Author Interview: Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal
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Q: Tell us about your book, and what inspired it.
A: We started this novel in 2015, amid the civil unrest that arose on the heels of the Baltimore protest, as civil unrest swept the country and as people stood up and spoke out about police brutality and racial injustice and inequality. In that charged environment, we thought about how teens experienced those events. In particular, we wondered how two girls, one black and one white, might navigate the same incident.
Thus began the story of Lena and Campbell.
Q; Without giving away any spoilers, what’s your favorite part of the novel?
A;It’s when when they try to leave school and see the cops. Each girl’s life experience informs how she views that moment. One character’s experience of police is that they are authority figures to whom she can turn for assistance. One character’s experience is that police are authoritarian figures who may present a danger. Putting them together in a scene where they’re confronted with a parking lot full of police was bound to evoke polar opposite reactions from them.
Q: What are some challenges unique to writing with another author?
A;Beyond the mechanics, our favorite part of writing together was the lessons we learned. For example, we learned that compromise does not always mean meeting in the middle! Sometimes, one person had a passion for a particular point. Whenever that was the case, we followed that passion - the novel was always better served in the end by taking that route.
Q: Finish this sentence: We hope I’m Not Dying with You Tonight...
A: We hope the book calls to kids (and the people who put books into kids’ hands) both that have similar and dissimilar experiences to these girls. We hope kids who have similar life experiences will connect with these characters and get to see themselves as the hero of the story. We hope that people who don’t have similar life experiences to these characters will find something to relate to, and that reading about them will plant a seed of empathy. We hope that INDWYT encourages all readers to consider the positive, as well as notions they want to challenge, in the characters, and in themselves.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A; Gilly is reading It's a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories by Kathrine Locke and Laura Silverman. Kim just finished Jackpot by Nic Stone.
Q: What else would you like us to know?
A: Issues of violence and racism are personal. Sometimes when we talk about them with broad brush strokes or see them as social media sound bites, it’s easy to distance ourselves from the individuals experiencing the events. We wanted to think and talk about these topics in a very personal way. The cultural backgrounds of these two characters influence the way they navigate and interpret the events of the night. However, we also wanted to reflect one crucial characteristic they have in common: they’re both girls. That creates a bond, informs how they perceive their circumstances, and informs the choices they make that leads them down a path toward unforeseen trouble. We like to wonder: if either one of these characters had been male or male presenting, would the story take place? What do you think?
Book Summary by Lillie C.
The book I’m Not Dying With You Tonight is about two girls who never met until
there was a big fight at school, forcing them to work together to get to safety.
While Lena and Campbell realize the fight is out of hand, they escape only
to find out the fight has propelled the neighborhood into chaos. As they make
their way through the city they come across several situations that
are presented from both Lena and Campbell's perspectives.
Two dreaded hours after they start their journey, they finally make it to 7th
Street where a giant riot broke out. However, their stories don't end there...