Hypable speaks to All The Truth That’s In Me author Julie Berry about her new novel and the problems with historical fiction.
All The Truth That’s In Me is a fantastic, disturbing, and optimistic novel from author Julie Berry.
For our thoughts, you can read Hypable’s spoiler free review, where you have the chance to win an eBook of the recently released novel. The giveaway is open internationally.
All The Truth That’s In Me was released on 26 September in the Unites States and 1 October in Australia.
Julie Berry is the author of The Amaranth Enchantment and Secondhand Charm. All The Truth That’s In Me is her first Young Adult novel.
Author interview: Julie Berry
In ‘All The Truth That’s In Me’, you seem to be intentionally avoiding giving the reader any indication of the exact place or time when the story takes place. Why was it important for you to separate the story in this way?
I felt that by blurring the lens on the factual specifics of Judith’s place and time, I could fill the novel’s frame entirely with Judith: her longing, her anguish, her resolve. This was her story, and I didn’t want questions about dates, places, or notable figures from the past to obscure her drama even slightly.
We refer sometimes to a book as a contract with the reader which an author must honor. Historical fiction adds a few extra clauses to that contract which I wasn’t interested in signing, this time. For other projects, though, I absolutely would – including one I’m working on right now.
Judith’s slow development of speech seems very realistic to a reader – did you do extra research into speech therapy or a similar area to achieve this realism?
I did consult informally with a friend of mine who is a practicing speech therapist when I was writing this book, but mainly I spent a lot of time attempting to talk as Judith would have talked by imagining my tongue to be inert and non-existent.
One thing I learned from this practice is that it would have been very uncomfortable to stretch one’s lower tongue so as to use it to make sounds that require a full tongue. And it would be an act of great courage to speak out without fear when one’s sound could never be quite right.
Tell us about your choice in writing style – why an internal monologue written almost as a confession from Judith to Lucas?
The whole project began as an experiment to see if I could write a novel, or even a bit of one, in second person. As it turns out, what my experiment produced wasn’t technically second person, but I found something that profoundly interested me in the voice of this character who had so much to tell one boy, but couldn’t.It kept on working so I kept on writing.
Did you try writing the story in any other style or from a different perspective, or did you know it was always going to be structured this way?
The way it appears now is the only way I ever attempted it. With other projects I have often experimented with shifts in narrator, tense, or point of view, but Judith’s voice was so sure of itself that I never deviated from it.
‘All The Truth That’s In Me’ deals with some very confronting issues, for any reader (young or old). Were you hesitant or worried about this book being marketed as a Young Adult novel – did you think the subject matter might alienate the readership?
The fuzzy boundary lines between different readership ages have always puzzled me, so these days I just write what comes, and assume I can fix the mess later with an editor’s help. I have to trust that if a story is strong, it can find its readership, and good editors can steer me well.
With All The Truth That’s In Me, any time I paused to wonder how the market would respond to its subject matter, I tended to grow anxious and doubtful. So I tried not to think about it at all.
This book is unlike anything else I have ever read, so I’m curious what your inspiration was when writing it. Were you influenced by any particular authors, or books?
I knew some loose comparison to The Scarlet Letter would be likely, and as the story progressed I realized readers might compare the story to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, but it had been years since I’d read the latter, and decades since I’d read the former.
The only thing I can confidently say inspired the book was Judith herself. I stumbled upon her by accident, and what a happy accident that was for me.
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
Six hours, give or take, transported completely out of their own lives and into Judith’s. That’s what I hope readers take away. I got to spend months being Judith, and I’m so glad. I always want readers to lose themselves completely in a story and feel something, whatever the book invites them to feel. That experience is the best takeaway any book can offer.
Can you give us a recommendation of a Young Adult novel that you have read recently?
I’m right in the middle of Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief right now. I know; I’m the last one on the planet to read it. It’s magnificent. But you already knew that.