Into YA with Chris Tebbetts
Today, Chris Tebbetts stops by the blog to talk about Me, Myself, and Him, his writing process, and transitioning through genres. I loved hearing about how the book came together and his thoughts on balancing a dual timeline story. If you haven't heard about the book yet, click here for more background information.
1. The story has a very intriguing premise. What was the spark?
First of all, I have to give a nod to the movie SLIDING DOORS, which was the first time I ever saw a story tackled in this way—following the main character through two different outcomes from the same incident. In the case of ME, MYSELF, AND HIM, that incident is something I drew from my own experience, a drug-fueled accident I had when I was nineteen. After that, the story explores what might have happened if my character lied about the accident, AND, it explores what might have happened if he got busted by his parents for it. As a storyteller, I love that kind of “what if?” thought experiment. It’s like brain candy for me, and the structure alone helped spark me along through the writing.
2. Was writing alternate timelines challenging? How did you balance keeping characters and plot points consistent while making them both fresh?
I tried to be as honest as I could to each of the different outcomes in the book. This was the first time I’ve ever written a novel without creating an outline first, and I think that allowed me to write both of those threads in an organic way that took on its own life and surprised me along the way. In other words, I let each half of the story find itself while I, as the author, acted as a kind of stage manager, making sure that I included enough information in both halves to let the reader see the bigger picture, even if my character couldn’t. I hope that puzzley quality comes across and is as much fun to read as it was to create!
3. Your bio mentions that you studied film in college and worked many jobs on the production side of theater. Did those experiences impact you as a writer in any significant way?
Definitely. When I’m writing a novel, I think very visually, and every scene is a theoretical piece of a movie or play for me. I think like a director about how to block the actors in relation to one another and the action; I think about where I’d put the camera if I had one (i.e., what do I want to show the reader?); about when to use a long shot (describe the setting); when to go in for a close up (get inside the character’s head), etc, etc. Thinking like this is one of my favorite parts of the process.
4. While humor is a common thread in all your work, this is your first YA and one of your books that’s not co-written. Does your process change when writing for different age groups or for different projects?
Yes and no. Yes, every project is different, and as they say, each story will tell you how to write it if you listen closely enough. But at the same time, there are certain truths about storytelling—creating a compelling problem for my characters; making sure that the pacing is good and doesn’t drag; finding a satisfying ending—that apply no matter what I’m writing. Bottom line, I try to approach every project armed with what I’ve learned so far but simultaneously open to letting the new story be whatever it wants to be.
5. Even though your book has just come out, I’m curious about what new projects you have coming soon?
I’m superstitious about saying too much about works in progress, but I will say that I like variety and aspire to create as many different kinds of stories as I can. The thing I’m writing right now is a funny—maybe even ridiculous (in a good way)—middle grade novel and a complete departure from ME, MYSELF, AND HIM. Beyond that, I’ve been collaborating with James Patterson for many years now, and we have a couple of books coming out in 2020: a middle grade short story collection, and an adult thriller, both of them with titles unannounced yet, but anyone who is interested can watch my website, christebbetts.com, for more news as we get closer to next year!
Books By This Author...
Me, Myself, and Him: Review Here
Links of Interest:
Please Send Help: Review Here
Queen Of Geeks: Review Here
Into YA with Sarah Lyu: Here
The Best Lies: Review Here