Hello, everyone! Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!
I’m so excited to share today’s post with you! I’ve had my eye on Finding Jake since I first read the synopsis in an article about must-read books of 2015. It sounds amazing! I don’t have a copy of the book yet, so I haven’t had a chance to read it, but I’ll definitely share my thoughts when I do!
I was able to ask the author, Bryan Reardon, a few questions, though. These are the questions that went through my head when I first read about the book, so I’m so excited to have had a chance to ask them! A big thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for the opportunity and to Bryan Reardon for answering my questions!
First, the synopsis.
A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does–and does not–know about his teenage son.
For sixteen years, Simon Connelly’s successful wife has gone to her law office each day, while he has stayed home to raise their children. Though Simon has loved taking care of Jake and Laney, it has cost him a part of himself, and has made him an anomaly in his pretty, suburban neighborhood–the only stay-at-home dad among a tight circle of mothers.
Shepherding them through childhood, the angst-ridden father has tried to do the best for the kids, even if he often second-guesses his choices. For sunny, outgoing Laney, it’s been easy. But quiet Jake has always preferred the company of his books or his sister to playdates and organized sports. Now that they are in high school, Simon should feel more relaxed, but he doesn’t. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines.
Then, on a warm November day, he receives a text: There has been a shooting at the high school.
Racing to the rendezvous point, Simon is forced to wait with scores of other anxious fathers and tearful mothers, overwhelmed by the disturbing questions running through his head. How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are reunited with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone. Laney has gone home with her mom. Jake is the only child missing.
As his worst nightmare unfolds, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for the mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought? Jake could not have done this–or could he?
As rumors begin to ricochet, amplified by an invasive media, Simon must find answers. But there is only one way to understand what has happened . . . he must find Jake.
A story of faith and conviction, strength and courage, love and doubt that is harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, Finding Jake asks us to consider how well we know ourselves . . . and those we love.
And now for the Q&A.
Where did the idea for the novel come from?
There are so many answers to this question. The idea probably started as soon as I left an office job to stay home with my six-month twins. Memories of those days fueled many of the scenes in the book. During that time, I read Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Although I never set out to write about a school shooting, when I sat down and started to piece this book together, that’s where my mind immediately went. Finally, I read Gone Girl. I started writing fiction as a hobby about fifteen years ago. About a decade ago, I got my first literary agent. Then, about six years ago, I wrote a book that looked like it was going to get a great publishing deal. That fell through and it broke my heart. I quit writing fiction until, in 2013, I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Something about that book inspired me to try again. I knew I wanted to write a story from the point-of-view of a stay-at-home dad (that was a lot of hyphens there!) and wanted to touch on the topics of introversion and snap judgment. That coupled with the influence Cullen’s book had on me led to Finding Jake.
Did you know what would happen in the novel as you wrote it?
Nope. I’m not an outliner. I ghostwrote nonfiction for a number of years before writing Finding Jake. I had to use outlines then, but I found they made my writing a little more stilted. So I tried to write this one without any. Instead, after each day’s writing, I would jot down a couple of sentences telling me where I wanted to go the next day. As the climax of the story began, I lost all sense of where it was going. The story just popped out, like I was living in those moments. I had other endings in mind, but I am happy with how it came out. As people have read it, though, they’ve shared some great ideas on how they thought it should end.
How much did the story change from what you originally had in mind as you wrote it?
Not as much as I would have thought. I did have other concepts for the ending but they were never really fleshed out. My editor, Lyssa, did an amazing job. She had me cut down the ending a good bit as, for some reason, I had about a third of the story take place after the climax. But she also took a couple of the characters, particularly Rachel and Simon, and made them so human. I learned so much during that process, particularly how the slightest of change can make an enormous outcome. One change, though, wasn’t necessarily about what I originally had in mind but was very noticeable. About two-thirds of the way through writing the first draft, I adopted a puppy. All the sudden, dogs started popping up all over the place in the book. Luckily they made it through the final edits, which made me happy.
I’m sure it’ll come as a shock that hearing about the dogs popping up all over in the book makes me even more excited to read it! 😉 Again, a big thanks to Bryan Reardon for answering my questions, and to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for the opportunity.
About Bryan Reardon
Bryan Reardon is a freelance writer specializing in medical communications. He co-wrote Ready, Set, Play with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth and Cruel Harvest. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the State of Delaware for over a decade, starting in the Office of the Governor. He holds a BA in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon.
Connect with Bryan on Facebook.
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