Want to know more about debut author Aggie Blum Thompson and her new book I Don’t Forgive You? Keep reading to see her answers to all of our burning questions!
What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you learn anything surprising?
I did quite a bit of research on social media and the dark underworld of fake accounts, hacking, and revenge porn – and it’s not pretty. It’s really the wild, wild West with no sheriff in sight. As I mention in my book, the number of fake Facebook accounts alone is startling. I put the number at 18 million in my book but it looks like I way underestimated. According to the New York Times, Facebook put the number of fake accounts it shut down for just one quarter of 2018 at 91 million. And as anyone who has been the victim of a fake account or revenge porn knows, scrubbing that information off the internet is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The laws on the books have simply not caught up to the technology.
What was the book that made you want to become a writer?
I was an avid reader as a child. I loved our weekly trips to the library, where I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry. My parents were very strict about TV and movies, but they put no limits on books. I wrote short stories and plays and poems from a very young age. One summer at camp, I had a wonderful counselor whom I had a massive crush on. She was just the coolest person ever. This was in the early eighties, and I would hang out in her bunk room and I started borrowing her books. She was gay, and she had a terrific collection of gay literature. She leant me Rubyfruit Jungle; I think I was eleven. But it was through her that I discovered Armistead Maupin and Tales of the City series, and I became obsessed with the whole series. I read and re-read every single one, and immediately set out to try and recreate that kind of comic, socially conscious, intertwined novel – only set in middle school on Long Island. My first draft was a big hit at school, until it was confiscated by Mr. Nagrowski in science class.
What are the characteristics of a great book to you?
It’s funny; I read across genres, and love non-fiction as much as fiction. All I ask is to be swept away – so caught up in the world of the book that it lingers in my mind even when I am away from it, like a spell. This can be the wry comedy of John Fante’s Ask the Dust, the deep emotional resonance of Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place or the sweeping descriptions that made me feel like I was experiencing the Dust Bowl first hand in the nonfiction The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. And thrillers and mysteries have the extra-bonus of giving my active brain a puzzle to gnaw on while I am being transported.
When writing a book, do you plan it out first or do you go with the flow?
A bit of both. Writers often describe themselves as “plotters” or “pantsers” – meaning they write by the seat of their pants. I consider myself a “plonster” in that I do need to have a sense of where the book will end up before I start writing, but I have no idea how I will get there. I liken it to driving cross-country, which I have done five times. You know you’re leaving New York, and that you’ll wind up in California – but other than that, you kind of let the road take you where it wants. Maybe you’ll get off the main highway to go see the world’s largest ball of twine (located in Cawker City, Kansas if you are curious) and maybe you’ll spend longer in Arches National Park than you had planned. But eventually you end up in the Golden State.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re not writing?
Either with friends — playing cards (Pitch or Euchre), listening to music, and sipping a gin and tonic – or in my garden. I am a passionate gardener and I have transformed the tiny little lawn in front of my suburban house into a fruit orchard and veggie plot. I grow figs, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, fennel, greens, squash, pumpkins – you name it! It’s my happy place where I get so absorbed in what I am doing that all my cares melt away.
Order a copy of I Don’t Forgive You—available now!