Welcome Rachel Lynn Solomon to Introvert Problems! Rachel is the author of the upcoming contemporary YA novel You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (Simon Pulse, 1/2/18), an ABA Indies Introduce pick for Winter/Spring 2018. A former journalist, she has worked for NPR, produced a radio show that aired in the middle of the night, and currently works in education. Read on to learn about Rachel’s road to publication and why she loves classic musicals.
1.Congratulations on the upcoming release of YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE! Everyone is so excited for your debut. Please describe your road to publication.
Thank you!! I’m pretty transparent about my journey because there’s not nearly enough information out there about what happens after signing with an agent. I started getting serious about wanting to publish after I graduated college in 2011. I was working my first full-time job as a producer at a radio station — the show I produced aired at 5 a.m. — and I had a lot of lonely free time between 2 and 4 a.m. before everyone else arrived at the station.
I wrote a ton as a kid and teen, but I consider the book I started at that job my first finished manuscript. I queried that book and another one before signing with an agent with my third completed manuscript in 2013. That agent submitted that book plus a fourth book, and we wound up parting ways in 2015. At the time, I had no idea how common this was — I just assumed that you were sort of bonded to your agent for life! But most of my friends at this point are on second, third, fourth agents. I’d just completed my fifth manuscript, which I queried after leaving my first agent. I signed with my new agent in March 2016, and that fifth book, YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, sold in a two-book deal to Simon Pulse in May 2016. I’m so thrilled to be debuting with YMMWIG, as I feel it represents a lot of who I am as a writer, and I couldn’t imagine a better home for it!
My first nugget of an idea, odd as it sounds, was that I wanted to write a sexually aggressive female protagonist because I hadn’t read very many of them in YA. I read a lot of harmful books as a teen that made me think desire was something reserved only for boys, not something girls experience or should ever act on. So that girl became Adina, the viola prodigy who owns her sexuality and is fully comfortable in her body. Her twin, Tovah, is ambitious too (in a different way — she wants to become a surgeon), but she’s much shyer about her body, and her arc deals more with the exploration of that.
My second piece of inspiration came when I tumbled into a Wikipedia black hole and started researching Huntington’s disease, which I’d always viewed as especially devastating because children of parents with HD can take a genetic test to learn whether they’ll inherit. I saw this statistic: that there’s a 50 percent a child of a parent with HD will develop the disease themselves, and I thought, what if twins had opposite results?
Lastly, I hadn’t ever written Jewish protagonists until this book. I realized I hadn’t even read very many Jewish protagonists in contemporary novels, so this is my attempt at showing we have many more stories to tell beyond Holocaust narratives.
3. You’re a tap dancer! How long have you danced/performed? Will you ever write a dance book?
I’ve been tapping and performing with a studio for four years, though I did a little as a kid. Truly, I’ve never been the most graceful person, so tap started out as a challenge for myself! I adore old movies — Singin’ in the Rain is one of my favorites, and the tap in that movie is absolutely incredible.
I’m writing a semi-dance book right now! My 2019 book with Simon Pulse features a girl on dance team who wants to become a choreographer. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a dance book, though. It’s about the aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends, complicated by the fact that the donor is in love with the recipient.
4. What has been your favorite book of the year? Of all time?
My favorite book of 2017 is Rebecca Barrow’s YOU DON’T KNOW ME BUT I KNOW YOU, which is incredible. I can’t recommend it more highly to fans of complex, character-driven contemporary YA! I cycle between a few all-time favorite books; at the top of the list right now are PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld, SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers, and BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver.
5. What is your dream project?
I try to challenge myself with each book, otherwise I lose interest, haha. My two Simon Pulse books are both dual POV, though my 2019 book has the first male POV I’ve written. The book I just finished takes place over 24 hours, which was a lot of fun to write. I’d love to write something that plays around with structure in some inventive, fresh way, though I’m still brainstorming how exactly to do that! That would be my dream project, though — a unique structure or timeline.
Keep up with Rachel