I’ve got the lovely Jessica Verdi on the blog today to talk to us about her research process for The Summer I Wasn’t Me which has a premise involving a de-gaying camp. Also if you missed my review you can read it here – I really enjoyed this one!
Lexi has a secret…
Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.
You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.
The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.
Guest Post by Jessica Verdi
Research Process for The Summer I Wasn’t Me
Hi, Giselle! Thank you so much for having me on your blog and for the opportunity to talk a little bit about the research process for The Summer I Wasn’t Me!
This was a very research-heavy book, being that I personally have never been to a conversion camp. But because this world is so secretive, so purposefully hush-hush, there was only so much research I could do before hitting a brick wall. The things that go on at these camps are not only incredibly morally unethical, but emotionally (and often physically) abusive, and in many cases illegal. These kinds of programs have already been outlawed for youths in New Jersey and for all people, regardless of age, in California.
The bulk of my research consisted of doing a lot of technical research on so-called “reparative therapy” (the techniques and methods they use, the argument for the work, etc.), reading first hand accounts from people who have been to camps like these, and watching several documentaries. Every single “exercise” you see in the book came from research—I didn’t make any of that stuff up, including the horrifying events that happen (no spoilers!) in Chapter 29. In fact, one of the hardest parts of my research was watching YouTube videos of that very type of thing. It was extremely difficult to watch kids going through something like that, but I knew I owed it to the accuracy of the story to get every detail, even ones as awful as that, correct.
I was recently asked if I came across anything in my research that was just TOO much to put in the book, and I said no. Not that I didn’t come across some of the most terrible forms of abuse I’ve ever encountered, but I NEVER felt compelled to protect the people who run these programs, or downplay anything that happens there. This book was, from the beginning, going to be real and raw and honest—I’ve never had any interest in sugarcoating it.
The people in The Summer I Wasn’t Me of course are all fictional, and I made the physical setting up as well—the multiple cabin setup in the Virginia mountains felt right to me for the story, but I can’t be 100% sure of its accuracy. Basically after I did all the technical research, I let the characters and setting and story build up around it. It was interesting to be able to almost create a new world for this book, sort of like one would do when writing fantasy—the only difference being, sadly, these conversion programs are all too real.
About the Author
Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, and her dog. Visit her at www.jessicaverdi.com and follow her on Twitter @jessverdi.
Sourcebooks has generously offered one paperback copy of The Summer I Wasn’t Me for giveaway.
- Open to US and Canada
- Full contest terms and conditions found on Rafflecopter