Author Interview: Julia Day (The Possibility of Somewhere)

Julia Day

 "An engaging read...full of drama." 
School Library Journal 
Eden will lure readers with her willful refusal to allow poverty and hardship to define or limit her.” 

Publishers Weekly 

 In her contemporary YA debut, THE POSSIBILITY OF SOMEWHERE (St. Martin’s Griffin; September 6, 2016), Julia Day uses Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to frame a sweet story about two overachieving high school students who want more than their small hometown has to offer. Ash and Eden are fighting their parents’ expectations, their school social status, and each other for the valedictorian spot, but when they are forced to work on a class project together – something seems to change. 
Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted– he's admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There's only one obstacle in Ash's path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way? 
All Eden's ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college– and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks… When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream – one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds? 
With a cast of characters that feel very real, from an autistic four-year-old boy Eden babysits to the new girl in school who shakes things up, THE POSSIBLITY OF SOMEWHERE is a look back into the awkward period in high school when the future is in transit. A touching back to school read about first relationships, Day’s contemporary YA debut will have you falling in love. 

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JULIA DAY lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two twenty-something daughters and one geeky old husband. When she's not writing software or stories, Julia enjoys traveling with her family, watching dance reality shows on TV, and dreaming about which restaurant ought to get her business that night. 

Do you give your books their titles before or after they're written?
I often have a title picked out by the time the first two chapters of a manuscript are done. However, that wasn’t true with The Possibility of Somewhere. I wrote it under a working title. When St Martin’s acquired this book, my editor and I collaborated on what the title should be. She suggested The Possibility of *Something*, and I counter-suggested with Somewhere. We’re both really happy with the result.
I’m writing a second book for St Martin’s, set in a summer teen theater camp. I’m nearly done with the rough draft, and I still call it Untitled #2.

Which one do you prefer, writing books or software?
Writing software is easier. The rules are simple. I tell the software what to do, and it obeys. If I write anything wrong, the software tells me how to fix it. And when I’m done, everything works. It’s a great system.
Writing books is so much harder. I can follow the rules, and the story still won’t work. The characters do as they please, and the harder I try to fix the problems, they worse they get. But one of the best parts of writing is that I don’t have to do it alone. I have a wonderful editor and fabulous beta-readers. They often see what I’m missing. They’ll give the perfect piece of advice and, suddenly, the story is waiting there for me, wanting to be told.
I like writing software. I love writing books. 

Out of all the places you've traveled to, which one is your favorite?
I would have a hard time picking just one—so I’ll give three.
The hardest to get to but absolutely worth it: Antarctica. It took us half a day to fly to South America, and then a couple of days on a ship to get there. But I didn’t mind, because Antarctica was amazing. I could sit on a deck chair and stare at the ice floes and penguins for hours without getting bored.

Easy to get to and completely unexpected: Iceland. This country is only a five-hour flight from New York City—and so much fun when you get there (near midnight and the sun hasn’t set yet!). The landscape is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I can understand why so many movies are filmed there. The flat, barren lava fields are unique and eerie. I’m happy to say that there is also a capital city with exciting things to do and friendly people.

If you could only go to one of these places, though, it has to be: New Zealand. NZ has it all. Wonderful cities. Beautiful beaches. Breathtaking mountains surrounding gorgeous green valleys. All kinds of sports. Interesting culture. Kiwis are welcoming to visitors,  vigilant about the environment, and love showing off their country.
And there are sheep. Everywhere. They cross the roads whenever they want to, and it doesn’t matter if you were there first.

Do you have favorite characters from any of your works?
I’m not sure that I can pick my favorite, so I’ll choose the one who hurt the most to write. His name was Sean. The first thing I knew about him was that he had cancer, and that he wouldn’t survive it. It was really difficult to see this amazing character appear on the page and know he wouldn’t have a happy ending.

What is your favorite part about being an author?
Giving a voice to a character whose story deserves to be heard.

