Love and First Sight author Josh Sundquist talks about the challenges of writing his first novel and what aspects of his own life he brought to the table.
About ‘Love and First Sight’
On his first day at a new school, blind 16-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?
As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a charming, quiet girl named Cecily. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty — in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?
Interview with Josh Sundquist
Tell us five fun facts about yourself.
1. I once tried to dye my hair red with Kool-Aid. It was not visibly different afterward, but smelled strongly like fruit.
2. In high school I bought a “Five Day Perm” kit from Wal-Mart for my school’s “Crazy Hair Day.” It did not go away after five days. I had curly hair until I cut my hair six months later.
3. I had frosted tips many years after it stopped being cool.
4. I have one leg.
5. My hairline is receding. Most days I think I am more self-conscious about my missing hairs than I am about my missing leg. Which could mean I think about my hair too much or that I am pretty well-adjusted to being an amputee. Or both.
If you had to describe ‘Love and First Sight’ in 10 words or less, what would they be?
A blind guy is given sight. Also, there is love.
As a debut novelist, what have been some of the highlights of this experience for you, especially compared to your work on ‘We Should Hang Out Sometime’?
We Should Hang Out Sometime was a memoir. When you write a memoir you are in a sense selling your privacy. But when you write a novel, you are selling your imagination. Which seems more fun.
How has being on YouTube influenced the way you tackled this story?
The biggest influence is that my YouTube subscribers persuaded me to get really into Doctor Who. And my favorite story line of that series was when they meet Vincent van Gogh. So the gallery of van Gogh’s work that plays a major role in the story was a subtle shout-out to all the Whovians I know on the internet.
What were some of the biggest challenges you had to face while writing this book?
I was better at writing the sciency-stuff about how Will’s neurology changed as he adapted to sight than I was at writing, like, the story. Or especially the love story. (This should come as no surprise since my last book was literally a scientific investigation into why I had never found love.)
Did you draw on any experiences from your own life?
That I used to be a teenager with a disability was a useful framework in thinking about a character who is a teenager with a disability. Like, I’m cognizant of how strangers (or new friends) might interact with such a person. That said, my intention wasn’t so much to write a story that would change the way readers think about people who lack eyesight as it was to change the way readers think about their own eyesight and their relationship to the visual world.
What advice would you give to burgeoning writers?
Start a blog. It gives you practice writing for an audience, helps you understand what readers respond to, and builds an audience for your work. Seriously, this is very important. Don’t even read the last question of this interview. Please stop reading immediately and go start your blog.
What projects do you have next on your plate?
Following my own advice by starting a blog.
About the author
Josh Sundquist is a Paralympic ski racer, cancer survivor, YouTuber, motivational speaker, and Halloween enthusiast. Every Tuesday, Josh releases a new video to 200,000-plus subscribers on his YouTube channel. He is the author of We Should Hang Out Sometime and the bestselling Just Don’t Fall. As a motivational speaker, Josh speaks to schools, conventions, and corporations across the world. He’s best known on the internet for his one-legged Halloween costumes.