aka Yes, That’s the Title of Ellen Degeneres’ Book
As both a reader and a writer, the question I’m most asked and want answered is, “Where do you get your ideas?” My inspiration comes from all over—movies, people, places, random thoughts…and eventually (hopefully!) those tiny bits of inspiration coalesce into a coherent story.
A Starting Point
In my mid-twenties, I moved to China to teach English for a year and a half, and I loved it. But it wasn’t easy. I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin when I arrived, knew not a soul, and spent my first months desperately lonely (and unexpectedly freezing). This was the inspiration for Olivia’s starting point in the book—she is in dire need of a friend, and because stories need conflict (and I looove conflict), I wanted to give her the last kind of friend she was looking for.
A Turning Point
Enter Jarek. The inspiration for Jarek came when watching the movie Argo. I kept wondering how Ben Affleck’s character could have a real life at home when he could never reveal who he truly was, when his job took him to places he couldn’t talk about, and he did things that “never happened.” I thought about how a guy who had so firmly embraced his solitude and his secrets would struggle with letting someone get close to him—and then I sent him to the most populous country in the world.
Point of View
Going the Distance is my first story told from two points of view, and I decided it was necessary to have both Olivia and Jarek’s perspectives given the weight of Jarek’s emotional arc. Over the course of the story, the guy who’s travelled the world but kept himself closed off from human connection goes on a very intense and essential internal journey, and without his POV it would be impossible to truly understand his experience.
This Point’s Debatable
All in all, Going the Distance was something of an experiment, kind of like an episode of Chopped. I opened the mystery basket and tried to figure out how to put these pieces together in a way that would make Ted Allen proud. I knew the world I was writing, knew first-hand the wide array of emotions one experiences when living abroad, but tragically, I don’t know what it’s like to meet a former interrogator and fall madly in love, so that part I made up.
Told You I Had One
And that’s my rambling explanation of how this book came to be. It’s something I knew, something I didn’t know, and something I wanted to know. And now you know. Thanks for reading!
Olivia Clarke’s fall from pretty, perfect, and popular happened in an instant. With her life in tatters, she impulsively accepts a teaching job in the small city of Lazhou, China. Three months in, she’s ready to admit she made a huge mistake. She doesn’t speak Mandarin, the teachers at her school refuse to include her in anything, and she spends her nights watching counterfeit DVDs in her twin bed. Alone.
Jarek McLean is a loner. He’s not looking for friends, and he’s definitely not looking for love. The former army interrogator now works as a carpenter for a small construction company rebuilding a travel office in Lazhou. When he meets Olivia he knows immediately she’s too wholesome to be his type, but when he discovers the pretty kindergarten teacher is hiding a secret, his inquisitive side rears its nosy head and demands answers.
Olivia isn’t interested in a one-sided interrogation, and makes her position clear: if Jarek wants to ask questions, he’ll have to answer some, too. Jarek’s never let anyone in—not into his apartment, not into his life, certainly not into his heart. But the closer he gets to Olivia, the more he falls for her, and suddenly the man who doesn’t do relationships finds himself in a most unexpected one. When he reluctantly admits that this could be love, he’s faced with the most terrifying question of all: What the hell does he do now?
Giveaway: Two winners will receive an e-book copy of Going the Distance. Comment to enter. Contest ends February 5 at 11:59PM EST.
Author Bio: Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She’s been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills—or terrifies—her as much as the blank page. She writes sizzling stories with strong characters, plenty of conflict, and lots of making up.
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