Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Publisher: Farrar, Strous & Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher || ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pullout off the highway, so maybe someone snatched him. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it may be true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.
Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy, Evidence of Things Not Seen by award-winning author Lindsey Lane explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.
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Inside the Author’s Head
Evidence of Things Not Seen has so much heart and mystery in the idea behind it. Can you first tell readers where the idea came from for the book?
I could write a whole essay answering this question. I’d title it: Dreams, Dishes and Three Writers. I’ll keep my response shorter but that title will give you a frame.
I woke up from a dream where I saw a boy standing in a pull-out by the side of the road. I remember asking, “What are you doing there?” And then just like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, he turned, walked across the pull out, away from me and disappeared between some bushes. I got up and started writing. I wrote into the world of that strange place by the side of the road. It seemed like the kind of place that people would come to for specific reasons and that lives could change in that place, even though, on the surface, it seems like a pretty mundane place.
You see, several years ago, I wrote a play called the Miracle Of Washing Dishes and I wove a thread through the play in which each character has epiphany around the simple act of washing dishes. It was based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh who believes that one can experience the miracle of being alive through the simplest tasks. I chose washing dishes. It worked then so I tried it again. Only this time, I used a place as the thread.
As for the writers, three books inspired the form of Evidence of Things Not Seen: Kathi Appelt’s Kissing Tennesee; An Na’s A step Toward Heaven and Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street. Kathi’s book is linked short stories around a middle school dance and gives you a glimpse into each character going to the prom. Both Na’s and Sandra’s books stunned me in their spare writing. So much is told with so little. Good writing that breaks form allows us to pad along behind and write the best stories we possible can with greater freedom.
This book on the surface is about a boy who disappears; but at closer look it is about the people around him and how their lives are entangled. What kind of research did you have to do to prepare yourself to write Evidence of Things Not Seen?
Hmmm, research is tricky for me. Because I write fiction, I usually do a lot of fact checking after I’ve drafted the story. If I wander off into too much research, I can get really bogged down in it and it takes me away from the character development. For instance with Evidence, I did do research about physics’ principles but I used secondary sources. I needed to stay with the voice of a sixteen year old totally tripped out by physics. I didn’t want him to sound like a professor. So I understood the theories pretty well but I treated them somewhat simply through a journal. When I was satisfied, I had readers’ who were savvy about physics check my facts to make sure I had conveyed the ideas correctly.
How did your studies and experiences in life help shape who you are as a writer?
I’m so glad you asked this question because I used to think my writing career was a bit haphazard but now I can see how writing plays gave me an ear for dialogue and pacing a story so that action and exposition move together seamlessly. Later my work as a journalist was critical to my ability for developing characters. I loved interviewing people and finding out their stories. I got very good at getting them to reveal themselves to me. Even when they didn’t want to. From those interviews, I became aware of the lies that certain characters told. Often times, when I uncover a character’s lie, I will find their emotional arc. Finally, picture books pared down my writing a lot and gave me a new respect for verbs. I like leaving space for the reader to enter in and make connections within the story.
Okay, so I always like to see what authors read. What are five of your favorite books and why?
Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty because it tells the truth about love and cruelty in the human heart.
Neil Gaiman’s The GraveYard Book I love Gaiman’s storytelling voice. Haunting and masterful.
Sherman Alexie’s True Story of a Part time Indian-The honesty of the voice. Also, when I finished this book, I thought, “Man, this is what books are meant to do: open up worlds.”
Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie. Again, India Opal’s voice and honesty and her clear beautiful emotional want makes you turn the page.
Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terebithia-Someday I may write a paper about how that book always makes me cry no matter how many times I read it.
Night owl or early bird? How does it help with your writing process?
Most reliably, the early morning hours are the most spacious and quietest times to write. I will often do a lot of drafting then because my critical mind is still snoozing. But you know what? I’ve discovered a little trick to create morning writing at all hours. I do a reset with a little nap or a shower. I find that those two things can recreate quiet and I can sit down for another couple of hours and work. Even late a night.
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
I knew I always wanted to be a writer. I thought writers were the smartest most magical people in the world. I could create whole worlds and explain how everything works. Yup. That seemed way better than being President of the United States.
If you could live in one ‘book world’ which one would it be and why?
Great question! Hard Question!
I’m going to have to go middle grade. Polly Horvath’s Everything on a Waffle. I love that town where everyone watches over you and no one calls the police. I love being by the ocean. I love the freedom and the safety of that world.
And finally, what other projects, if any, are you working on?
The working title is Inside the Notes. Here is the inciting incident: A young girl arrives in Boston. First time away from home. She is staying with a couple near the music conservatory where she is studying for four weeks. As she is unpacking, the clock radio in her room clicks on and she hears men’s voices reading poetry and letters. It is a prison radio show. The girl knows her father is in prison for killing her mother when she was two years old. It is the first time she has considered he might be real and have a voice. The journey begins.
About the Author
Award-winning author Lindsey Lane is proud to announce her debut YA novel EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers on September 16, 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an iTunes app, which Digital Storytime describes as “heartwarming and adorable with rich illustrations and lyrical text.” In 2010, Lindsey received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lindsey is a featured presenter at many schools where she gets kids (of all ages) excited about writing. When she is not writing, reading or being a mom, Lindsey loves sweating at Bikkram yoga, seeing movies and plays, and enjoying some of the outrageously good food at Austin restaurants with friends.
Connect with Lindsey
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:
September 16, 2014 – Good Books and Good Wine
September 17, 2014 – Gone With the Words
September 18, 2014 – Katie’s Book Blog
September 19, 2014 – Rather Be Reading
September 22, 2014 – Alexa Loves Books
September 23, 2014 – The Book Cellar
September 24, 2014 – Such a Novel Idea
September 25, 2014 – Pop Goes the Reader
September 26, 2014 – Tales of a Ravenous Reader