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Sally Thorne on Channeling Her Inner Bad Girl and Surprising Herself
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2019

If you read Sally Thorne's bestselling first novel The Hating Game when it came out in 2016, you’ve waited a long two years for her return… and your wait is finally over! Just released this month, 99 Percent Mine tells the story of Darcy Barrett, our feisty young heroine who’s at odds with her twin brother, Jamie, about the house they inherited from their late grandmother. Jamie’s firm on selling, so he enlists his best friend Tom to renovate. Tom's not just handy - he also happens to be the object of Darcy’s affection since childhood, and having this heartthrob at the center of her family drama makes it all the more complicated.

"I describe 99 Percent Mine as The Hating Game's sexy, rebellious older sister," says author Sally Thorne of her latest contemporary romance in an interview with GoodReads.

Here we dive into what inspired Thorne’s latest novel, we gain insight on her character development and process, and more.

On Inspiration for Her Novel

Thorne drew inspiration for this storyline from her own family, pairing beloved family tales with some of the latest happenings in her family’s life.

“I love the brother's best friend trope, so I knew I wanted to start there. I knew I wanted to write a pair of twins (a girl and a boy) because my mother is a twin and I grew up crying with laughter over tales of the things she and her twin brother would get up to,” she says. “My final inspiration was that my parents began renovating an old seaside house that means an awful lot to our family, so I set the story in an old cottage with vast sentimental value that needs an urgent restoration.”

On Writing a Badass Heroine

Darcy’s character is full of wit and sass, and can be quite the “alpha" at times. But this novel’s heroine is a far cry from Lucy, the sweet main character who stole our hearts in Thorne’s first novel. Why the extreme change? It turns out that Thorne has been itching to channel her inner bad girl for years now, and Darcy was just the character for the job.

“I am a dorky sweetheart,” she confides. “I am good at writing dorky sweethearts (case in point: Lucy Hutton from The Hating Game). I should also own up at this point that I want to be Bad Sandy from Grease, but I am more of a Sandra Dee.”

“I got my chance to enact my bad-girl fantasy and took Darcy Barrett to the opposite extreme from Lucy to show that I can write a different character. Darcy is a woman who is alpha, possessive, passionate, and intense. She would kill for Tom Valeska. It forced me to be strict with myself, especially when writing dialogue.”

On Weaving In Romance

“My goal for this book was to create intensity between the two. Often in romance, it's the male character who exudes a powerful sexual aura, but I've changed it up in this book, and I think it is Darcy's lust, passion, obsession, and protection of Tom that will make the reader hook into this story,” she says.

“There's always been some sort of not-quite-human animal attraction between them their whole lives. Darcy describes it like this: "Tom Valeska has an animal inside him, and I've felt it every time he's looked at me." I hope that readers fall in love with Darcy, and how intensely she feels for Tom, just as much as they fall for him.”

These excerpts were originally published in GoodReads. Read the full interview here.

On Writer’s Block

Like nearly all writers, Thorne battled writer’s block throughout the process. “It isn’t pretty when it happens,” she confided in an interview with USA Today. But she had her set rituals to help get back on track.

I will do any (or all) of these things:

  • Make a cup of tea.
  • Put my head in my hands and cry into my keyboard.
  • Message a writing friend and tell them I’m out on the ledge.
  • Eat crunchy carbs.
  • Go and ride my horse.
  • E-mail my agent and tell her I’m useless at this writing thing.”

“Then I open a blank document and write a deliberately bad scene,” she continues. “I mean it: the absolute worst writing I can do. It’s usually a repulsive sex scene or 1970s romance novel kiss, changing the character names partway through. I write lurid descriptions of suede riding gloves with pearl buttons or sports slacks. They stand too close to the edge of cliffs, shouting each other’s (incorrect) names in the throes of passion. This action of writing something bad usually cheers me up immensely, because at the end I think, Hmm, I can definitely do better than this.”

On Distractions

“What doesn’t distract me?” she jokes. “The Internet is the main culprit, but I was once distracted by a butterfly passing my window. Piles of laundry, my dog walking in, a mug that needs refilling with tea … I am distracted by everything. It’s torturous. I often think that someone should Misery me — break my legs and force me to write.”

On Process

When it comes to process, most writers can describe themselves as a plotter or a pantster. But what about Thorne? Turns out she loves a good surprise.

I once plotted a novel chapter by chapter, then immediately felt bored with the idea because I knew how it unfolded. I didn’t write a single word of that story,” she says. “I write like someone climbing up a muddy hillside holding a lantern. It would be easier if I took the nice level prepared road, but I like finding things out along the way. It’s the best feeling when you type out something that surprises even you.

These excerpts were first published on USA Today. Read the full interview here.

Photo Credit: SallyThorneAuthor.com

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