantastic release!
To enter for your chance to win a copy of this book, fill out this form. This contest is US/Canada only and ends Wed, Oct 27 at 6 pm CST.