Friday, June 1, 2012

Trish Doller Interview

Something Like Normal totally rocked my socks, so I am super excited to have the very sweet and very awesome Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal, over for an interview on this here blog of mine!

Where did the idea for Something Like Normal come from?

Almost a decade ago, when I was working as a staff reporter for my local newspaper, I interviewed a Marine who was home on leave after being deployed to Iraq. It struck me how young he was, and how he'd seen and done things his high school friends would never experience. When I actually started writing what would become Something Like Normal, it was about a girl and Travis was meant to be her love interest. But the memory of that interview came back and I realized he was a far more compelling character. 

I loved that you tackled something I've never read in YA before: war from a Marine's point of view. Did you ever think that a book about a Marine would be to adult for young adult? Was your agent and/or editor worried about it or totally on board?

I did have a moment of worry that a 19-year-old Marine might not qualify as young adult, but coming home from Afghanistan throws Travis back into a world where he's sleeping in his childhood bed, hanging around with his former high school friends, and dealing with the same issues he's always had with his dad. So while he's grown up and gone off to fight a war, he's expected to just fit right back into the space he left. And I think that's very young adult fiction. As for my agent, it was never a question. I sent her the first few chapters to get her thoughts and she suggested we submit it to a few editors. 

While I was reading your book, one of the things that really stood out to me was how much you really seemed to know about what the Marines and the protocol for it, etc. Did you already know this info before writing SLN, or did you have to do a ton of research?

I did a staggering amount of research for Something Like Normal. I started by reading books about the war in Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder, boot camp...basically anything I thought I'd need to know about Marines. I watched movies (I highly recommend The Dry Land) and YouTube videos of Marines in combat; downloaded dozens of pictures; read internet articles about the Marines fighting in Helmand Province; and joined a message board, where Marines talked about everything--from dirty jokes to their experiences in war. Most of the videos, pictures, and articles were following a single battalion--the 3rd Battalion/6th Marines--during Operation Moshtarak, which was the assault on Marjah. Even though I didn't know any of the guys, I cried my eyes out when they came home. The best part of the research, though, was "meeting" one of the guys from that battalion through the message board. He answer questions for me about Afghanistan and when he went back on his second deployment, I sent him care packages.

Tell us something about you that's not on your "About The Author" page.

I have a weakness for guys who smuggle things on spaceships. Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds...this means you.

Coke or Pepsi?

I'm one of those weird people who likes both and alternates between them depending on my mood. But if I had to choose...Gah! Who knew this question could be so complicated?! I think...Coke. (I'm sorry, Pepsi.)

What's a book you wish got more attention?

I have a list of books I wish got more attention, but I think the one that stands out most in my mind is Blythe Woolston's The Freak Observer. She won the Morris Award for that book, but when the average shopper is going for the blockbusters, that brilliant little book gets overlooked and that's so wrong.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

You know how when you take a multiple choice exam you'll color in the bubble, change your mind, erase furiously, and color in a new bubble, only to find your first answer was correct? This. Don't spend too much time second guessing yourself. Trust your instincts.

Thank you so much for that great interview, Trish! I hope everyone enjoys reading your answers as much as I did.


  1. I really enjoyed this interview, Jess & Trish. I have heard only good things about SLN and I cannot wait to read it. I really love that Trish did so much research and that she sent her Marine friend care packages, I bet they were really appreciated.

    1. Thanks! This is one of my favorite reviews I've had on the blog, for sure. :)


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