Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Q&A with Deborah Crossland


Photo by Heather Jean Photography



Deborah Crossland is the author of the new young adult novel The Quiet Part Out Loud. She teaches English and mythology, and she lives in Northern California.


Q: What inspired you to write The Quiet Part Out Loud, and how did you create your characters Mia and Alfie?


A: During the pandemic, I kept hearing a song called “If the World Was Ending, You’d Come Over, Right?” by JP Saxe and Julia Michaels, and I couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who broke up but still loved each other enough to want to spend their last hours on Earth together.


I couldn’t get over how people behave when they let their egos control their hearts, and I became obsessed with the idea of what love would look like if ego wasn’t in the picture.


I think I created Mia first, because I knew she was going to be the one who would have the harder time removing her pride from her desire to love and be loved. I used a lot of my own feelings from when I was a teen because I remember how big and complicated everything felt at that age.


For Alfie, I knew I wanted a big cinnamon roll kind of character, so I cherry picked all the best character traits and fun things from some of the boys I dated as a teen and young adult (the hand-drawn sheep are real!).

Q: How would you describe the dynamic between the two of them?


A: Absolutely electric! Mia is drawn to Alfie’s ability to show love freely because he’s been surrounded by it his entire life. She’s almost like a moth to a flame except, unlike the moth, she knows she can be burned, and it terrifies her. And Alfie is such a romantic, he loves the Mia underneath her hard shell, the person she becomes when it’s just them.


The hard part is that they are both so young and lack the ability to understand all their emotions, so of course it takes a literal earthquake for them to realize how deep their connection goes.


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: I came up with the title when I was about halfway through the first draft, and it felt like it captured the essence of what was going on inside Mia.


Earthquakes have been known to unearth some interesting things once the ground stops shaking, and that’s what the title means to me. All of Mia’s true feelings bubble up to the surface as she experiences her own tectonic shift, and she can no longer stifle her truth.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, “The fully realized, intersectionally diverse supporting cast and fervent discussions about religion imbue this surreal-feeling character study with intensity.” What do you think of that description?


A: Oh gosh, I just love that. I very much wanted the cast of characters to accurately reflect the regions where the story takes place, and I’m so happy Publishers Weekly recognizes that. With diversity comes different belief systems, and I wanted to make sure I did them justice.


Most importantly, I wanted to show what I learned as a mythologist, and that’s all religions, at their core, believe the same thing. To have my attempt at showing that recognized means the world!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a YA where a high school senior’s life is forever changed after an accident takes her boyfriend and her memory. It’s inspired by the Psyche and Eros myth just as The Quiet Part Out Loud is inspired by Orpheus and Eurydice.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just that I’m very appreciative of you taking the time to talk about my book. Thank you for having me!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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