Jessie Ann Foley is the author of the new young adult novel You Know I'm No Good, which focuses on a teenage girl at a therapeutic boarding school. Foley's other books include Sorry for Your Loss. A former high school English teacher, she is based in Chicago.
Q: Did you know how your new novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I did not! I am definitely a "pantser," and don't plan or outline my books ahead of time, though I always do have vague ideas for certain scenes that I want to include.
This makes for very messy first drafts, lots of starting from scratch and revisions, but it's the only way that's ever worked for me. Part of the joy I get from writing is letting the story take me in whatever direction it wants to take me.
Q: Which authors do you especially admire?
A: In adult literature, I love Curtis Sittenfeld, Annie Proulx, Ottessa Moshfegh, Louise Erdrich, Anne Enright, Julia Phillips, Tommy Orange, Colm Toibin, and Rachel Kushner.
Two novels I really loved in the last year were Claire Lombardo's The Most Fun We Ever Had and Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age.
Some of my favorite YA authors are Jeff Zentner, Robin Benway, Jandy Nelson, Justin A. Reynolds, Brandy Colbert, Gillian French, Kendare Blake, and Courtney Summers. I read a lot :)
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm working on a lot of stuff at the moment. I just finished my first middle grade manuscript, and I'm so excited about it. I'm also playing around with another MG idea, and am working on a first draft of an adult novel.
I have a picture book, Agatha May and the Anglerfish, which I co-wrote with my SCUBA diver sister, coming out next year. And I'm working on a MG nonfiction book about dogs.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Of all the novels and stories I've written, You Know I’m No Good was far and away the hardest to write, because it required the most research.
I interviewed many girls who attended therapeutic boarding schools, and I even got to visit a school in remote northeastern Oklahoma. I reached out to over a dozen schools, but given the secretive nature of these schools, the location in Oklahoma was the only one that allowed me to visit.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb