Q & A

Who (or what) inspired your characters? Their relationships? The setting? How did this all connect to form the story that we see today?

I Thirst was largely inspired by my understanding of relationships. I think that every writer cannot help but be a psychologist and sociologist in disguise. In order to write a believable character, a writer must get inside that character's head, figure out why he thinks the way he does, and study his interactions with others. Luckily for me, I have always been fascinated by introspection---the workings of the mind and analysis thereof--- and human interactions. I tend to joke that I get a bit too analytical at times.

Yet, the most important influence on the relationships of I Thirst was not a psychological study, but my own personal experiences. I am the kind of person who feels things deeply (if, at times, quietly). In that regard, I could relate to the main character in my novel, Rebecca. A Jane Austen quote may serve to describe her quite well: "There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature." Rebecca goes through most of her life with the belief that everyone---aside from, you know, the average, cold-hearted psychopath ---cares as much as she does. She has a very loyal heart. I knew that, for the development of the character, she would have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone was like that after all. For a person like Rebecca, that is a shocking realization. Yet, it is equally important that she will find that she is not alone, that there are other "kindred spirits" of a like mind and heart. When painting the picture of these kindred spirits, I automatically drew from my own story. I have always been very close to my family and have been blessed with a remarkable group of truly unique and truly true friends. I couldn't help but be influenced by them as I wrote about the meaning of true friendship. They, in many ways, helped shape the fellow travelers that stand by Rebecca in her journey of life.

I was watching a clip from one of my favorite movies, Anne of Avonlea, on youtube this Valentine's Day. The main character is also a writer, and, in this particular scene, she brings news of publication to a loved one who is ill. It's a poignant moment that has always touched me, yet, that day, it affected me in a new way.

I could relate to Anne Shirley's ambitions before, but, this time, I knew what it was like to be published. But it wasn't just that. Anne tells her friend, "I brought you my book. I've been published, Gil. I wrote about Avonlea . . . just as you said I should." When I listened to her words, I realized that, now, I really knew what she meant.

My favorite genre in which to write has always been aligned with other worlds, and it is still a field in which I delight. That will never change. (In fact, I incorporated some of those elements so dear to me in a secondary story found in I Thirst.) Yet, through the primary interaction of I Thirst, I have come to know the secret joy that Anne had discovered that comes when writing of your own world.

Rebecca Veritas lives in a fictional suburb. Yet her world is much like the place in which I grew up. The story she told was a story, yet, as much as any piece may be deeply ingrained in the heart of its writer, this one was more closely knit than any story I had written before. I truly put my heart and soul into the book, and, by doing so, made myself more vulnerable than ever before. I almost didn't. I almost didn't even finish the book, even for myself. But I'm glad I did. I'm glad that I did because of those who accepted my vulnerability with open arms, who embraced my little story.

Little. Perhaps that is just it. The story never tried to be anything but little, and maybe, just maybe, its littleness meant something to someone in Denver, Colorado, someone in Alberta, Canada, someone far off in the Philippines. Whenever people address the book in a positive light, whenever people come to me and tell me that they appreciated I Thirst or thank me for writing it, I feel that I have done something right. Not because I am one of the greats, but because the story spoke to them in some way, in a way that perhaps was universal but uniquely their own all the same.

You see, I think every reader gets something different out of a book. I put out my story, but the readers made it their own.

So, to address the question posed, the book may have been influenced by my own perspective, but it became theirs.

How did Monet's past mold him into the gruff, yet lovable, man that we see in "Intermission"?

As hinted at in the book, Monet is actually his first name.  In fact, his parents named all of their children after the famous . . . and their last names, at that.  And it was fitting---the parents had pretty high expectations for their children.  Monet has a slightly younger brother named Mozart . . . and the two were very  competitive.  As one might have expected, this really set him up for his famous conflicts with Antonio.  The fact that Antonio was a musician only made the connection between the two rivals more concrete . . . and more vexing for Monet.  (His pride in everything 'French', while stemming from true nationalism, may have also increased as a result of the background of his brother's namesake.)

However, his 'gruffness' in general was also heightened by his personal struggles prior to working in the jam shop.  As mentioned in the novel, the economic problems of the time forced him to give up his career as a chef.  For anyone, this would have been difficult.  But, for Monet, it was a symbol of failure . . . and failure was not something that he had been raised to accept.

Monet also has a younger sister who may receive some credit for his soft side.  For some reason, the dominant attitude of the family did not affect "Earhart".  She brought everyone together, as much as possible, with her sweet, yet adventurous, spirit.  Monet was even known to spoil her from time to time (but don't tell him I said so!).   

Oh, and there was also a set of twins.  But that's another story altogether . . .   :) 

We know that Adriana picked chocolate raspberry frozen yogurt to 'torment' Rebecca in Chapter 4, but what flavors did the other girls select?

Rebecca decided upon Vanilla Bean . . . classic, calm, yet unique.  (If it weren't Lent, she might have instead picked Chocolate Mint, a less intense, almost light and airy, alternative to Adriana's choice.)  Chelsey would have picked something 'hip', but not too exotic (Remember her reaction to Goji fruit bars!) or, alternatively, too traditional.  In this case, it was CafĂ© Latte. 

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