Today we are very excited to share a special interview with author Lin Thompson (The House that Whispers).
Read on to learn more about Lin, their book, and a giveaway!
Meet the Author: Lin Thompson
Lin Thompson (they/them) is a Lambda Literary Fellow of 2018. An earlier version of this novel was workshopped in Pitch Wars and it also received the Travis Parker Rushing Memorial Writing Award at Emerson College. Lin grew up in Kentucky but now lives in Iowa with their wife and cat.
About the Book: The House That Whispers
From the author of The Best Liars in Riverview comes a subtle exploration of gender identity, family, and the personal ghosts that haunt us all, perfect for fans of Kyle Lukoff and Ashley Herring Blake.
Eleven-year-old Simon and his siblings, Talia and Rose, are staying the week at Nanaleen’s century-old house. This time, though, it’s not their usual summer vacation trip. In fact, everything’s different. It’s fall, not summer. Mom and Dad are staying behind to have a “talk.” And Nanaleen’s house smells weird, plus she keeps forgetting things. And these aren’t the only things getting under Simon’s skin: He’s the only one who knows that his name is Simon, and that he and him pronouns are starting to feel right. But he’s not ready to add to the changes that are already in motion in his family.
To make matters worse, Simon keeps hearing a scratching in the walls, and shadows are beginning to build in the corners. He can’t shake the feeling that something is deeply wrong…and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it—which means launching a ghost hunt, with or without his sisters’ help. When Simon discovers the hidden story of his great-aunt Brie, he realizes that Brie’s life might hold answers to some of his worries. Is Brie’s ghost haunting the old O’Hagan house? And will Simon’s search for ghosts turn up more secrets than he ever expected?
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix! I had been brainstorming about my next middle-grade project, and I knew a bit about the main character and the internal story I wanted for him—but Hill House helped inspire the external story to go with it. One of the things I really love about that show is how character-focused it is, with all of the horror elements tied really closely to the characters’ emotional journeys. I started thinking about what it might look like to use some of those ingredients of a haunted house story to bring Simon’s inner journey out into the external plot.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Simon was so much fun to write. I really loved exploring his voice and getting to see his family through his eyes. He’s goofy and imaginative and feels all of his emotions really big, which was a fun challenge to try to translate onto the page.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Not a scene exactly, but one of the pieces of Simon’s story I really love is his description of gender euphoria early on. I loved getting to focus on the joy Simon feels in knowing who he is and exploring his own trans identity. So often, when we talk about trans experiences, we focus on gender dysphoria—on that sense of something being wrong. But not every trans person feels dysphoric or recognizes it as dysphoria until it’s gone! My own realization that I was trans came more from the rightness that I felt once I’d started giving myself permission to explore and experiment with my gender. It was such a beautiful thing to start truly seeing myself for the first time, and I loved getting to bring some of that trans joy into Simon’s character, too.
YABC: What came first, the concept, landscape, characters, or something else?
Simon’s character came first. I knew I wanted to write about a trans kid who knows who he is from the beginning of the story and finds a lot of joy in his own gender experience. The main character of my first book, The Best Liars in Riverview, spends the story very much in a place of questioning their identity—which has been a huge part of my own queer journey and felt really important to explore and show, but was also really emotional to write sometimes! As I started this new project, I knew that I wanted to explore a different journey with Simon, and that I wanted the reader to get to meet him with the name and pronouns he’s chosen for himself, even if he isn’t out to anyone else in his life yet.
YABC: If you could only write one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I’m pretty sure my answer to this question would just be whatever genre I’m currently writing in, haha. Because right now I’ve been working on a YA historical fantasy project, and I’m having an absolute blast, and there’s so much to dig into within our queer history that I could probably keep writing in this genre forever and be very, very happy.
YABC: How do you keep your ‘voice’ true to the age category you are writing within?
For me, it’s about trying to remember what it felt like to be that age, when you’re not a little kid anymore but you’re also not really a teenager, and trying to tap into that wide range of emotions I was feeling when I was a middle-grader myself.
YABC: What can readers expect to find in your books?
Lots of queer feelings and gender feelings. Family relationships, whether it’s the family you’re born into or the family you choose. Figuring out where you fit in the world. And usually with a little bit of a mystery mixed in.
YABC: What is your favorite snack when writing?
This is such a fun question and one I don’t have a good answer for! My ADHD meds really mess with my appetite—I have to set a daily alarm just to remind me to eat lunch, and I really don’t snack much during writing sessions these days. Occasionally though I’ll get out a big pile of M&Ms and then eat one every time I hit a benchmark, finish a paragraph, etc.
YABC: If you were able to meet them, would you be friends with your main character?
Sure, present-day me would be friends with Simon! But eleven-year-old me probably wouldn’t have been. I was extremely quiet when I was Simon’s age and probably would have found his energy a little overwhelming.
YABC: What’s your least favorite word or expression and why?
“Vacuum,” only because for the life of me I can’t remember how to spell it. And even when I get it right, it looks wrong.
YABC: What do you do when you procrastinate?
Usually draw, or make music, or bake (I call it procrastibaking). For this book, since Simon spends a lot of time playing Tetris on his mom’s old Gameboy, I got to procrastinate by playing Tetris and could pass it off as research.
YABC: What fandom would you write for if you had time?
I’m probably not deep enough in the fandom of it to pull it off, but Les Misérables. I’m still waiting for someone to write the queer adaptation of my dreams where Éponine and Cosette fall in love, and Marius is trans, and Jean Valjean becomes the adoptive father of all the queer students of Paris in 1832.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m brainstorming for another middle-grade project, but it’s in such early stages that I can’t say much about it yet! In the meantime, I’ve also been working on that YA historical fantasy I mentioned above. It’s a new age group for me and a totally different genre, of course, but it explores some of the same themes as my middle-grade books like queer identity, family secrets, and the power of found family.
YABC: What is your favorite holiday or tradition and why?
Halloween! The decorations are the best—I could decorate with fake skeletons and skulls all year round. As added bonuses, it’s also got scary movies, that beautiful fall weather, and an excuse to dress up!
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Thank you so much for these great questions!
Title: The House That Whispers
Author/Illustrator: Lin Thompson
Release Date: 2/28/2023
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
~ Giveaway Details ~
Two (2) winners will receive a copy of The House That Whispers (Lin Thompson) ~US Only!
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
4 thoughts on “Author Chat With Lin Thompson (THE HOUSE THAT WHISPERS), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only!”
This sounds great! I’d like to add more books like this with LGBTQIA+ representation to my school’s collection.
I would love to add this to my library!
As an ftM, I’d love to read a book about more folks like me.