I so love how the internet has made gathering friends so much easier. I'm thrilled that Sarah Tomp has agreed to visit with us today, in honor of the publication of her debut novel, My Best Everything. I know you will give her a warm Kirby's Lane welcome! And if you would like to follow her blog, Writing on the Sidewalk, (co-authored with Suzanne Santillan), click here. You might especially enjoy this older post on writer friends; I know I did.
I’m so pleased to be here today, Kirby. Although we’ve never met, I’ve read your blog for years—it’s a lovely place to spend time!
In keeping with the theme, let’s talk about literary friendships.
When I was a teen, my friends were the focus of my life. I loved them with the same intensity of any romantic relationship—often even more. Although romance tends to be a common staple in books for young adults, I think platonic friendships deserve attention and respect as well. A main character’s friends can add depth and layers to your story.
My debut novel, My Best Everything, has been called a “love story steeped in moonshine.” It’s a story about Lulu Mendez, who is desperate to escape her small Virginia hometown. When her father loses her college tuition, she cooks up a plan with her two best friends, Roni and Bucky, to illegally make and sell moonshine in order to pay her own way. It’s written as a letter to Mason—the boy who helps the plan actually work—although readers don’t know if the letter is an apology, a love letter, or a good-bye until the very end.
The developing love story between Lulu and Mason is an important part of the story, but so are the friendships!
The genesis of my title is Lulu talking about Roni. They’ve known each other forever, and work together in the local junkyard, but they are very different people with discordant hopes and dreams. Having graduated from high school, this may be their last summer together. Even though they are headed in opposite directions, they truly want the best for the other. They love each other enough to call each other out, and to fight and bicker along the way.
Friendship also develops between Bucky and Mason: there’s a definite bro-mance! And then, when Roni is at a low point, Mason is the one she goes to for needed help and support. It’s clear they have a friendship separate from Lulu and Bucky. All four characters are tightly enmeshed and invested in their relationships—and the trouble they’ve gotten into!
A few ways friendships can help tell a story:
- A friend—new or old—can be the catalyst for action.
- Friends are someone to talk to, and do things with.
- A friend shows your character is likable – even when they are going through a rough and potentially unlikable time.
- Friends provide backstory and history.
- If friends have their own simultaneous stories, even if they take place off the page, it adds depth and layers to the primary story.
- They can be good for measurement through comparison. How does your MC stack up against his/her best friend? How are they different?
- Friends can provide motivation.
- Friends can cause tension and stress—and can raise the stakes.
- Friends are something—someone—to lose or gain.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Kirby. I do hope we will meet some day!
Sarah Tomp is the author of My Best Everything (Little, Brown), a novel for young adults and a picture book, Red, White and Blue Good-bye (Walker and Co/Bloomsbury). She earned a MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches creative writing for UCSD Extension. She lives in San Diego with her family, but spent her teen years in the beautiful mountains of Virginia.