Write what you know

Author uses life experiences to inspire first novel

Author uses life experiences to inspire first novel

August 12, 2008|By EVA NIESSNER / Pulse Correspondent

For Carrie Jones, writing a novel called "Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend" comes from experience.

"My longtime high school boyfriend and I broke up when we went to college. We were still best friends and I still thought we'd end up marrying each other. Then I came home during break and he told me that he was gay," she writes in an e-mail interview.


But here's the silver lining to that cloud: Jones used that experience, along with her feelings on a local hate crime, to write her first novel.

"A girl had been harassed because her boyfriend came out. I couldn't understand it," she says of the hate crime and adding that writing the book helped her figure out how it could have happened.


The novel chronicles exactly that: High-schooler Belle's boyfriend comes "out." Granted, there's a lot more to the story than that, but once your boyfriend tells you he's gay, drama is pretty much bound to follow.

Jones says she was certain she was going to become a human rights attorney - and was also certain she didn't want to. But she knew she did enjoy writing and storytelling.

She had experience as an editor on a weekly paper in rural Maine, and would tell her daughter stories in the car to fend off boredom.

"Soon, it became really complex, so I started writing it down," Jones says. "Then I realized it was more fun (for me) to write a made-up story than to write about land use regulations at planning board meetings, so I applied to Vermont College's MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. The program accepted me. My first book was acquired a year later."

Because her books are all about the woes and triumphs of high school, she says she pulled from the drama from her own four years.

"There were always people threatening to blow-up the local Burger King or themselves because a guy broke up with them," she says. "I lived outside of the city and I didn't have a car, so I wandered around the woods a lot, tried to figure out if Bigfoot existed, how to make the world a better place, why God made pimples all that sort of normal stuff."

As for her life now, when Jones isn't busy writing, she's kayaking with friends, eating Skinny Cow fudge bars and is currently running for the state house in Maine - showing that politics and law remain an interest of hers.

Her advice for young writers is to make characters come alive. "If you say someone was hungry, it's not the same as that same character making a growling cat noise, rubbing her stomach and saying, 'I am so starved I could eat a ukulele.' Any character who would actually do that is obviously ridiculously hungry and a fan of stringed instruments. It's goofy, but much more telling than writing, 'Belle was hungry,'" she says.

Carrie Jones has another book currently out (no pun intended) about Belle and her friends, titled "Love (And other uses for Duct Tape)." Her newest novel, "Girl, Hero" will be available this month.

If you buy..

"Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend" (Flux, 288 pages) retails for $16.95 and is available online at and

For more information about author Carrie Jones, visit

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