What is the title of your next book?
Oh hmmm, this is not a good way to start off, but I'm very superstitious about sharing titles until the book is at least done and being shopped. So I have been referring to it publicly as The Contemporary YA... I will give you this, the working title comes from a Hole song....
Where did the idea come for the book?
In 2010, it rained so hard in my area that my basement flooded twice and the floods were exactly one month apart. It was stressful, but in dealing with it, I thought it could have been worse, especially if things of irreplaceable sentimental value had been down there. From there, my writer's imagination spiraled and I thought, what if a teenage girl's older brother had recently died and his room had been in the basement. I've found myself writing about grief a lot lately because I lost a friend in 2008, so this became an outlet for dealing with my own grief in a way. Also, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship in high school and have wanted to write a story that deals with that for a long time, When I got to know Meredith, my main character, I realized that in trying to run from her grief and be "normal," she'd wound up in an unhealthy relationship. Oh and last but not least, since my book is set in place close to where BALLADS is set, I thought it might fun to refer back to that book in some way (I love it when Sarah Dessen and other authors do this!). Meredith attends a grief therapy group and I thought who better to lead that group than a grown-up Cass.
What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh god, I am horrible at this sort of thing. The only actor I've ever imagined playing any of my characters is that I can see Madeleine Martin from Californication as Emily from IWBYJR. I don't have an actor in mind at ALL for Meredith. She tried very hard to be the normal teenage girl who blends in and she basically does. She's medium height with dirty blonde hair that she prefers to wear in a ponytail and she's thinner than she should be. So if anyone comes to mind, please tell me. It would be nice to have an image of her/start a Pinterest for this book.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Crap, horrible at this, too!!!! Umm....Okay, on the fly back jacket copy is the best I can do...
It's been almost a year since sixteen year-old Meredith Bell lost her older brother, Justin, and she's been trying to convince herself and everyone around her that she's fine. In fact her life couldn't be better, especially since she started dating Bret, a hot guitarist who she's been crushing on since freshman year. But when she discovers a connection between Bret and two people in her grief therapy group and Bret's grows increasingly controlling and overprotective, Meredith's perfect, "normal" world begins to fall apart.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be represented by my amazing agent, Adrienne Rosado.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It's still in progress. Aiming to finish a shitty first draft by the end of February (with the help of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival!). Came up with the idea in November of 2010 and wrote the first few chapters while I was struggling with my bartender book. Started working on it in earnest in August of 2012.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Um, my own? But I strive to write something as powerful as Holly Cupala, Sara Zarr, and Courtney Summers regularly do.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My own struggles with grief and an emotionally abusive relationship
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Structurally the book is written alternating present and past tense. We meet Meredith on the day when everything really falls apart and flip back and forth between that and how it all happened. I posted an excerpt from the first past tense section on facebook last week. Here's a chunk from the present tense. This is how the book begins:
When someone destroys something that really matters to you it’s worse than a punch in the face.
At least I think it might be. He never hit me, but sometimes I wish he had.
Actually I wish he would do it right now.
That’s a sick thing to wish for, isn’t it? But if he took a swing at me—especially here, in the middle of our high school hallway when it’s at max capacity moments before the first bell—it would all be out in the open for everyone to see and I would be able to stop questioning if the things he does are wrong because hitting someone definitely is.
Black-and-blue is black-and-white. It’s not a misunderstanding, a signal I misread, a joke that I didn’t get because I don’t have a sense of humor anymore, or something I’m blowing out of proportion because I’m crazy. No one would be able to say, “Meredith, it’s all in your head.” Not him, not Abby, not even me.
That’s not how he operates, though.
I already have an idea of what is going to happen. When I accidentally glanced across the hall and made eye contact with him, it was like looking in the rearview mirror, seeing a semi-truck hurtling down the hill behind you and visualizing the whole accident before it takes place, but not knowing how to prevent it. I guess I could’ve swerved into oncoming traffic, slamming my locker shut and shoving through the crowd like I thought I was late or something, but my body isn’t cooperating with my brain.
And there you have it. My current project. Now I am off to work on it!