Interview: Jamie Tworkowski

by Deanna Chapman

When did you first get the idea to start TWLOHA? How did you go about getting people involved initially and growing from there?

TWLOHA started as an attempt to help my friend Renee Yohe. i wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms,” about the five days i spent with her after she was denied entry into a treatment center in Orlando. The story was posted as a blog on MySpace and i started selling t-shirts as a way to help pay for her treatment. Basically, the story and the shirts both went viral, and a lot of that had to do with the support of bands such as Switchfoot, Anberlin, and Paramore.

This year is a pretty big one for TWOLHA between the movie and now this book. What made you decide to write “If You Feel Too Much,” and did the movie have any influence on that decision?

A book is something i had been wanting to do for years. i talked about it a lot, to the point of crying wolf. For a long time, i assumed the book would be a memoir, one story told from start to finish. But then i just kept coming back to the idea of publishing a collection of my writing, because there was a lot that i was proud of. i started to get really excited about these stories having a home in the form of a book. The movie certainly influenced the decision, because it seemed like smart timing, but the book idea was something i had in mind long before there was a movie.

What was the process like of sending the book to various publishers? Was there something specific you were looking for in a publisher?

i had a lot of help from my agent, whose name is Bryan Norman. He helped me with the book proposal process. We heard from Tarcher/Penguin the very first day, which was super exciting because they’re part of the legendary Penguin brand, based in New York. Honestly, Tarcher represented the best-case scenario, a New York publisher with a rich history, who would let me be myself. They were actually the first publisher to make an offer, and that happened an hour after our first phone call. So after years of talking about a book and thinking about a book, the whole thing came together quickly.

How do you feel about doing your first book tour – are you nervous? Excited?

Well, as i sit here now, the took is mostly over. i’ve done 13 cities all across America. i was definitely nervous at first, because i went in knowing almost nothing about a book tour. But after the first couple nights, i really fell in love with it. To be able to share these stories that mean so much to me, and to have folks actually show up night after night, sometimes coming from hours away, i’m aware how special that is. Also, my sister Emily was with me for the first week, and my best friend Mark came out for the second week. It was great to not have to do the whole thing alone.

Are there future plans for a second book?

There will definitely be more books down the road. i wouldn’t say there’s “plans” yet, because IF YOU FEEL TOO MUCH is still very fresh – i’m still promoting that one, but it’s safe to say i’ve enjoyed the whole process, and so i look forward to doing it again.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers about yourself, TWLOHA, or the book?

If you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. Please know that it’s okay to be honest and it’s okay to ask for help. i hope my book might be some small encouragement, and i hope TWLOHA.COM can help as well.

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