Author Chat with Jessie Ann Foley (You Know I'm No Good), Plus an Excerpt!
Today we're excited to chat with Jessie Ann Foley author of
You Know I'm No Good.
Read on for more about Jessie and her book, plus an excerpt!
Meet Jessie Ann Foley!
Meet You Know I'm No Good!
From Printz Honor winner and William C. Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley comes the story of one girl’s battle to define herself as something other than her reputation.
Mia is officially a Troubled Teen—she gets bad grades, drinks too much, and has probably gone too far with too many guys. But she doesn’t realize how out of control her parents think she is until they send her away to Red Oak Academy, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Minnesota.
While there, Mia starts confronting her painful past, and questions the purpose of Red Oak. After all, if the Red Oak girls were boys, they never would have been treated the way that they are. Amidst the revelations that cause her to question the way that society treats young women, circumstances outside of her control force Mia to discover what happens when she makes herself vulnerable enough to be truly seen by the rest of the world.
~ Author Chat ~
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book? I’ve been thinking about this story for many years, ever since one of my freshman students was taken from her bed in the middle of the night and sent away to a therapeutic boarding school for girls in the Arizona desert. At the time, I had never even heard of these kinds of schools; since then, I have learned a great deal about what’s sometimes called the Troubled Teen Industry. I used this research to create the fictional setting of Red Oak Academy.
- Who is your favorite character in the book? I love all the Red Oak girls, but Mia and Vera are my favorites!
- Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I don’t snack when I’m writing, because I’m always reading sentences aloud to myself and the chewing interferes with that J However, I always do have a large McDonald’s Diet Coke by my side.
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I had a wonderful writing teacher, Joe Meno, who taught me that the term “fiction” comes from the Latin word “fingere”, which means “to shape.” This sparked in me the understanding that revision is the most important aspect of writing. It’s only through constant reshaping via rewriting that a scattering of ideas can become a cohesive story or novel. And whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed about a new project, it also reminds me that writing fiction is not about starting from nothing, but about shaping the seeds of an idea that already exists inside you.
- What’s on your TBR pile?
I always have a huge and never-ending stack and I never get to everything, but here are a few that I’m really excited about: Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds; Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera; Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader by Vivian Gornick; The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante; Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, and Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour.
- What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
Some recent YA favorites are Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao, Parachutes by Kelly Yang, and Mayhem by Estelle Laure. In adult fiction, I loved Writers and Lovers by Lily King, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips, and Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas.
- What’s up next for you?
I just completed a draft of my first Middle Grade novel! It was a wonderful experience and I’m really excited about it.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I love both aspects! Drafting is more freeing, but revising is more satisfying. When you’re drafting, you can experiment, make mistakes, tap into your strongest emotions. Revision is about taking those messy ideas and shaping them into the most perfect sentences and story arc you can make.
- Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Moms Demand Action is a grassroots organization that fights for stronger laws and public safety measures to end the curse of gun violence in America. I also am a big fan of the Danny Did Foundation, which is an organization started in Chicago that works to prevent seizure-related deaths and to advance awareness of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).
Sometimes, when I’m feeling really low and I don’t know how to dig myself out of it, I tell myself there is no such thing as sadness or anger. For that matter, there’s also no such thing as happiness or even love. It’s all just chemical reactions. The firing of synapses, a shot of dopamine, a burst of serotonin, brain waves connecting with nerves. Say, for example, you are betrayed by your father. Or a couple of senior girls call you a whore on a school field trip. Or your stepmother skips your eighth grade graduation to go to her real daughters’ ballet recital. Or you find your mom’s autopsy report on some internet site for voyeuristic sickos. Any of these things might make you think you’re sad, hurting, brokenhearted. But I think it helps, in these moments, to remind yourself that you’re really nothing more than a biped, a lump of matter receiving chemical signals. You can choose to pay attention to these signals or not, just the same way you can choose to heed or ignore a walk signal or a stop sign.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking, though: if feelings and emotions and thoughts aren’t actually real, then what does that leave?
Action. Legs lifting, arms pumping, boots moving across snow.
Which is why I have decided to run away.
You Know I'm No Good
By: Jessie Ann Foley
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: October 13th, 2020