Jamie Scott is the pen name for Michele Gorman, who writes chick lit under her own name.
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1.What inspired you to write this book?
I very nearly was a girl from the North whose family moved to the South. My Dad’s job fell through, so we stayed in the Massachusetts town where I was raised, but I often wondered how I might be different if I’d grown up in the South. That idea, about being a fish out of water, is one that stuck with me, and has been the subject of several of my books. I also write chick lit under my own name (Michele Gorman), and my debut novel in that genre was about an American woman who moved to London, only to find that she had no idea how to live there.
2.How much of the book is realistic?
Hopefully all of it! I was a professional researcher for 13 years and I worked for over a year with the Georgia Historical Society so that the setting and events were accurate. The story is fictional though, so May and her family and friends came out of my head. I love historical fiction that I feel I learn something from, so I set out to create that kind of book.
3.What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
I think it was finding my writing voice, and ensuring it was a voice that suited the story. Little Sacrifices was only the second book I’d ever written, over a decade ago, so I was still very much finding my feet as a writer.
4.What books have most influenced your life most?
I don’t think books influence my life very much but there are some writers who have inspired me to write, like John Irving (for his characterization and wry humour), Maya Angelou (for the beauty of her writing) and James Baldwin (for his ability to write stories that stay with you).
5.How important is it for writers to raise social, racial, and political issues in youth literature?
I think that’s very much a personal decision for each writer to make. My chick lit books, for example, are meant to entertain, not to raise social issues. So I think there are many reasons for writers to write and that holds true for young adult fiction too. Kids are often a lot more perceptive than adults give them credit for, and their passion and belief in their ability to change the world means that they absorb ideas from everywhere. As writers we don’t have to put messages in books for young adults to hear them.
6.What kind of research did you do for this book?
As I mentioned, the lovely ladies at the Georgia Historical Society helped me make sure the book is as accurate as possible in terms of the setting and real-life events. I also called the Ku Klux Klan … yes really. I needed to know whether the Klan, who makes an appearance in Little Sacrifices, would really have done so. I was surprised to find that they have websites, with contact details and Heads of Communications. I interviewed a man, who politely answered all my questions. His answers made my skin crawl!
7.What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
I think I enjoyed writing the Epilogue best, because I was able to see what was in store for the characters for the rest of their lives. And I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen to them until I wrote that chapter! It was wonderful to be as surprised and satisfied as, hopefully, readers are with how everyone’s lives turned out.
8.Any new projects coming up soon?
I’ve got my chick lit hat on at the moment, and am writing the final book in a series (The first two books are Single in the City and Misfortune Cookie). That needs to be finished soon so that it can be published in time for Christmas (it’s a Christmas novella). I’ll publish one or two more books under the Jamie Scott name in the next year too.
9.If you could make a wish, what would it be?
My little sister is busily hatching my nephew so I’d wish that everyone stays happy and healthy.
10.What is the question that you wish interviewers would ask, and the answer to that question?
You could ask me what my favourite part of writing is. I’d say it’s the joy I get from spending months with my characters, who become like friends. They constantly surprise me, doing things I don’t expect. I’ve now talked to many writers who assure me this isn’t a sign of madness, but of having created fully-fledged well-rounded characters. They have minds of their own!