"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Guest Post: Inspiration for LET'S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid (YA)

Good day my booknerd friends!
I am happy to share a wonderful guest post by debut author, Adi Alsaid... 

Today he shares with us his inspirations for writing Let's Get Lost and how Leila's story comes together through numerous characters across the country.

by Adi Alsaid
Expected release date: July 29th, 2014
Published by: Harlequin TEEN
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardcover, eBook


Five strangers. Countless adventures.
One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.


Inspiration for Let’s Get Lost

Whenever someone asks me where I get my ideas, I think of Emma Thompson’s character in Stranger Than Fiction. After Queen Latifah asks her how she came up with her writer’s block-busting breakthrough, she responds: “Like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method.”

Most of my inspiration—whether the founding idea for an entire book or a single line within that book—seems to happen that way. I don’t think a book can ever be borne out of one aha! moment, but dozens of them, some so small that you don’t really have time to go aha! or you’ll lose the inspiration forever.

This is particularly true of Let’s Get Lost, because the book is divided into five sections, each very different from the other. The novel tells the tale of Leila, an enigmatic girl that’s on a cross-country journey to go see the Northern Lights. But readers only get to meet Leila through the characters that she meets along the way. So every time we see her, she’s a player in someone else’s story. The inspiration, then, varied quite a bit from section to section.

At the beginning of the novel, I was focused on Hudson in Mississippi. Why he’s in Vicksburg, Mississippi and why he loves working at his dad’s mechanic shop, I don’t exactly know. That’s just what happened when I started writing. In the next section, we see Leila only through the eyes of Bree, a teenage girl who’s been hitchhiking for months. The reason why she’s been on the road for so long was more or less hashed out during outlining, but a lot of the details about her family that are central to her storyline only came once I was writing, and then seemingly out of thin air.

The orchid boutonniere (which, by the way, is one of the hardest words to spell, no matter how many times you use it) that Elliot wears to match the corsage of the girl he loves in the third section, or the way Sonia closes her eyes and listens to the murmurs of a restaurant crowd in the fourth section; I have no idea where these things came from. Lines of dialogue, character details, settings, rewrites that completely changed the tone for a character’s section; I don’t know how all these things happened.

Some of them come from little things I witness in day-to-day life, and my brain somehow morphs them to fit the story. Others I may have witnessed long ago and only my subconscious picks up on them, so I attribute the inspiration to nothing at all. Some were reactions to my editors’ notes, though I can’t quite point to how I came up with solutions (or how I executed the solutions my wonderful editors found for me). Some ideas came to me in the middle of the night, or at bars, which is strangely enough a place ideas are often found in, seedy characters that they are. Mostly, the book happened as I was sitting in front of my computer, just looking for the next sentence.

Sure, some of my own traveling helped inspire the story in a general sense. Leila’s especially, since she’s the one doing all the road tripping. But each of the characters’ stories is about something else—coming to terms with your future, living in the present, going after the one you love, recovering from loss—and each section had its own inspirations, large and small. Mostly small. Mostly later than some might think, when you’re rereading your draft, or editing for the millionth time.

Because if there is one method by which good writing happens, despite what Emma Thompson’s character may say about it, it is doing it constantly. To write until the inspiration comes. Usually, you won’t even notice it happening. As fellow author Victoria Schwab recently said on Twitter, “This is how books happen, not in some sweeping gesture, some miraculous event, but day by day by day by day by day.”


Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. 
He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. 
Let's Get Lost is his YA debut.

Thank you so very much, Adi, for taking the time to share with us today!!!

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