Don't Let Me Go
One. I lied. All that crap about me wanting you to go, about me needing to know who I am without you. Lies. Every stupid, lying word of it. I don’t want you to go. God, I don’t want you to go. And not only do I not need to know who I am without you, I couldn’t care less. There is no me without you. The yin and the yang. You, yin; me, yang. Adam and Nate. Two parts of a whole. Existing together in beautiful harmony. Without you, I’m just a broken piece.
Two. You had to know that.
Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of an underclassman who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
J.H. Trumble’s debut, DON’T LET ME GO, is a witty, beautifully written novel that is both a sweet story of love and long-distance relationships, and a timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools.
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Music plays an important role in Nate and Adam’s relationship. They fall in love over “Heart and Soul.” They hold each other close to Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.” They get playful with Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” And they say goodbye as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays in an endless loop in Nate’s head. Nate often turns to his guitar or to the piano to express his emotions as he does the evening of the Homecoming Dance when he plays Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah.” These songs and others are woven through the fabric of their story. But there are others that define them as characters—their love, their longing, and their hurt. These are those songs.
You can purchase the entire playlist on iTunes. Go to Ping and search J.H. Trumble.
Some Questions and Answers
1. Are there any autobiographical elements in DLMG?
Yes, absolutely, but not in the way you may think. There are many little things that I drew from my own life. The “Wichita Lineman” humming—a friend used to do that to me, knowing how much I hated that song. The Walk the Line movie poster in Nate’s room is on the wall in my son’s room. The grasshopper on the windshield incident—happened, but to me and my kids. No one actually wet their pants, though that has been known to happen too. I used to watch Family Affair as a kid, and that spanking episode is something that has stuck with me all these years. Sending a text to the wrong person. Done that. Looking through the telescope in Danial’s backyard is an echo of an astronomy class I took at Texas A&M years ago. I remember being surprised at seeing the rings around Saturn. Just little things.
2. Nate plays both guitar and piano. Do you play an instrument?
I own a piano. Does that count? Actually, I taught myself piano in elementary school, then took about four lessons, but didn’t like my teacher much. I bought an acoustic guitar and played around a bit, then sold it. I played flute from fifth grade through ninth. As an adult, as soon as I could afford one, I bought a piano. I’ve taken some lessons off and on since, but mostly, when the mood strikes me and when I have time, I just sit down and work on a piece until I have it. I do love piano. Not mastering it is perhaps my greatest regret. But I both envy and admire those who do play an instrument. I have pushed my own kids to get into music. They’ve tried piano, drums, and guitar. The only thing that has stuck is tuba and clarinet. Who am I to say what instrument they should love!
3. What role did music play in creating the storyline?
Music played a huge role. I’m always downloading songs to my iPod and burning them to CD’s to listen to in the car. I also take my iPod on walks and to the grocery store. Sometimes a song would suggest a plot point, but more often I’d come across a song that seemed to completely encapsulate something I’d already written. When I listen to the songs now they always invoke certain scenes for me. And I’m always finding new ones. It was difficult to pare down the Playlist.
4. Is it true that DLMG began as a NaNoWriMo novel?
That is true. It began there, but it certainly didn’t end there. In fact DLMG is actually two novels in one. The first novel, the backstory, was written in 22 days between two summer trips I’d planned with the kids. The second novel was originally a sequel and picked up the story the summer following Adam’s high school graduation. That first draft was complete in 30 days. The NaNoWriMo concept got my fingers moving, but long hours and hard work—mine, my agent’s, my editor’s—brought this novel together. As I’m writing this, it’s been almost two years since I wrote that first word, and I’m still tweaking the beast. I owe a lot to the people at NaNoWriMo. They did for me what no other book or magazine article on writing could do. They gave me permission to suck and they gave me a deadline. I fell in love with my characters, and now here I am.
5. Nate takes up blogging. Do you blog?
I actually started blogging in 2009 as a way to get familiar with the process. For about six months I posted two to three pieces a week—some unconventional book reviews, author interviews, aggregated stuff from other blogs, whatever interested me. It was great fun. And I’ve made some good friends through my blog. But the pressures of school and kids and editing has made it almost impossible to keep up. Still, I hope to get back to it soon.
6. I’ve heard that Nate’s assault is based on a real-life incident. Is this true?
Unfortunately, yes. There was an incident in my school district a number of years ago. The young man who was assaulted was not gay. He did, however, suffer a great deal more injury than Nate. The young man recovered physically (for the most part), but no one knew the depth of his anguish until he committed suicide just after graduation. His story is so tragic. He needed a hero, and he didn’t have one. I wanted Nate to have that hero.
7. Will there ever be a novel about Curtis and Luke?
I hope so. I've written it. I love their story just as much as I love Nate’s and Adam’s, and I can’t wait to share it. If it goes to publication, you’ll meet some new characters, and witness some new dynamics. You already know how they end up, but getting there is where the fun is.
I think the writing process is fascinating. It's different for everyone, and I know for me, at least, it's different from book to book. Don't Let Me Go is actually a combination of my first two books. The main story in the novel is book 2. The backflashes are from book 1. Combining the two books was quite a challenge. Since the story takes place over the course of a year and a half, I found it helpful during the revision phase to create calendars to make sure that everything that happened in the novel actually worked in time. It was important to me to anchor October 11, National Coming Out Day, on a Saturday to coincide with Nate's homecoming dance senior year. To get that date, I had to go all the way back to a 2007/2008 calendar (which I then pretended was 2009/2010, although any reference to years was later removed from the blog posts) or forward, if you prefer, to a 2035/2036 calendar. I thought you might be interested in having a look. I created the template myself in Excel, and then using a 2007/2008 yearly calendar online, completed the months I needed. There is a sample below. But if you're really motivated, you can look at each calendar page by clicking these links (organized chronologically)