Series: My Life Next Door #2
Published on August 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
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Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
- need a liver transplant
- drive his car into a house
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.
Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.
And Alice is caught in the middle.
Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.
Which do you find the hardest to write, the first or the last line of your novel? Why?
The first—hands down. I’m one of those people who generally writes about eight different drafts of the first few chapters, before I realize I just need to chop them all out and begin at what I thought was chapter 6 or so. OR So far I’ve found that the first line is buried somewhere in the first three pages—but it takes me writing the whole book to figure that out and go back and find it. As for the last line—and the last paragraph—I usually find that somewhere near the middle of the first draft. I’m lucky, because they’re both there—I just need to look for a while.
Which comes first in your writing process, the title, or the content of you story? (Do you always know what your book’s title is going to be?)
I usually stick on a generic title until I’m about a third of the way into the book—and sometimes all the way through until the last paragraph. They’ve all changed titles, so far. MLND was, very briefly, WATCHING THE GARRETTS. WITWT began as SEASHELL ISLAND GIRL and TBMLT spent a few drafts being IT AIN’T ME, BABE. As the books develop, and become ‘more truly themselves’ I find that the title does too.
(My Life Next Door Question) Where did you get inspiration for the Garretts? We find them to be a sensationally chaotic family, yet remarkably loveable! We’d love to know if they ‘exist’ out there somewhere…
Like almost every individual member of the family, the Garretts are a composite—a big messy blend of all the big families I’ve read about, heard about, watched and been part of. Knowing about the chaos and the love comes pretty directly from my own family of six kids, and I’ve been fascinated by the mechanics of a big (healthy, healthy is key) family for most of my life.
Let’s talk character names. How do you go about selecting names for characters in your book? Do the names you pick have any significance to you, or do you ever feel inspired by a name?
I do a lot of thinking about the names of every single character. Even if they’re someone who appears for three lines. But they all just “come to me”—sooner or later. I’d never heard the name “Jase” anywhere when I picked it for my hero. I wouldn’t have thought I’d name a hero either Cassidy or Tim. When I have to change a name, as I’ve done for the heroine of WITWT, I do it really reluctantly. Gwen was originally Cate, and I sometimes wonder how perception of her would have changed if that had stuck. But I couldn’t have Cate n’ Cassidy, and I was more wedded to his name, so Cate had to go. The only name I’ve ever gotten elsewhere was Samantha Reed—my second daughter named her when I said I wanted “a sort of princess name for a non-princess girl.”
How do you plot your books, do you write it down on paper/index cards/etc, or do you write on the fly? Do you ever find that your plot changes as you write, or does it stay pretty close to how you planned it?
I’m pretty evenly divided between planning everything in advance and letting the chips fall where they may. I come up with the characters and the broad general outline, do all the fun peripheral stuff like what kind of clothes they wear, bands they listen to, food they like, etc…then write a very general plot sketch, then stick all that in a drawer and write the first scene that comes to me and move on from there. If I get stuck, I go back to index cards and looking up horoscopes, but that’s mostly just procrastinating. The only thing that works is just keeping on going. The theme generally stays the same as my initial idea, the plot changes radically.
Do you have any authors who inspire you or your writing style? If so, who?
I love reading memoirs—the raw honesty and the real-life detail, so I love Annie Lamott, Joan Didion, Caroline Knapp, Isak Dinesen. I love YA that goes in unexpected directions, so I love Deb Caletti, Jennifer Echols, Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume. I hadn’t read the first two when I started writing YA and they have been both a treat and a real inspiration to write honestly and boldly.
What’s in your “Author Survival Kit”? (Pens, Caffeine, iPods, Prozac?)
Good question. I’m still on a quest for several coveted items on my “Author Survival Kit”, like, say, Mary Poppins in a jar, ready to leap out and magically handle the rest of my life while I keep writing. But I do have incomplete but essential survival kits stationed in my office, my car, and my suitcase. In them, I always have multicolored pens—I love InkJoy ones—Highlighters and post-it notes, also in an array of colors. Spiral bound notebooks. Folder with torn out pictures of locations and clothes for characters in it. About ten extra folders. Empty portable coffee mug for refilling. Gummy bears, but only Haribo brand, the others are way too mushy. Cinnamon gum. Wintergreen lifesavers—to clean breath and/or dazzle children with wintergreen lifesaver triboluminescence Book of poetry (like GOOD POEMS, annotated by Garrison Keillor), to remind me that its possible to say beautiful things economically **Triboluminescence is the emission of light resulting from something being smashed or torn
Do you have a favorite place to write? Tell us about it!
Anyplace with a comfortable chair and a great big window is perfect—looking out at the ocean, the mountains, the city—it doesn’t matter as long as there’s a view for me to see, or stare blankly at. My actual office is the corner of our bedroom, so it lacks a view, a door, and privacy. My husband tried to make me an office in the basement but it was dark, musty and faintly damp down there. Also spiders. And no view. I do dream of someday having an office in a turret room overlooking the sea, but for now that’s still more of a fantasy than anything I write.
If you could use 3 words to describe your books, what would they be?
Wistful, warm, realistic
What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
Live in England again for a while, learn (or in my case relearn) to sail, do something to make the world more beautiful (with thanks to MISS RUMPHIUS by Barbara Cooney)
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What is something you never leave home without?
Coffee and a book to read
What is your favorite movie?
Impossible to say. But I rewatch Parenthood, Music and Lyrics and Dirty Dancing with great enthusiasm and frequency
I’m going to have to go with the Beatles, because I’ve spent a lifetime writing stories to go with their songs. With a big nod to the Doors, the Stones, the Smiths and Nirvana.
What are the last 3 books you enjoyed reading?
Again, so many. In YA? THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Trish Dollar, NOWHERE BUT HERE by Katie McGarry and 99 DAYS by Katie Cotugno
What are 3 words you’d use to describe yourself?
Dreamy, Curious Overthinker,
Do you have a favorite hobby/pastime?
Reading, walking or biking, travelling, driving with the windows down, the dogs and kids in the back, to the beach or the mountains or anywhere.
Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what is it?
I rock at Trivial Pursuit. If it’s obscure and seldom important to remember, it’s locked in my brain, I swear.
This or That?
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset. It lasts longer. And besides “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight” etc…
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee hot, tea iced. Both, all year round.
Hot or Cold?
Beverage-wise, see above. Weather wise?—give me scorching over freezing.
Half-empty or Half-full?
Half full, always. And someone will be along to refill any minute ; )
Autumn or Spring?
Spring. Lilacs. The end of being housebound. The world waking up again.
Summer or Winter?
Summer. I love Christmas season, skiing, and sledding, but I’d be happy if all three were compressed into a shorter time-span.
E-book or Print Book? (Preferred reading)
I don’t care what format a book is in as long as I get to read it. If I love love love it, I want a hard copy on my shelf. Or next to the bathtub.
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