Bestselling Author of “If I Stay” Visits College of Staten Island

Lookout For Her New Novel “Leave Me”

By: Jennifer Weeks

New York Times bestselling author, Gayle Forman, visited the College of Staten Island on November 17 to host a panel for the discussion of her new novel “Leave Me.”

Gayle Forman, the award-winning author of young adult novels, is best known for her novel “If I Stay,” that became a movie adaptation in 2014.

Sponsored by the Hillel Club,  this was a clue event, which drew most students there. Other students appeared so they could meet one of their favorite authors and have their books signed.

When Forman walked into the room, the crowd roared with excitement.

She began the panel by discussing her newly released novel “Leave Me.” The book was released on September 6th of this year, through Algonquin Books. On Amazon, the novel received several titles and acknowledgments such as: #1 September Library Reads Selection,

September Indie Next Pick, Amazon Best Book of the Month and A People Pick.

This is Forman’s first adult-themed novel that focuses on motherhood and marriage.

The book is about every woman who’s fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention.

Maribeth Klein, a harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, doesn’t even realize she had a heart attack. Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. As in most cases, once we get where we’re going, we see our lives from a different perspective. She was far from the demands of her family and her career but with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth was able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Forman wanted to stray away from young adult novels and wanted to take a different approach, hence the genre being about revenge and fantasy, instead of what she’s usually known for.

She also wanted a novel based on part of her personal life. For instance, her mother had bypass surgery and Forman herself was having chest pains and saw a cardiologist about the problem. She wanted to write about the working mother because at one point, she was working three jobs while trying to mother her two children. The characters in the novel were based on some of her family members and friends as well.

Forman started writing very young and was inspired by these hiking trips she used to dread going on with her parents. On the hikes, she would make up these stories like she was a detective and her parents were Nazi spies.

“I began writing at the age of eight, and have been writing all my life,” said Forman in the discussion.

When she finished high school, she backpacked through Europe for three years and settled in Amsterdam. She decided to she wanted to go to college and almost went to school in Amsterdam.

Instead, she chose to attend Oregon University and was there for two semesters. She took a journalism class and loved it but she loved traveling and writing more.

“I really wanted to work for Sassy Magazine, but it was dying and I ended up working for Seventeen Magazine,” she said.

This led her to her going to NYC and becoming a journalist. She started out as a senior writer for Seventeen magazine. Every month, she wrote a new article and was traveling to various places for her stories.

Forman then switched to freelance writing and did some pieces for Elle, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.

From there she ventured off into novel writing, where she wrote “Sisters and Sanity” and the nonfiction novel “You Can’t Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World.” She also wrote a duology under the surname of Chloe Walsh.

“It never occurred to me I was going to be a novelist,” she said.

What made Forman a success in her career was her bestselling young adult novel, “If I Stay.”

When asked what gave her the inspiration for this, she responded: “I woke up one morning and saw this girl with dark hair and blue eyes, who played the cello.”

This novel changed her whole writing career. Because of it, she is able to quit her teaching job, writing and editing freelance, and become a full-time writer if she wanted to.

The novel was such a success, it won the 2009 NAIBA Book of the Year Award and won the 2010 Indie Choice Honor Award.

Eventually she wrote the sequel to continue the story and was eventually optioned for film and it hit theaters in 2014.

When asking her what was it liked to write the novel, she responded: “It was therapeutic, it was away for me to escape reality. This was a personal story. As well as close to my heart.”

Ms. Forman continued answering questions and giving advice to anyone looking to become a writer, whether its novel writing or journalism.

“I will continue writing, and sharing my work with others,” Ms. Forman said.

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