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If He Had Been With Me Tour: Interview

Thursday, April 4, 2013
Today, as a part of the If He Had Been With Me tour, I have for you an interview with author Laura Nowlin.

If He Had Been With Me
by Laura Nowlin

Paperback: 336 Pages
Publication: April 1, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire

If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

Interview with Laura Nowlin

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
As soon as I discovered novels in third grade I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I’ve never veered from that path. I graduated from Missouri State University in 2007 with a B.A. in Creative Writing, and since then I’ve been doing the whole struggling artist thing, which is a lot less fun than it sounds like, though I have no regrets. I’m so thrilled to finally be publishing a novel and I’m really grateful for the chance to spread the word about the book through your blog.

What about contemporary stories draws you to the genre?
I enjoy writing realistic contemporary because I personally find it to be more challenging than creating a false reality where I get to make all the rules. Having to ask myself “Is this realistic?” is more inspiring to me than saying “I want things to be this way so that’s just how it is.” I do not in any way mean to disparage other genres; there are some incredibly talented writers out there who do brilliant work outside the confines of reality.

Realism in stories is always important to me as a reader, no matter the genre, and I agree that realistic stories can be so very inspiring. When you first came up with the idea of If He Had Been With Me, what was your vision for the novel and how has it grown over time?
My original vision for If He had Been with Me was much more cruel; the separation between Autumn and Finny was going to run much deeper and never be repaired in any way. Luckily, the characters had their own ideas about that and I found myself being more generous than I expected.

I'm so glad that Autumn and Finny have the chance to rekindle their relationship. Autumn and Finny are childhood friends who have grown apart. What inspired you to write about this topic?
I wanted to write about this topic because it’s something everyone can relate to; it’s just a part of the process of growing and changing at a person. I still find it strange though that we can share a deep intimacy with another human, and then someday they can feel like a stranger. Sometimes I look at my loved ones and wonder if someday I will not really know who they are anymore.

Autumn likes to think of herself as an individual with unique qualities. Though she dresses the part, she suppresses her dreams for the sake of conforming to her group, especially, Jamie. She also does the same with her relationship with Finny. How did you go about portraying the conflict between who she wants to be and who she feels 'everyone' wants her to be?
I don’t think the topic of adolescence could be tackled without a theme of identity conflict. Teenagers are all trying to figure themselves out, and they’re having to do it on the very public stage we call high school. Autumn’s conflicts were easy to depict, because the story is from her point of view it was simply a matter of having her think one thing and then say and do another. The other teenage characters were more difficult, I’d have Autumn notice a variation in tone or an expression on someone’s face, and just hope that the readers would wonder what struggles were going on beneath the surface.

I love how it isn't just Autumn or her close friends that get a chance to show what's going on within them. I enjoyed getting to know other characters, even if it was just a little.

Thank you for interviewing!
Thanks so much for this chance to discuss my book with you!

About the Author

Laura's Website | Twitter
Laura Nowlin holds a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Missouri State University. Her short stories have appeared in The Moon City Review and STEM. In addition to being ambitious writer Laura is also an avid reader who believes that books allow her to live many lives in one lifetime. When she isn’t at home agonizing over her own novels, Laura works at the public library where the patrons give her plenty of inspiration for her writing. She lives in St. Louis with her musician husband, neurotic dog, and psychotic cat.
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