In Conversation with Jude Sierra, author of A TINY PIECE OF SOMETHING GREATER // Virtual Book Tour

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Hi, beautiful people! Sil here. I'm excited to be part of this virtual book tour for A TINY PIECE OF SOMETHING GREATER by Jude Sierra. Jude is one of my favorite authors and I hope many people pick up Jude's books! This little interview here will give you a great view inside Jude's head and her characters. Hope you enjoy.

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018.

1. Tell us something no one else knows about your characters. 

Reid very badly does and has always wanted to go to college, but so deeply internalized this idea that he was too behind, too fucked up, and a general mess that it isn’t until he’s on the road to wellness that he realizes how easily story we tell ourselves is true (or that we think others have told us is true) can quickly become a fact. It’s a story he’s told himself and that others have told him so often, he won’t even begin to untangle how he really feels about it for a long time. 

I think we can tell from Tiny that Joaquim loves having younger divers in his classes. Where the boys are at the end of the book—happy, together, but unsure of where they will go next—is just the start of a turning point for Joaquim as he begins to evaluate the sustainability of his wandering and free spirited approach to the future. A part of this evaluation is the beginning of some serious thought about what he might want to do some day down the road—and although it’ll be a while before he really unlocks this, I can definitely tell you that working with children is a big part of it.   

2. Do you have pictures that you use for your characters? Can you share them with us? 

I do! I will say that Joaquim was so hard to find, I felt like there was a team of people trying to find the perfect J for us: eventually the wonderful Julian Winters and my fellow book blogger Annie found me the closest match. Joaquim has shorter hair but otherwise this particular male model is A+



Conversely, is so much this boy that I can’t even handle my feelings over how 100% Reid he is.


       

3. Did you learn anything from this book and what was it? 

I learned a lot about how far into painful emotions I’m willing to go, for one. Which sounds weird, but there were plenty of times when I felt like I was gutting myself writing Reid. But it felt really important and very true and necessary to making this book as realistic and honest as possible. 

I think I also learned more about my relationship with romantic gestures, oddly enough. Reid and Joaquim are by far the most romantic couple I’ve written: they do such lovely sweet things for each other and go on really romantic dates. I didn’t realize I’d never really explored that sort of dynamic in depth before and it was really fulfilling to write, once I let myself go there. In real life I’d be super uncomfortable with the level of romance these two share, because I have a very hard time expressing deep feelings in particular ways. I knew that this applied to me when it came to painful emotions, but hadn’t realized quite how much I protect myself from letting people in across the board. It’s a strange and interesting thing to learn about yourself when you write romance novels! 

4. What do you think makes your book stand out from the crowd? 

On a most basic level, I’ll say that I’ve never seen a book about a character with cyclothemia, although I’m sure they are out there. I’d never even heard of cyclothemia until I was over 30—having known about it I might have been saved or saved myself tremendous suffering in silence. 

Tiny is a love story, and I enjoyed writing it so much; but in some ways, it’s almost like this book is half a love story and half a coming of age. I read a lot of romance that broaches difficult topics, but I tried very, very hard to stay away from the idea that love would cure or fix Reid in any way. The love story enriches his life and Joaquim’s life, and Reid’s mental illness complicates their new relationship as they learn to communicate and navigate each other and their stories. I knew when writing Tiny that some parts of it would be hard enough to read that some people wouldn’t be able to pick it up or finish it. That’s a hard thing to come to terms with ahead of time. But by the same token, there was no other way for me to do justice by the story and the message and the characters. I needed this book to be its best, most honest self, both for myself and for readers.   

5. say it takes a community to write a book: tell us about the community that helped you with this book. 

I dedicated my book to a group of women who were instrumental in my wellness and recovery after I had a mental breakdown. For over a year, every week, our meetings were what I looked forward to, a touchstone for my wellness, a ballast. These women and the relationships we had made a huge difference in my ability to forgive myself. They helped me learn how to draw and stay true to boundaries I needed to create in toxic relationships. They helped me understand that my responsibility to my survival and happiness were of utmost importance in my life, and that if I found happiness, I would be my best self for my family and friends. A Tiny Piece of Something Greater would never have happened without them. I needed a certain perspective and distance from some topics in the book in order to get as close to them as I did (which probably makes no sense, but is true). They were a huge part of that journey for me. 

So far as the writing of the book goes, I was super indebted to my sensitivity readers—Taylor Brooke, Julian Winters and Min (from Min and her Books Blog)—who offered tremendous help and support in large part because they believed in me and the story. I had such personal and honest moments with all three about various aspects of the book that I couldn’t imagine this process without them. Annie, my co-book blogger read every sentence of this book from the first draft. She literally read along as I wrote it during NaNo. When you’re doubting if you can or should do a thing, it helps to have a cheerleader like Annie. I had other wonderful friends who shared stories with me, read snippets of difficult parts (I don’t want to name names if they don’t want them), who gave me feedback on if certain parts rang true, etc. Despite the fact that I wrote this from a POV within these experiences, in no way are my experiences monolithic. I’m super grateful to everyone who gave me feedback and cheered me on and supported this book as I wrote it.

Buy the book:

Special offer: the ebook will be 50% off on Kindle November 12-18.

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