About the Book:
Title: BUT THEN I CAME BACK
Author: Estelle Laure
Pub. Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads
Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?
What gave you the idea for But Then I Came Back?
Well, I was working on a whole other book about love and romanticism and one of my best friends committed suicide. I continued trying to write the other book, but I was plagued by questions of life and death and why it is we persist in living when it’s so hard sometimes. I was constantly pondering my own passion for life and arguing both sides with myself. The other book just wasn’t coming together and I was destroyed so I wasn’t producing the way I wanted to be. I finally gave in and poured all my grief and confusion into this book. Yeah, you’re welcome.
What is Eden’s greatest strength and weakness?
I think her greatest strength is her openness to wisdom. She likes books and information and thinking about existential concepts. That makes her interesting to me and strong as a person because she can take things in and grow. Her weakness has to do with ignorance. She hasn’t lived much of a life. She hasn’t traveled or experienced much diversity or economic strife. She’s been mollycoddled by adoring parents. Except for a single experience of rejection, until her accident she’s been unchallenged which makes her unable to understand things in a real way which is why the whole thing is such a shock.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was six I used to write stories while we drove around in a VW bus. Over time I was around people who I thought were better and more creative than me and I dropped it, only picking it up again after I had my son. I don’t know what clicked, but I have written in some form or another every day since and I’m totally serious when I say if I never published again in my life I would write every day anyway.
What is your favorite book so far that you have read this year?
Like 2017? I really loved UNDERWATER by Marisa Reichart. Totally devastating and beautiful. I also read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and think pretty much anyone living in America should read it.
Can you tell us a little more about Joe from But Then I Came Back?
Joe is quiet, thoughtful, great with his hands. He doesn’t get sucked into normal guy games. He doesn’t like sports or video games and is used to hard work. He likes flowers and plants and cars. He is loyal, so loyal that the thought of falling in love while his friend is struggling between life and death feels like a betrayal. He takes things seriously but can be playful. He comes from a mixed background. He has seen strife and doesn’t trust the system. He doesn’t know if he believes in God. He can’t figure out how the world could be so cruel. He’s thin and cut from hard work and when he has kids he will make sure they’re cut and thin from hard work, too. He’s not going to be following any YouTubers any time soon.
Do any of the characters from But Then I Came Back have characteristics from people you know in real life?
Sure. Things always leak in there, but if I try to make them exactly like a real person it becomes limiting because I feel I need to protect them or do them justice and I always fail. Gigi is probably the most based on a real person. George was my grandmother’s best friend was from Martinique, a woman who read cards and talked to ghosts. Her apartment was full of owls and she seemed more in the spirit world than on earth. She was extremely feisty and I was totally fascinated as a little kid. When my father read this book he wrote back and said, “It was nice to see George again…I mean Gigi.”
Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.
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