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Interview with Robin Reul, author of WHERE THE ROAD LEADS US
Apr 5th, 2021 by Liza Wiemer

About Where The Road Leads Us:

From Goodreads:

Jack is on the verge for leaving for college, but before he does, he wants to track down his estranged brother, Alex and find some closure in the wake of their father’s death. Meanwhile, Hallie has just found out some upsetting news about a friend in Oregon, and she has a small window to go see him before it’s too late.

Jack and Hallie are practically strangers. They shared a class together years ago and haven’t seen each other since, though they have more in common than they’d ever imagine. And when fate puts them into the same rideshare to the bus terminal, it kicks off an unconventional and hilarious adventure that may lead them to their own true selves…and maybe to each other.

My 5 Star Review:

When Jack and Hallie’s paths cross, Robin Reul takes us on an incredible journey filled with depth, emotion, heart, and hope. The trials and tribulations of life are woven together in such a beautiful way, showing that sometimes we’re behind the wheel of life and sometimes life is behind the wheel, but ultimately it’s the choices we make that help determine its meaning.

This gorgeous cover reflects this gorgeous YA novel. I highly recommend that you give into the journey!

Interview:

1. Your characters go on an incredible journey. When you were a young adult, did you ever do anything like that? If so, where did you go? If not, was there anything in this book that was inspired by your life?

I wish my answer to that question could be yes. I think the closest I came was a two-week road trip through the whole Pacific Northwest with my husband when we were in our very early twenties looking for the place we wanted to move. We had maps from the AAA with all the places we wanted to see highlighted, no schedule, and stopped at all the nature and landmarks in between. It was pretty great. But I was actually quite timid as a young adult, uncomfortable with pushing past my comfort zones. I didn’t like being away from home or taking risks. As a result, I missed out on so many incredible opportunities and experiences to step out of my world and grow. But there are really two types of journeys in this novel: the literal road trip and the emotional one, and the latter is more so where my life parallels the book. During the writing of this book, my father became ill and passed away. His loss had a profound effect on every member of my family.  Writing became therapeutic for me, a way to make sense of what I was going through. It gave me a place to put all those feelings. At the time, my son was graduating college, feeling unsure of what direction he wanted to take, and my daughter was gearing up to start applying, and it made me remember my own struggle with feeling like I had to have my whole life figured out so young. I opted to take the safer route and follow in my father’s footsteps and work in the film industry rather than take a chance and follow my lifetime dream of being a writer. I loved working in film, but I think when you’re young is the time to uncover your passions and chase your dreams with the assurance that it is okay to change direction and reinvent yourself if you are unhappy. There’s no other time in life where you can have the freedom to do that the same way. 


2. You tackled some difficult issues like grief, illness, break-ups, and drug addiction. None of this was easy. What are some takeaways that you hope readers will be able to hold onto when facing any of these challenges?

That tomorrow is another day and that no matter what happens, it’s always up to us to create the life want, even when it doesn’t seem like it. My mother has a saying – “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and that resonates with me so deeply. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in great despair only to have things change for the better the next day, or hour. Like my characters say, I believe everything happens for a reason, and that often perspective comes in ugly wrapping paper. Life is filled with heartbreak, loss, things not going our way and feeling out of control. The challenge is to rise up and meet that and the growth comes in the discovery that we are more capable than we give ourselves credit for. And when it feels like too big a ship to navigate solo, being committed enough to your own peace that you will seek help if needed to get there rather than looking at our humanness and vulnerability as weakness or failure.


3. Share any novel secret(s) you’d like. It could be a character’s name, research, location choice – anything readers wouldn’t know just from picking up the novel.

One fun book secret is I wrote the whole road trip to the minute using Google Maps. When you put it in satellite mode you can get down to the street level and read actual signs, know exactly where the gas station is in relationship to the highway exit. In some cases, not only can you wander down a street but you can also go inside some shops. Because I was in Los Angeles and my characters were travelling to San Francisco, for the initial draft I started by calculating the length of the trip and then broke it down by where I thought they would be approximately at the different time markers, allowing for the indicated bathroom breaks, coffee stops, etc. Google Maps will tell me the amount of time it takes to get between points by car and on foot so it was easy to build a real-time timeline. The best was when they go to the Pacific Pinball Museum because that is one of those storefronts that fully lets you explore inside the building. I was able to write about what I saw in complete detail without ever setting foot in there. Then, the summer before I turned the book in, I went there with my family and got to experience it first-hand and fill in all the sensory details. It was pretty cool to see the book come to life like that. It’s amazing where you can go and how much you can see without ever leaving your house.

Bonus questions:

Dancing, walking, sailing, running, ice-skating, snowboarding?
Walking 
Soups: chicken noodle, egg drop, French onion, lentil, split pea, tortilla, other?
Broccoli cheddar in a sourdough bowl from Boudin Bakery
Concert, movie, musical, play?
All of the above YES
Music: Classical, hard rock, soft rock, hip hop, jazz, country, other?
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1980’s so I’m still a huge fan of 70’s/80’s pop and classic rock. 
If you could go back in time, which writer would you choose to meet? Plato, Jane Austen, Anne Frank, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Steinbeck or other? 
Maya Angelou – she fearlessly spoke her truth and this quote from her is especially relevant to this book: “Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.” 

Social media links:

Website: https://robinreul.com

Twitter (@robinreul)

Instagram (@robinreul)

Facebook Author Page 

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