Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2019 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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I’m Not Dying with You Tonight has two authors, and two teenage narrators living through one harrowing night.

Photo of Kimberly Jones (L) by Vania Stoyonova. Photo of Gilly Segal by Uchechi Anusiem.

1. Can we assume we know who wrote which chapters?

KJ: Originally, yes! During edits, that began to change. While the foundation of Lena’s chapters is mine and Campbell’s is Gilly’s, each of us worked within the other’s perspective.

2. What’s the most unlikely way you’ve made a friend?

KJ: I met a dear friend when I rear-ended her car. After she finished yelling at me, we realized we had a lot in common and arranged a brunch date.  

GS: I met a woman in the elevator on my first day of law school. We had all our classes together, formed a study group, and ended up working for the same law firm. We’ve been close friends ever since.

3. Was there a way home from school you were expressly told not to take?

GS: In college I managed the club hockey team. Normally after practice, I’d use the college’s escort service, but one night I decided to walk to my dorm alone. A few blocks in, alone on a deserted street, I realized what a careless decision that had been. I’m grateful to have made it home safely. 

KJ: Growing up, I lived in a middle-class Chicago neighborhood boxed in by gang territories. I was a “neutron” (non–gang affiliated), but some people still associated me with the gang in my neighborhood. I had a series of routes I switched up periodically to avoid fights.

4. Were you aiming for the fabled three dramatic unities from the start?

GS: We didn’t think in those terms, but  this story was certainly conceived as taking place in a specific neighborhood, following two characters, and transpiring over the course of one night. Compressing time and space let us keep the pace fast and the stakes high. 

5. Football fans — either, both?

GS: I played on the girls’ flag football team a couple times, but after high school, I hung up the cleats and laced up the skates. 

KJ: I’m so not a football fan. My mother once did a promotion with the Bears. They gave her amazing seats to a game, sent a limo for her — the whole nine yards. Twenty minutes into the game, I had a meltdown and we had to leave. Did I mention this was the legendary ’86 Bears?

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