I sat down (well, I technically didn't sit with her but I really want to!) with Mia Siegert, debut author of Jerkbait. It's a YA LGBT hockey novel that follows two twins and the catastrophic events that occur when one attempts to commit suicide. It tackles so many great topics. Topics include but are not limited to suicide, sexuality, bullying, cyber-bullying, stranger danger online, sibling rivalry and first love. With strong character development and a great story line, this book is sure to amaze readers and encourage diverse books.
Check out my book review → here!
- From what I've read about you, you're not a twin. Correct me if I'm wrong! Because you aren't a twin, how were you able to translate the relationship of twins so well in the book? What kind of research was done? Being a twin myself, I definitely felt like we weren't being misrepresented and your descriptions about their behaviors were spot on!
You’re right—I’m not a twin! I was raised an only child although now I have two stepsisters.
I’m not sure about management, which probably sounds like a strange thing to say, but for me it’s natural. Maybe it’s because I went to Goddard College for grad school where we were encouraged to experiment and write fearlessly. And it might sound terrible, but I didn’t do as much research as one would think. I studied cryptophasia VERY closely and the twin telepathy for some ideas/initial drafts, but as it went on, I guess I thought of it more as this bond.
It helped that my editor McKelle George knows a LOT about big families, which was important to convey. We didn’t want twins to be a gimmick.
- Would you say you're more like Robbie or Tristan? Explain why.
The book started out as a semi-autobiographical novel where I was Tristan and Heather was my ex-best friend (scary thought, huh?). I see a lot of myself in Tristan with someone who is often overlooked and passive, doing what they can because others want them to do it, and sometimes making very questionable decisions.
However, now that the book is out of my hands, I’m seeing a LOT more of myself in Robbie. I was on an Olympic track for show jumping and competed in the low juniors (was just about to move to the highs/young riders/mini-grand prix when I lost my horse to a horrible colic). As my dream was shattered, I knew what it was like to be on the edge and remembered the end of my career. I remembered what it was like to always have the pressure cooker on, the isolation and loneliness. Although a different sport, I think anyone who’s a professional teen is on track.
- The book tackles a wide variety of topics that are usually shied away from in books, like suicide prevention, discovering your sexuality, bullying, sibling rivalry, and wow, even the dangers of talking to strangers online. Was it a challenge to incorporate all these sensitive topics and keep the book from being too overwhelming?
YA is very, very new to me. I studied (and exclusively wrote) literary fiction (in omniscient third person with experimental, lyrical prose) for years. My Goddard friends were stunned when I said I wrote a YA, and my new friends in the YA world didn’t believe me when I told them what I normally write.
With the type of literary fiction I wrote, I was very used to storytelling and far-reaching plots, so having the different branches was really natural for me. I never once considered that the story might have too many branches.
I think a lot of amazingly successful YA writers have more straightforward stories that are excellent. These are people who have studied their craft and honed in on it for years. I’m honestly a bit of an outsider, so I think I came into it probably breaking some of the rules because I didn’t know any better.
Also, I think it’s important to say, since it ties into my admission that it started as a semi-autobiographical novel, I actually dated someone I met from the internet who turned out to be an online predator, and now a convicted sex offender. That’s a terrifying after fact. I’m cautious about saying this because I don’t like people making assumptions.
- In the story, Tristan's parents expect him to love and worship the game of hockey when he clearly doesn't. His focus and passion lies in acting. This is common in society today where parents want their kids to succeed but don't think about what's in their child's best interests. What's your advice to people who have parents that aren't really on board with what they want to do?
Talk with your parents. It’s hard to do, but calmly explain that your passion is different than theirs and why you want to pursue it. They still might not be supportive, which really sucks, but having it out there will help. What also helps is speaking with a guidance counselor at your school (seriously, that’s their job—take them up on it). I also suggest that you work REALLY hard in school with your courses. That way, as an absolute worst case scenario, you have the option of going to a nice college where THERE you can pursue your passion.
I hope that’s a last resort though. I hope that initial talk with your parents works and that even if there are tears they realize what’s best for you might not be what their dream is.
- Not book related but which celebrity (existing) do you think should have a twin?
This is embarrassing to admit, but I actually don’t know a lot of celebrities because I don’t watch a lot of TV, or movies, or anything like that. If Idris Elba had a twin (does he?), who could act the same way he could, that would be really amazing!
Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and her BA from Montclair State University where she won Honorable Mention in the 2009 English Department Awards for fiction. Her debut JERKBAIT will be released May 2016 by Jolly Fish Press. Siegert has been published in Clapboard House, Word Riot, The Limn Literary & Arts Journal, as well as a few other small presses.
Siegert currently works as an adjunct professor and a costume designer. She enjoys training horses and watching hockey.
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