Hello everyone! Today’s post is for fans of intense, queer YA contemporary stories. Abigail de Niverville dives into the inspiration behind We Go Together, and more about the themes in it!
Title: We Go Together
Author: Abigail de Niverville
Publisher: NineStar Press
The beaches of Grand-Barachois had been Kat’s summer home for years. There, she created her own world with her “summer friends,” full of possibilities and free from expectation. But one summer, everything changed, and she ran from the life she’d created.
Now seventeen and on the brink of attending college, Kat is full of regret. She’s broken a friendship beyond repair, and she’s dated possibly the worst person in the world. Six months after their break-up, he still haunts her nightmares. Confused and scared, she returns to Grand-Barachois to sort out her feelings.
When she arrives, everything is different yet familiar. Some of her friends are right where she left them, while some are nowhere to be found. There are so many things they never got to do, so many words left unsaid.
And then there’s Tristan.
He wasn’t supposed to be there. He was just a guy from Kat’s youth orchestra days. When the two meet again, they become fast friends. Tristan has a few ideas to make this summer the best one yet. Together, they build a master list of all the things Kat and her friends wanted to do but never could. It’s finally time to live their wildest childhood dreams.
But the past won’t let Kat go. And while this may be a summer to remember, there’s so much she wants to forget.
What is the inspiration behind We Go Together?
One of the major inspirations for We Go Together was a poem I’d written about the ending of the musical Grease. I had always felt that criticism of the ending of the musical was unwarranted. Sandy, in my opinion, didn’t change herself for a boy, but more changed herself because she was tired of others’ impressions of her. After writing the poem, I couldn’t stop thinking about this idea. I wanted to also write a character who undergoes a similar transformation. Once I made that decision, I began to ask myself why this particular character wanted to change. The more I wrote, the more clear it became that her reasons were darker than Sandy’s. That her “innocent” and “pure” image had made her something her abuser sought to conquer. And slowly, everything else fell into place.
As for the lighter aspects of the book, I took inspiration from an old story I’d written as a teenager. In it, the main character goes off to a music camp and meets a fun cast of characters who become her best friends. Unfortunately, as a teen writer, I could never figure out a plot for them, but I always loved the characters and their dynamics. When I was writing We Go Together, it became clear that a fun, lighthearted ensemble was needed to balance out the darker parts of the book. I realized those characters could finally have a home!
What are some themes you knew you wanted to explore from the start? Which ones snuck up on you?
The main thing I wanted to explore and condemn was the sexualization of teen girls. But as I was writing, what really snuck up on me was how heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality can lead queer youth into really damaging situations. Kat reclaiming her queerness and how she presents herself became very important to me as I was writing.
If you and Kat met, what would she say to you? What would you say to her?
I think she would thank me for persevering and writing her story, even when I wanted to throw it away. And I’d tell her she’s brave and I’m proud of her. And I’d want to give her a hug.
What would be on you and your best friend’s summer master list?
Like Kat, I too would love to compete in the Shediac Lobster Festival lobster eating contest. I’ve wanted to since I was little! I think kayaking, recording some music, seeing some plays, and maybe visiting some of those “world’s biggest” roadside attractions (Canada is full of them) would also make an appearance on the summer master list, too.
Do you have any advice on how to write about difficult subjects while also making a story as wholesome as Kat’s?
I would advise writing a secondary plot that’s much lighter in tone. It helps balance out the darker parts, while also making those moments more impactful. And I think it’s important for there to be hope throughout the story that things will get better in time.
Tell us about your future projects!
At the moment, I’m tweaking a lower YA novel about going into high school for the first time, dealing with crushes, and questioning one’s sexuality and one’s place in the world. It’s much more lighthearted, which was been really nice to write!! I’ve also been working on some supernatural short stories with sapphic heroines.
Abigail de Niverville is an author, composer, and poet based in Toronto, Canada. Born on the East Coast, Abigail draws inspiration from her experiences growing up there. When she’s not writing words, she can be found composing music, and holds an M.Mus from the University of Toronto. Her novels I Knew Him and We Go Together were published by NineStar Press in 2019 and 2020, respectively. She has also released two poetry collections.