An Exercise in
My normal dress code was designed to keep me invisible,
but today I made an exception. I wore a teal shirt (stolen
from my dad) over jeans that had only been owned by me. I fi nished
off with my best sneakers, freshly bleached.
After yanking my hair into a ponytail, I grabbed my backpack,
charged out of my bedroom, and screeched to a halt in the
den. The trailer smelled like toast and bacon. Why?
I crossed to the table and stared down at the plate of food waiting
My stepmom came out of the kitchen, holding two mugs of
coffee. She offered one to me.
I took it as my backpack slid to the fl oor with a thud. “You
made me breakfast?”
She laughed. “I’ve done this before.”
“When I was nine, maybe.” The bacon looked like it had been
fried to crispy perfection. I parked my butt on the chair and
snagged a slice. “What’s the occasion?”
2 Julia Day
Her smile wobbled. “It’s the fi rst day of your last year of high
Oh, damn. She was going to get emotional on me. This day
must remind her that I’d be gone in a few months. It wouldn’t be
a good idea to act all happy about escaping town soon. Better
change the mood fast. “Breakfast is amazing. You can repeat it
whenever you want.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” She set her mug on the table and
pointed at my ponytail. “Can I do something special with your
Clearly she wanted to, so sure. “That’d be great.”
While I fi nished my toast, she twisted my hair into a thick
French braid. It took only a couple of minutes before she pressed
a kiss to the top of my head. “ There you are, sweetie. Now go on,
or you’ll miss the bus.”
“Okay.” I stood, gave her a quick hug, and slung my backpack
over one shoulder. “Thanks, Marnie. For every thing.”
The bus dropped us off fi fteen minutes early, something that
would never happen again. I went straight to my fi rst- period class.
AP En glish Lit with my favorite teacher.
“Morning, Ms. Barrie,” I said.
She didn’t look up from her computer. “Hello, Eden.”
I slipped into a desk in the back row and watched as my classmates
trickled in.
My next class would be statistics, although it had been a recent
change. I’d realized in middle school that college was my best
route out of Heron, and I wouldn’t get to college without serious
scholarships. So I’d mapped out my high school curriculum in
The Possibility of Somewhere 3
seventh grade, picking each course to maximize my GPA. Everything
had gone according to plan until three weeks ago, when
I’d switched to a dif fer ent math class and elective. The decision
had seemed bold at the time. Now, it felt crazy.
After English, I dropped by my locker and arrived late for
second period. With ner vous anticipation, I smiled at my statistics
teacher and turned toward the back.
“Wait, Eden. Sit there.” Mrs. Menzies gestured at an empty
seat on the front row.
I paused, looking from the desk to her. She eyed me steadily,
a challenge in her expression.
Did she expect me to argue with her? I certainly wanted to.
Swallowing hard, I took my seat.
“All right, every one. I’m glad that you’ve chosen to take
Advanced Placement Statistics . . .”
I tuned out what she said, too annoyed to listen to what ever
welcoming remarks she had for us. They would be on her syllabus
anyway. I was consumed with shrugging off how much it
bothered me to sit in the front with a dozen pairs of eyes behind
me. Were they watching me? Prob ably not, but I didn’t like that
it was a possibility.
Even deep breaths betrayed me, because they fi lled my head
with the soapy- clean, spicy- cologne scent of Ash Gupta. Why did
Mrs. Menzies have me sitting next to him?
“. . . you’ll have one group proj ect and one individual assignment
due each week . . .”
I glanced at her. Group proj ects already? Was that why we had
assigned seats?
“. . . that’s it for now. Form into your teams. I’ll hand out your
fi rst proj ect.”
4 Julia Day
The sounds of dragging chairs and laughing voices fi lled the
room. I checked around. Was I the only one who didn’t know what
to do?
Ash was looking at me, pained resignation on his face. “ You’re
with us, Eden.”
I dragged my desk into the circle beside him. There were fi ve
of us in the group. Upala and Dev were Ash’s friends. A built-in
alliance. They would vote as a bloc even if I could get the last
guy on my side.
The next few minutes blurred into the rhythms of a proj ect
team pretending to become cohesive. I didn’t join in, listening
instead to Ash control the discussion and watching as Mrs. Menzies
went from group to group, dropping off a large bag of M&Ms,
several paper bowls, and the proj ect sheet. When she fi nally
arrived at our circle, she described what she wanted and then gave
me a hard stare.
“I want collaboration from every one.”
Message received— although it was unnecessary. I participated
when it mattered. Reaching for the M&M bag, I fi lled a bowl and
began separating the candies by color. An exercise in probabilities.
“Before we go any further,” Ash was saying, “we should pick
a leader for the team. How do we want to choose?”
“Might as well cut the bullshit, Ash,” I said without looking
up. “You want the job. No one’s going to fi ght you. Just take it by
Silence greeted my speech. I glanced at him. His gaze held
mine for a second before he frowned at his notebook, picked up
a pen, and began drawing tiny perfect squares, one after the
other. I looked at the rest of the team. Upala and Dev glared at
me but didn’t disagree with my suggestion. Prob ably hated that

it had come from me, though.

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