I’m so pleased to have Chase Potter with us today to talk a little bit about his new book Remember My Name. To give you an idea of how quickly this came together, I invited him to come visit with us on Monday, whipped up a few quick questions, and he had the answers back to me by Wednesday. That’s what you call the perfect storm of organization, and I’m happy to be able to share this with all of you.
Q: Chase, Remember My Name is your second novel (after The Race for Second)—has it gotten any easier, or are the nerves just as bad the second time around with this release? What’s the best and worst part of these early days following the release of a book?
A: The thing about writing is that it’s a profoundly personal process, but all that changes when it’s released. With my first book, I didn’t know what to expect at all, so I had no room for disappointment. With Remember My Name, I had some specific goals in mind and I really tried to create something that matched my original vision. And yeah, I’m pretty nervous about how it will be received.
Best part? Knowing that I’m done and it’s out there. Worst part? Waiting for those first reviews.
Q: Was the experience of writing this book much different than The Race for Second? In what ways was it better, the same, or worse?
A: Like another kind of “first,” writing my first book was a clumsy process. I didn’t know what went where or whether I was ever going to finish, and when I was finally did, I was a little shy and embarrassed about what I’d just done. Kidding aside, the first draft ofRemember My Name was much easier to write, but I’m also still learning a lot. Which is why I put it down for three months and then rebuilt the whole thing. That process sucked, but it’s a much stronger novel for it.
Q: You dedicated this book to your brother. If it’s not too personal a question to ask, what was the instrumental factor in your dedicating Remember My Name to him?
A: At its heart, Remember My Name is about the relationship between two brothers – about the connection they have, and about the distance between them. My own brother and I have a good relationship, even though we live 300 miles apart. We accept our differences unconditionally, and we respect and admire each other, and we laugh at our own jokes that no one else gets… but I still wish we were closer. The novel isn’t just dedicated to him – its inspiration came from my desire for us to be closer than we are. The tough part is that I still haven’t found a way to tell him that.
Q: We can all read the blurb and get a bit of an understanding of what the book is about, but tell us some of the things you love about Remember My Name that you think we, the readers, will love about it too.
A: Without giving spoilers, it’s hard to say specifically what I think readers will love about it. Readers will always take different things from a novel, but going into this project, I wanted to make sure that it had a lot to love. Personally, I wanted to create characters and a setting that felt so real that readers would miss them when they put the book down. I think I did a good job with that, and that’s one of the aspects I love the most.
Q: The cover of the book is lovely. How much of a part did you play in its design, and who’s your cover artist?
A: Thanks! I have to admit that I have an independent streak that tends to shine through in the projects I take on, and that I like to do as much as I can on my own before asking for help. Keeping with tradition, I designed and created the cover myself with a few stock images and too many hours in Photoshop. In particular, I’m really proud of how the paperback version turned out.
Q: Would you like to share an excerpt from the book with us?
A: Sure! I have a lot of favorite parts in the book, and this is one of them:
Blurb: Every action can have devastating consequences. For Jackson Roanoke, the greatest consequence of his parents’ divorce was watching his mother drive away with his twin brother Ben, putting thousands of miles between them.
Eight years later and with college looming, Jackson is tasked with reroofing his father’s house. After a tempting offer of help from a young man, Jackson finds himself caught up in a growing attraction he’s hesitant to embrace. But when his brother Ben reappears at the front door, Jackson is confronted by more than he’s prepared for.
Brought together by circumstance, the estranged brothers are forced to navigate a relationship that persists only in their memories. Marked by the heat of a Midwest summer and rolling wheat fields, the short months are punctuated by scattered moments of closeness between the two brothers, hinting at the possibility of rekindling the connection they once shared.
Excerpt: Hours have passed when I hear a creak in the hallway and the soft protest of the door’s hinges. As Jackson’s darkened shape moves toward the bed, I roll over. He jumps backward, exploding with a whispered exclamation. “Holy mother of hell!” His breath reeks like booze. He must have had more after I left him. But where?With Matt?
