Robin Talley - Author Picture

Robin Talley - Author

Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her fiancée, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice.

Below is a Q&A with this author.

What inspired you to write Lies We Tell Ourselves?
I came up with the idea for Lies We Tell Ourselves while on a road trip with my parents. They both grew up in Virginia and were teenagers when their schools were first integrated in the 1960s. We were talking about their school memories, and about their fears that their schools might be closed due to the crisis over integration. I hadn’t realized how real that fear was ― that Virginia’s governor really had closed schools to prevent them from integrating, sacrificing the educations of thousands of children in favour of a horrible, bigoted political agenda. I did more research on how it all happened, and as I read more about the details, I knew I wanted to write a story set against that backdrop. I wanted to explore what it would’ve been like to go through that. And I wanted to explore what it would’ve been like to be a gay teenager in 1959, keeping such an enormous secret in such intense circumstances.

What’s your favourite moment in the book?
There’s a lot of darkness in Lies We Tell Ourselves, but there’s a moment in chapter 19 when Sarah, the main character, finally gets a chance to shine ― to show everyone who she really is. It’s one of the few times in the book when she actually allows herself to smile a little. Every time I reread that passage, I feel a swell of pride for her.

Who is your favourite character?

Instead of going back I’d love to jump forward fifty years or so, to when we’ve achieved full equality for the LGBT community and come up with a plan to ensure that immigrants are treated fairly.

What was your favourite lesson at school?
I was a big nerd. I loved most of my classes, but English was always my favourite. Anything that involved reading!

If you could invite three people, dead or alive, to a dinner party...

“Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.” – Iris Murdoch

Love is recognizing that two very different people’s imperfections can combine to make a perfect, unified whole.

I’m still quite pleased with the A I got in my Psychology lecture sophomore year of college despite having a B-minus average for most of the semester. Staying up all night cramming before the final exam pays off, kids!

There are too many to list, but my perennial favourite young adult writer is E. Lockhart, author most recently of We Were Liars.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I usually write in a tiny windowless room in my house in Washington, D.C., with my cat curled up at my feet and my wife coming in to check on me every so often and make sure I haven’t died.

Some of my favourite recent films are The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Social Network, and Frozen. My favourite recent books include Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Make friends with other writers, especially writers who have the same goals you do. It’s crucial to have people you can confide in who understand what you’re going through. Writing is otherwise very, very lonely.

Actually, no ― I can’t write if there’s music playing. I’m too easily distracted! When I was writing Lies We Tell Ourselves, though, I listened to some music from the late 1950s, like Chuck Berry and Frankie Avalon, and I watched movies like Some Like It Hot and Imitation of Life to get a vibe for what the pop culture of the time was like.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Robin Talley

Reader ReviewedAs I Descended
Robin Talley
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | September 2016 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Deadly Ambition | Scheming with Spirits | Descent into Darkness Thrilling, chilling, supernaturally-charged retelling of Macbeth set in a prestigious southern state...
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: YA readers
Format: Paperback | Released 06/09/2016
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Reader ReviewedLies We Tell Ourselves
Robin Talley
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. October 2014 Debut of the Month Fascinating, commanding and stimulating; this work of fiction is steeped in the history of the American school integration struggle in the late 1950's. The author has clearly...
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: 13+ readers | YA readers
Format: Paperback | Released 03/10/2014
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