For me, when I’m writing, all kinds of outside influences come into play and find their way into the story I’m writing. Odd memories, places I’ve been, films and music all influence the book I’m plotting. In Select Few, looking back, these were my inspirations (and obsessions) while writing the sequel.
The San Francisco Bay Area
I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and, if Select is my love letter to Austin, Texas, the sequel is my love letter to California. I included the area where I grew up right by Stanford University, the bustle of Silicon Valley which has emerged in such a huge way since I was a child, as well as the coast where Julia goes to live in a cove (inspired by the amazing cove where a good friend lives, sans the spiritual community aspect). I’ll never forget my father’s story of driving as a young man from Buffalo, New York to San Francisco and how excited he was by the weather, the beauty and the freedom. I wanted Julia to have a huge dose of this feeling; for her it’s relief to leave Texas and all that happened there behind her.
Film and TV Influences: Bonnie and Clyde, The Getaway, West World
Since Julia travels with her best friend, Angus, who is wanted by the law, I immediately had Bonnie and Clyde and the Ali MacGraw/Steve McQueen film The Getaway in my head. I wanted Julia and Angus to be lost in America but also solid partners and a force to be reckoned with. Also, I was watching HBO’s West World at the time which kept playing in the back of my head: a weird blend of the West and a very unnatural, eerie, engineered world lying beneath the one we know.
Road Trip through the American West
The plan in book two was for Julia to move from Austin to the Bay Area and immediately, I knew she had to take a road trip. Loosely based on my own semi-recent road trip, Julia and Angus drive through Texas to New Mexico to Colorado to Utah to Nevada to California and experience iconic sights along the way. I wanted to put them out on the road—two incredibly privileged, sheltered kids who’ve been told they are better than the rest of the world—and then see how the experience changes them.
The One Percent
Both books have a fascination with the lives of the one percent and an unease about growing inequality. I wrote Select in a different political era. My plan for Julia’s extended family to have an exit plan came from a conversation with a friend who said, “You know Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg must have an escape plan if the world falls apart.” By the time I was writing Select Few, there were articles about billionaires’ doomsday plans: underground silos outfitted like condo complexes and homes with landing pads for private jets in New Zealand.
Long Distance Relationships
I love writing about falling in love but I also love writing about being pulled apart. The long-distance relationship is a killer and the difficulty and drama of one plays a big role in this story. Julia and John fall hard for each other in Select, but in Select Few, I wanted to hit on the difficulties of young love— any relationship really—and how it evolves past infatuation. In book two, an unexpected separation tests John and Julia and, from page one, it becomes clear that trust will be their issue. The sequel is about whether these two will be able to move from attraction to real love.