“Sorry,” I mumble. “I just wanted to know that you were home safe. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Well, you did.” He moves back toward me. “Scoot over if you’re gonna stay,” he says, his words running together.
“You’re not kicking me out?” I ask, untangling myself from the blankets and making room for him. His only answer is the rustle of fabric and denim as he strips down to his underwear before climbing into bed beside me. Now that he’s under the covers, I can smell the alcohol even stronger.
“How did you get home?”
“Matt,” he says.
“What were you guys doing?”
“Had a few drinks in his truck.”
I’m wide-awake now. “Of what exactly? You smell like a distillery.”
He tries to laugh but interrupts himself with a burp. “I dunno… vodka I think.”
Tension flares in my chest. “He drove you home after that?”
“Yeah. We didn’t fool around or anything, so don’t act so grossed out. Jesus, Ben…” his voice trails.
“I don’t care about that, dumb ass. He drove you home drunk?”
Jackson doesn’t answer me at first. When he speaks, his words are barely more than a whisper. “Why are you always mad at me?”
“I’m not mad at you,” I say, keeping my own voice soft. It’s easy to do, because what I’m saying is true. The one I’m mad at is Matt. If Jackson’s level of intoxication is any indication, Matt should definitely not have been driving at all, much less endangering my brother while doing it. But if I go off about that, Jackson will just freak out on me.
Instead, I apologize. “I’m sorry you got outed tonight.”
First a pause, then he sighs but still doesn’t respond.
“What’s going to happen now?” I ask.
His voice is heavy in the darkness. “I don’t know.”
“At least you’re graduated and about to get out of this town.”
I’m tired, but I don’t want tonight to end with those words. My teeth nibble on my lip. “I was worried about you,” I admit.
He shifts beneath the covers, then pushes himself up to a sitting position and turns on the bedside lamp. Squinting in the sudden illumination, I sit up so I’m leaning against the headboard beside him. What does he want?
As if in response to my unspoken question, he reaches over and runs a hand through my hair just like he always does with his own. It happens so abruptly and unexpectedly that when the moment is over, I think I may have just imagined it.
Jackson looks at me, and I look back. His face has a crooked grin that I recognize as alcohol induced. Seeing him like this makes me want to grab a hold of him and never let him go.
It’s possible that I’m channeling the same chord of spontaneity and lack of restraint that he just acted on, or maybe I’m just doing what I want to. Stretching out my hand toward his face, I let the tips of my middle and index fingers lightly touch his cheek. He doesn’t flinch or pull away, instead letting his bright eyes – somewhat dimmed by the alcohol but nevertheless brilliant blue – continue to hold me captive.
He lets me simply touch him as I run my fingers across the freckles at the tops of his cheeks. I love them, and I have no idea why. Jackson and I had something special once, and at its heart was our sameness. So it doesn’t make sense that the thing I appreciate most about him is one of our few differences.
Maybe it’s because physically, it’s the only thing that I can love about him that is him and only him. If I admire his biceps or his hair or his eyes, I’m inadvertently complimenting myself at the same time. But those light brown spots just below his eyes, those are Jackson’s alone.
Dropping my hand, I try to interpret his expression. Part of it is wistful, but its composition includes a darker aspect, too. He clicks off the light and slides down until his head rests on the pillow.
Now that Jackson is home, the exhaustion from the day finally settles over me, dragging my eyes closed. With the steady breathing of my brother beside me, I quickly slip toward a peaceful sleep. My last thought before disappearing into unconsciousness is how at home I feel.
Q: Do you have any current WIPs you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about, and when we might expect them to be released?
A: I’m not actually writing anything presently, although I do have the sequel storyboarded, and I’ll be starting on that soon. It can be tricky to find time while working a full time job (as many of us know!), but I’m hoping to have it finished by this fall.
Q: Chase, thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us. Will you tell readers where we can find you on the internet?