Orsayor: First of all, I would love to thank you for giving readers an inside look into a beautiful crazed mind.
Caroline: And I would love to thank you right back.
Orsayor: What inspired you to write YOU?
Caroline: It was a perfect storm of life events and inspirations. I was back in LA, and I wanted to make a new imaginary friend, put him in New York because I never stop missing that city. I was watching Pitch Perfect over and over again and feeling guilty about, not in the guilty pleasure sense, but more like, dear self, stop dance-watching and start writing something.
I am so passionate about books, movies, and TV and YOU is clearly something of a love letter to some of my favorite works. Then, I had gone through a lot of turmoil over a couple of years, personal family issues, losses, and illnesses. And I wanted to create something fresh out of all that pain and empathy. And then, I am so inspired by our changing world, the way we make room for social media in our lives.
Also, I also wanted to climb inside of that can’t-live-without-it feeling of obsession. I wanted to show how funny and dark and sweet it is to be obsessed with someone.
I love obsession stories, from Adam Sandler’s Denise sketches on Saturday Night Love to the movie Obsession and the novel Misery. I wanted to make a mess and clean it up. The ending was very important to me, that sense of the store being clean, Joe ready to go again but also damaged.
Orsayor: How did you come up with the title?
Caroline: You is the most important word in the book. Joe stops feeling responsible for his own feelings the second he meets Beck. It becomes you walked in, and you could make me happy and you need to be mine. And I think that we could all be someone’s you and not know it. And then also, we talk so much about this being a narcissistic era of me-me-me centric living with iPhones and status updates.
I wanted to write a good old-fashioned story about a guy who is just not a part of that, he is a you guy, which sounds like it should be dreamy, right, this guy who is not so concerned with his image as he is with his ideal woman. But then, hell no, of course it’s not that simple.
Orsayor: Are the events based on someone you know, or events in your life?
Caroline: Like so many of us, I am really good at finding stuff on Google and digging through pictures on Facebook, and now I get to feel like some of my online missions can now be classified as “research” (haha). And then, I did work in a bookstore years ago, and while I worked there I read Lolita. I think some connection was made in my subconscious. This was before the Internet was such a part of our lives, and I had to write down the title of the book that the person was buying and the method of payment in a ledger.
This was time-consuming and allowed for a lot of awkward conversation with customers. But I never pursued any of the customers. But my God, there is nothing like working in a store alone, particularly the kind of store that’s designed for browsing, and someone comes in and it’s just you and that person. That dynamic is always intriguing to me.
Orsayor: I have a love hate love relationship with Joe – how do you feel about Joe?
Caroline: I love Joe. But he doesn’t make it easy! My mom is funny about reminding me that he kills people because, especially having just finished a draft of the sequel, I spend so much time in his shoes, I feel for him. He genuinely thinks he’s sparing people from pain on some level. And I love the way his mind works, the rationalizations, and the humor.
Orsayor: If you had to do it all again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Caroline: Nobody ever asked me that before! Wow, that’s a good question. I would like more Lynn and Chana. But I feel like I got to address this yearning in the second book where Joe socialize a lot, and it’s so enjoyable to put him in different social situations.
Orsayor: How does it feel to know Stephen King (The King of Literary) loves your book?
Caroline: It feels spectacular. Surreal. Dream come true. I was in a store in the mall when I found out from my cousin Julie. She texted me, I flipped out and ran out the store. And then a half hour later I went back to get my wallet, which I tossed on a pile of sweaters. It’s the greatest because I’m such a huge fan of his, my whole life, on so many levels. I love how prolific he is, the psychological depth of his stories and the mastery. I love his work so much, and I love the way he is in life, rooting for writers, for the Red Sox. So yep. IT FEELS ALL CAPS GOOD.
Orsayor: Since your upcoming novel is named Love, I have to ask – What feels like love to you?
Caroline: Another great question! Love feels like home, when all the many parts of you are working in all the right ways.
Orsayor: What can readers expect from your upcoming novel, LOVE?
Caroline: So much love! And hate. And the food. In the past, when a girl broke Joe’s heart, he killed her. But this time around, the girl escapes. And break-ups are devastating for all of us, but for Joe, who likes a clean break, a dead ex, he is in a whole new kind of hell, worried that he won’t have love until he finds this girl who broke his heart.
I hope reading LOVE will be like falling in love, where you don’t want it to stop and you can’t eat or sleep and then you feel so stimulated that you need to stop and breathe, or you will implode. And readers can expect to meet some special new characters. I wanted to challenge Joe, and I feel like this group of people, oh boy.
Joe in Los Angeles, you can expect him to have some issues with the people, the guacamole and the celebrity culture.
Book Referees: #1 Book of 2014 – YOU by Caroline Kepnes
(Orsayor’s Top Pick of 2014)
Caroline Kepnes grew up on saltwater, Sweet Valley High and Poltergeist. She loves to write fiction and she is grateful to be a fulltime author. She danced on Direct Effect on MTV and she has an extra bone in her right foot. She’s from Cape Cod and lives now in Los Angeles. GO RED SOX.
@CarolineKepnes on Twitter
Caroline Kepnes author page on Facebook
LOVE is out in September 2015.