Once in a while a book comes along that really piques my curiosity, and BORROWED by Lucia DiStefano is definitely one of those! Today, I’ve got the pleasure of sharing an interview with the author where she answers some of my questions about her super intriguing book! First, though, let’s talk about the book.
by Lucia DiStefano
Elephant Rock Books
Published November 1, 2018
Love, mystery, and danger collide in this new literary thriller with the dark heart of a Gillian Flynn novel and the lyrical prose of Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun.
A triumph of authenticity, grace, and nail-biting suspense, Lucia DiStefano’s ingenious debut is an unflinching, genre-bending page-turner.
As seventeen-year-old Linnea celebrates the first anniversary of her heart transplant, she can’t escape the feeling that the wires have been crossed. After a series of unsettling dreams, inked messages mysteriously appear on her body, and she starts to wonder if this new heart belongs to her at all.
In another Austin neighborhood, Maxine braces for a heartbreaking anniversary: her sister Harper’s death. Between raising her brothers and parenting her grief-stricken mother, Max is unable to ignore her guilty crush on Harper’s old flame or shake her lingering suspicion that her sister’s drowning wasn’t really an accident. With Harper as the sole connection, Linnea and Maxine are soon brought together in fantastic and terrifying ways as the shocking truth behind Harper’s death comes to light.
Q&A with Lucia DiStefano
I find that a story was often inspired by a question. Was there a question that inspired you to write BORROWED?
Absolutely! Many years ago, after standing in a post-office queue and watching a woman scribble a note on the palm of her hand, I asked myself, “What would it be like to find a message on your hand and have no memory of putting it there?”
Were there things about your favorite character which couldn’t be included in BORROWED?
I think my favorite character may be Leo, the wildly talented chef whose personal life is a hot mess (and that’s an understatement). I find him so brash and unpredictable and entertaining, and maybe he’s my favorite because he’s so unlike me in many ways. Regarding things about Leo that couldn’t be included: the full details of his many arrests, what his apartment looks like, who he hangs out with, and what he’s doing when he’s not in the restaurant kitchen. Some of those things may be hinted at in the book, but they couldn’t be included because Leo is a minor character, after all, and all that backstory wouldn’t serve the story at large. (But can you tell I think about them?)
Can you tell us a little bit about something you know about the story that the reader may not know? Kind of a behind-the-scenes look at a character’s backstory or something interesting about the setting that didn’t make it to the final version of BORROWED?
Linnea’s mother wanted a child but not a partner (she’d had several disastrous relationships in the past, including one with a man who hated kids), which is why she availed herself of IVF when she wanted to conceive. Although that fact of Linnea’s parentage is mentioned once in the final draft, I’d had much more about it in earlier drafts, including an unsuccessful attempt by Linnea to find the person who she believes passed on a faulty heart to her. Because those details felt interesting to me but did not move the story forward, I had to cut them.
Is there a scene or moment in BORROWED that really sticks with you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m thinking about the scene that I hadn’t wanted to write because I knew it would be so excruciating to write. In the draft I sent in to Elephant Rock Books’s Helen Sheehan YA Contest, I had only implied that this major event occurred; I hadn’t written any of it. But my brilliant, thoughtful editor Jotham Burrello asked me to consider writing it, and gave very compelling reasons for doing so. Once he laid out his logic, I knew the story would be stronger with that very difficult scene in there, and I knew I had to muster up my courage to write it. I was right: it was excruciating to write, but I am glad Jotham saw the need for it, and I am glad I worked myself up to writing it.
Where did your ideas for your antagonist come from?
Sometimes writing feels mysterious to me. Often I can track the origin of my ideas (as in the question that triggered one major idea behind the novel), but when it comes to the antagonist this time around, the line is blurry at best. I think the reason for this is that I wanted the girls to drive the story first and foremost, and so writing them felt like conscious work on my part. But what the antagonist said/did felt like “gifts” from the antagonist himself, clues and motivations he lobbed my way when I was trying to focus on the two main characters. I can’t describe the process where he’s involved more accurately than saying those ideas all came from him; I just accepted them gratefully.
What do you most hope that readers take away from BORROWED?
The thing I most hope readers take away from BORROWED is hope itself. Both of the protagonists have been through hell and back, and in each of those scenarios, many people might not get up again afterwards. And yet, both of these strong young women go on to engage with life, and to me, that’s the epitome of hope: accepting the reality of the darkest of situations, and yet believing the sun will shine again and therefore turning one’s face toward the sun.
What is one question about BORROWED you are often asked by readers?
Questions along the line of: “Are you a baker? The desserts you described sound delicious. Did you make them before you put them in the book?” And my answer: I’m an amateur baker at best (and I consistently fail at making my desserts pretty, so I doubt I’d make a good pastry chef). I may not have made everything Linnea makes in the novel, but I can (proudly) say that I’ve eaten it all. (Which is why I hear the treadmill calling…)
About Lucia DiStefano
A former high school English teacher, Lucia DiStefano currently works as an editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach. First-generation Sicilian-American and daughter of an olive farmer, she admits to having recurring pasta dreams. Hailing from central Connecticut, Lucia lives near Austin, Texas with her husband and an old bloodhound named Waffle.
Follow the Blog Tour for More
August 1: Cover reveal at YA Interrobang
September 4: Review at Alice Reeds
September 10: Author interview at Alice Reeds
September 24: Cover reveal at BubblersRead
October 8: Review at Liz Loves Books
October 15: Review at BubblersRead
October 17: Guest post at Liz Loves Books
October 22: Excerpt at YA Interrobang
October 25: Author interview at YA Outside the Lines
October 31: Author interview at Katya de Becerra: The Last Day of Normal
November 1: Giveaway and guest post at Carina’s Books
November 5: Author interview at BubblersRead
November 12: Author guest post at BubblersRead
November 14: Author interview at Cynsations
November 19: First impressions video with YouTuber BookRatMisty
November 20: First impressions on The Book Rat
November 20: Author interview at The Story Sanctuary – You are here!
December 5: Podcast Interview at The Writing Barn
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