Author Interview: Jill Hathaway on Slide

Jill Hathaway‘s debut novel Slide came out earlier this year. This mystery with a hint of the supernatural and a dash of romance with some snark to taste blew me away.

Ms. Hathaway is here today to talk about her debut novel and answer some of my questions.

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell us a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Jill Hathaway (JH):  I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t really become serious about it until a few years ago during NaNoWriMo. I decided to take the leap and query agents. I didn’t land an agent with my first (terrible) book, but I had interest from several agents with Slide. That’s when I knew I was onto something good! :)

MP: What was the inspiration for Slide?

JH: I wanted my protagonist to find herself standing over a dead body with no idea of how she ended up there. From there, I came up with the mechanism for sliding, which is the process through which Vee gets into other people’s heads and sees the world through their eyes.

JH:  I did some research online, but the thing is… Vee isn’t really narcoleptic. That’s just her excuse for what’s happening to her. As I understand it, narcoleptics actually fall asleep for very brief periods of time, and it’s not really like what happens to Vee.

[MP: Interesting.]

MP: In addition to being a writer, you are a teacher. Did your own teaching experiences influence your vision for the high school in Slide or for the classroom scenes during the novel? 

Since I’m in the world of high school every day, I’m sure my experiences filtered into the book somewhat. I had a former student comment on the thermostat that wasn’t working because I’ve had the same problem in my classroom. :D

MP: Since Slide is essentially a mystery there is a necessary suspense throughout the story as clues are uncovered. As a writer, how did you go about pacing this aspect of the story and deciding what to reveal when?

JH:  When I wrote the rough draft, I just threw in a bunch of stuff I thought would be cool. But during the revision process, I really had to sort out which clues to put where and which red herrings to put in. I’m trying to be smarter about writing my next book and plan all the clues before I even start writing. ;)

MP: Rollins is Vee’s best friend. He also makes his own zine. According to your website bio you too made your own zines. Are Rollins’ zines similar to your own?

JH:  Ha, I think they are about as cynical as my zines were. Like Rollins, I was very idealistic and indignant of any perceived hypocrisy around me. I also included interviews with bands and awful poetry.

MP: Vee’s father often cooks for Vee and Mattie to offer comfort. All of the food described in the book sounded delicious. How did you decide which dishes would be significant to the Bell family?

JH:  Ha, I think I wrote about whatever I was hungry for at the time. So my longing for the foods probably came through in the writing.

MP: To feel closer to her mother Vee listens to her mother’s music from the 1990s. Nirvana, the Gin Blossoms, Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins are some of the bands you mention in the story. How did you decide what songs to include in the novel?

JH:  A lot of bloggers and reviewers have commented that I obviously used music that I enjoyed when I was a teen, and that is very true. I was into “alternative” rock, and the songs I mention in the book are the songs I rocked out to when I was sixteen. In that way, I kind of pictured myself as Vee’s mom. I wonder if someday my daughter will read the book and listen to the same songs and think of me the way Vee does (but hopefully I won’t be dead at that point :P).

MP: Do you have a playlist for Slide? If so, do any of the songs mentioned in the book feature on the playlist? 

JH: Yes, there’s a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam on the Slide playlist. “Glycerine” by Bush is another song I listened to when I was writing the scenes with Vee and Zane, but I don’t think I mentioned it anywhere in the book. (Hint: I listened to “Everlong” by Green Day a lot while writing the sequel, IMPOSTOR!)

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

JH: IMPOSTOR, the sequel to SLIDE, will come out in spring 2013. In the book, Vee starts blacking out and realizing she’s been doing strange, dangerous things while she was unconscious. She eventually realizes that someone’s been sliding into her and wonders if the other slider is using her to do their dirty work.

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

JH: Never ever ever ever ever give up.

Thanks again to Jill Hathaway for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find more information about her books on her website.

If you want to read more about Slide check out my review!

Slide: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Slide by Jill HathawaySylvia “Vee” Bell has passed out often enough in class for everyone to know she’s narcoleptic. What no one would believe is that Vee doesn’t just pass out during her episodes.

When Vee loses consciousness she can slide into someone else’s mind. Most of the time when Vee slides she discovers secrets she’d rather not know like seeing her sister, Mattie, cheating on a math test or watching a teacher sneak a drink before class.

When Vee slides late one night she sees something much worse: the murder of her sister’s best friend, Sophie. While everyone else believes that Sophie killed herself, Vee knows the truth. Even if she has no way to prove it.

As Vee learns more about her sliding and unearths secrets about her friends and family, she’ll have to try to stop the killer herself before they strike again in Slide (2012) by Jill Hathaway.

 Slide is Hathaway’s first novel.

In this sharp mystery with a sly supernatural twist, Hathaway introduces a heroine with equal parts candor and spunk. Vee’s narration is frank and unapologetic making her easy to identify with and even easier to love.

At a slim 256 pages, Slide is a finely tuned page-turner filled with unexpected surprises for Vee and readers alike. Vee’s father and sister are well-developed characters with their own flaws and, more troubling for Vee, their own secrets. Similarly Vee’s best friend Rollins is an admirable foil to Vee and adds another dimension to the story as he and Vee try to untangle their newly-complicated friendship.

While Vee works to use her sliding to uncover the killer, Vee also comes into her own as she learns more about how she slides as well as how to simply be herself. Slide finishes with an ending that is as shocking as it is satisfying. Hathaway skillfully completes most story threads while leaving room for future installments in what will hopefully be a long running series.

Possible Pairings: The Infinity of You & Me by J. Q. Coyle, The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, Clarity by Kim Harrington, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten

Check back June 1, 2012 to see my exclusive interview with the author!