Book Nerd Interview
Corrine Jackson lives in San Francisco, where she works at a top marketing agency managing campaigns for several Fortune 500 clients. She has bachelor and master degrees in English, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Visit her at CorrineJackson.com or on Twitter at @Cory_Jackson.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
In elementary school I used to write these terrible short stories on my mom’s typewriter. I loved the process and showing them to my teacher. Of course, the stories were about heavy topics that probably made my teacher wonder what the hell was happening in my home. I continued to write through junior high, high school, and college. I loved the idea of a career in writing, but I never seriously considered it. I’d had it drummed into my head that you needed a job that offered security and I didn’t really believe in myself. It wasn’t until 2008 that I began to rethink things. I love writing, so why not go for it? I’m so glad that I did, but I think it took the right idea coming along. I had to be passionate enough to want to overcome all those things I’d learned as a kid.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
· I am a total introvert who was voted “shyest” girl in my grade school. I was a quiet, reserved kid who didn’t talk much and didn’t trust many people. It wasn’t until I went back to grad school in my twenties that everything changed. I had always hid in class, but I decided that I would get the most out of the experience. I decided to raise my hand at least once in each class. It was scary and nerve-wracking, and I felt stupid every time I did it. Eventually, though, it became easier, and I began trying other things. Now, most people think I’m outgoing, but I still need a lot of time alone to recharge.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I hated my life at home so school was always an escape for me. I learned early on that education was going to be the way I could change my life and become the person I wanted to be. School and education basically opened up a new world for me. That sounds like something you’d read on a cheesy inspirational poster, but it’s the truth.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I’m a terrible speaker. When I had to read my work to a group of people, I would speed through it, talk too quietly, and my hands would shake. I always felt sick to my stomach, too. This summer, a couple of author friends gave me some wonderful advice on how to handle speaking, and it worked wonders. Now I feel like I can take charge of a reading and someday I’ll even enjoy the experience.
Can you tell us when you started If I Lie, how that came about?
· I began writing IF I LIE with the idea of a girl who was getting condemned for a secret she was keeping to protect someone she loved. I liked the idea of exploring honor and loyalty. I thought it would be a reimagining of The Scarlet Letter. Then, the story began to shift and change. My uncle had been hurt and I’d visited him at the VA Hospital. As a child and a teen, I’d watched another uncle struggle with the aftermath of two tours in Vietnam. My observations about both uncles stayed with me. Everything simmered and stewed for weeks before I knew what Quinn’s secret would be and what the story would be about. In the end, it all came together in a way that surprises me. I didn’t know I had this story in me, but I’m very proud of it.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Quinn?
Quinn changes and grows throughout the book. By the end of the novel, she’s not the same person because her experiences and beliefs have challenged her. Her loyalty didn’t surprise me, but her rage did. I knew she would be sad, but there are times (especially with her father) where her anger drives her to do something she normally wouldn’t have. She can be mean when she’s hurting, and I think that surprised me. It made her more human, but I hadn’t expected it.
If you could introduce Carey to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I honestly don’t have an answer for this. I wracked my brain, but I can’t think of anything. Do you have any ideas?
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?
Believe you can do great things right now. You don’t have to live for a someday, or the day you’re an adult to reach for things. I regret not taking chances more often as a teen, but I didn’t believe people would want to hear what I had to say.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I try not to lie. That’s so Pollyanna, but it’s true. Rather than lie, I’ll change the subject to avoid answering a question that would be safer answered with a lie. Maybe that’s more a lie of omission. People assume that I’ve read a ton of literary fiction, and I don’t correct them. I have read a lot of the classics in my MA and MFA studies, but I haven’t read a lot of contemporary fiction. I tried many times, but the books I picked up left me cold. So many modern novels take a dismal view on society and people, and I have no interest in reading books where the main takeaway is that life sucks. That’s why I turned to YA – there’s so much hope in YA books, and I relate to that.
What’s your most missed memory?
Hm…Something I miss? I miss summers as a kid. I’m a total workaholic, and my vacations are all spent working on writing projects. I don’t really get time off anymore. I really, really, really miss summer breaks when you had two months of free time ahead of you. I used to read three books a day over the summer with breaks for food and a little TV. Man, I miss having that much free time.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
I never had a summer job. At sixteen, I started working at Little Caesar’s Pizza, and I worked there until I was eighteen and leaving for college. I loved the perks of the free pizza, but I smelled like grease all the time. I wanted to burn my uniforms when I left.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My sister. She’s my best friend.
When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday. A soldier wrote me to tell me how reading IF I LIE had affected him. The letter was incredibly moving, and I felt honored that he’d written to me.
Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
I once dreamed that my brother had been killed. He wasn’t in a good place, and the dream was so real that I called to check on him when I woke up. Happily, he was fine and most likely my subconscious was just worrying about him.
Where can readers stalk you?
A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.
Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.
Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.
Corrine Jackson’s If I Lie is an intense and powerful story about hope and determination and finding the strength to go on. When Sophie Topher Quinn’s marine boyfriend, Carey, goes MIA, she feels broken and alone. But when she is caught kissing another guy, her small military town begins to scrutinize her because of her atrocious act. What the town does not know is that she did not cheat on her boyfriend. Although she knows she is innocent, she takes the fall because the truth would absolutely devastate Carey’s very foundation. To make things worse, Sophie’s actions is a reminder of what her own mother done years ago when she left her military husband for his brother. Living in a world of lies, Sophie must learn to cope with what has been presented to her but it seems like the truth will never be revealed.
Corrine does a wonderful job of creating such an emotionally-charged story. Although I have never experienced any of the things that happened to Sophie, Corrine’s amazing writing style allows for readers to fully understand and feel all of the emotions she goes through. I can only imagine the pain of having friends banning you or having a whole town turn its back. Perhaps the most compelling part of this book is the characters. Especially for the old veteran George. He becomes a father figure for Sophie and becomes a vital part of Sophie’s story as he surpasses all of the gossip tales about her and only sees Sophie for what and who she is. Although this amazing tale may follow the same paths as other stories but Corrine manages to pave her own unique path to give readers a remarkably, powerful, and inspiring story.