If I Stay author Gayle Forman will return in March 2018 with I Have Lost My Way, a novel borne out of the author’s own mental block.
It follows three teens who have all, as the title suggests, lost his or her own way and are in the midst of deep personal crises. Their paths collide one day in Central Park. Forman, who calls it “the hardest book I’ve ever written,” elaborates further on the characters and plot in the interview below. But before that, EW can exclusively reveal the cover for I Have Lost My Way, right here. The book hits shelves March 27, 2018, but is available for pre-order now.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What inspired this book?
GAYLE FORMAN: Umm, a midlife crisis? A nervous breakdown? Writer’s block? My last YA novel, I Was Here, was published in 2016 but I wrote it in 2012. In the intervening years, I’d tried, several times, to write a new YA novel but nothing felt urgent or authentic. I hit the wall on eight different novels. I’d start something and be all gung-ho but then I’d get deeper in (and in some cases, all the way in, with a draft) and lose faith. I became convinced I couldn’t write anymore. Which was terrifying on multiple levels: Writing is the thing I love, the thing I’ve always done, even before I knew I wanted to be a writer. It’s how I work things out. It’s also how I support my family. And something I’d assumed I’d be able to do for a while longer at least. But now I couldn’t. It was like I’d lost my way. That’s what I kept saying to myself. “I have lost my way,” and that brought me to Freya, who’d also lost her way, and then to Harun and Nathaniel. Each of their stories begins with that same line: “I have lost my way.”
Can you provide brief introductions for each of the narrators? (Do you have a personal favorite?)
Freya is a singer on the verge of fame when halfway through recording her breakout album, she loses her voice. If she can’t figure out what’s wrong soon, she will lose her career, her fans, and everything she’s sacrificed — or betrayed — so much for.
Harun is a heartbroken student on the verge of either committing to a lifelong lie or letting down his family, who mean the world to him. As for the love of his life, James, he’s not only let him down but betrayed him, and as a result, James has dumped him. Is there a way for Harun to be true to his family, to James, and himself?
Nathaniel has spent his life in a house on the edge of the woods, alone in a fellowship of two with his eccentric father. But now he has left home, arriving in New York City with a backpack, a secret, and nothing left to lose.
As for a favorite, hmmm. I identify with all of them. They each have me in them. Freya is the one who sparked the idea and got me out of my rut so I’m forever grateful to her. And Nathaniel breaks my heart and makes me want to just take care of him. But I think Harun is my favorite. The other two characters I had to figure out in the drafting but I knew Harun from the start. Which is ironic because, on the surface anyway, he’s probably the most different from me.
Last year, you published an adult novel, Leave Me. Why was it time for you to come back to YA?
It was never a matter of coming back to YA because I never left YA. Yes, I wrote a novel about adults but that wasn’t because I wanted to leave YA. I just wanted to write about marriage and motherhood and I couldn’t really do that with 18-year-old protagonists (at least not in the way I wanted to).
What’s the difference between writing for adults and writing YA? What are the pleasures and challenges of each?
The process of writing adult and YA are not that different. They present the same challenges of uncovering unruly characters, the same technical challenges of pacing, the same satisfaction of working it out and bringing your characters (and yourself) to new understanding. Whether I’m writing about 40-year-olds or teens, I’m really writing stories about me and for me.