Before I introduce Jackie and her wonderful YA debut, Truest, let me just say that I really, really loved this book when I read it back in June. You can also see her Debut Author’s Bash post here for more info. Truest is just a really special book, in large part due to the care she took with her characters. In the same way that Augustus Waters is an unforgettable character, so is Silas Hart, and so I asked Jackie to tell us a little bit more about him: where the idea from him came from, how he drove the story, and to share some fun extras from his POV (they’re password protected and only meant to be read AFTER you read Truest).
Following Jackie’s guest post, you’ll see all the details (and an excerpt! and a GIVEAWAY!) about Truest so you can run out and get it for yourself. :)
Jackie Lea Sommers on Silas Hart:
Silas Hart. He’s nerdy, gorgeous, funny, thoughtful, and aggravating– and he’s the cornerstone of Truest for me.
Let me back up.
As 2011 wound to its close, I had just started writing a new novel, one meant for an adult audience– though most of the books I was enjoying most were YA. When January 2012 arrived, so did The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I loved it. I bawled. Augustus Waters, the hero of the book, was such a perfect character that I scrapped my novel for adults (that had centered around an idea) and began a new novel– for teens, one that centered around characters. John Green and Augustus Waters had taught me that lesson, and it’s one I will never ever throw away.
So I started with Silas. I set out to create my seventeen-year-old self’s dream boy, and Silas absolutely met the mark for me.
Everything else– solipsism syndrome, the bell tower, the street dance, even the other characters– would come in time, but everything started with Silas. He was my book’s genesis and the foundation on which I built the novel. Someone asked me in an interview question, “How would the book be different without Silas?” and I answered, “It wouldn’t exist.”
I only hope that he’ll throw your heart wide open and make himself at home there, the way he has in mine.
Fun bonus: even though Silas was always my most important character, I somehow knew that the novel wouldn’t be from his perspective but from West’s. That said, I got curious enough to explore Silas’s point-of-view and so I re-wrote two critical scenes from Truest from Silas’s perspective so that readers could understand the other side of the story at those moments. If you’re interested, you can read them at www.truestnovel.tumblr.com. The password is the last word of Truest. It should go without saying that these are spoiler scenes and should only be read after reading the novel. I hope they are a fun treat for readers!
Genre:YA realistic contemporary
Published on September 1st, 2015
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
About the Author:
Jackie Lea Sommers lives and loves and writes in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize. She dislikes OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She likes book boyfriends, cranky teenagers, and Minnesota springs. Truest is her first novel.
Read below for an excerpt from Truest:
It didn’t take long to confirm that Silas was absolutely crazy.
One morning he showed up at my house wearing an honest-to-goodness windbreaker suit straight out of the nineties: purple, mint green, and what is best described as neon salmon. I curbed a grin while Silas gathered our detailing supplies from my garage. “What?” he deadpanned. “What are you staring at?”
“Your windbreaker is just so …”
“Fetching?” he interjected. “Voguish? Swanky?”
“Hot,” I said, playing along. “The nineties neon just exudes sex appeal.”
“Well, I thought so myself.”
And after the sun was high in the sky and the pavement was heating up, he took off the windsuit, revealing shorts and a New Moon T-shirt beneath, Edward Cullen’s pale face dramatically printed across the front. “Vader’s competition,” he said, shrugged, and started vacuuming the floors of the Corolla left in our care.
He also talked about the strangest things: “Can you ever really prove anything? How?” or “I read about this composer who said his abstract music went ‘to the brink’—that beyond it lay complete chaos. What would that look like? Complete chaos?” or “You know how in Shakespeare Romeo says, ‘Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized’? He’s talking about his name, but baptism’s bigger than that; it has to be. It’s about identity, and wonder, and favor, you know?” or “A group of moles is called a labor; a group of toads is called a knot. Who comes up with this stuff? It’s a bouquet of pheasants, a murder of crows, a storytelling of ravens, a lamentation of swans. A lamentation of swans, West!”
One morning I was late coming downstairs, and Shea got to Silas first. The two of them sat drinking orange juice on the front steps and discussing Shea’s question of whether fish have boobs. “I think,” Silas said, sounding like a scholar, “they do not, since they’re not mammals. But mermaids do, since they’re half-fish, half-mammal.”
“Mermaids aren’t real though,” Shea said, the tiniest bit of hope in his voice that Silas would prove him wrong.
“Who told you that?” said Silas sternly.
“You think they’re real?” Shea asked.
“I can’t be sure,” Silas said, “but I might have seen one when I used to live in Florida. Probably best not to jump to any conclusions either way.”
Behind me, Libby giggled. Silas glanced at us over his shoulder through the screen door and grinned. “Libby,” he said, “what do you say? Mermaids, real or not?”
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions either way,” my shy sister said, then turned bright red.
“Smart girl,” said Silas.
That afternoon, Silas and I sat in the backseat of a dusty Saturn, trading off the handheld vacuum as we talked—or rather, shouted—over its noise. I ran the hand-vac over the back of the driver’s seat, while Silas said, “I used to think I was the only one with a crush on Emily Dickinson until a couple years ago.”
“You have a crush on Emily Dickinson?”
“Did you just ‘durr’ me? Is that like a ‘duh’?”
He nodded as I handed him the Dirt Devil. “But then I read this book that says it’s a rite of passage for any thinking American man. And then I read a poem called ‘Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes.’”
Just the title made me blush; I averted my eyes to focus on the vacuum’s trajectory.
Silas, unruffled, sighed unhappily.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, frowning, chancing a glance at him.
“I finally made it into the backseat with a girl,” Silas cracked, looking hard at the Dirt Devil. “This is not all I was hoping it would be.”
I slugged him in the arm, and his wry smile gave way to laughter.