You may have heard of the awesome Month of Men Blog Tour, an awesome UK virtual event featuring some AMAZING authors. I am ecstatic to welcome one of my favourite contemporary authors to the blog today and that is Jennifer Echols. I've read just about all of her books, she is my "Go To" girl when I need a YA contemporary romance novel and I've even been quoted on a couple of them now, too.
I don't know whether you can see my quote on the back cover of the US hardback of Such a Rush but it says:
"The Nora Roberts of the YA Fiction World" - Narratively Speaking
And I really do mean that, too! I've been waiting SO LONG to finally say that Jennifer is being published in the UK and it's about time! I'm just hoping that one day, we can bring her over here for a book signing! *pokes Simon & Schuster*. Going Too Far (review here) and Forget You (review here) are two of my favourite Jennifer Echols books and they will be published soon by Simon & Schuster UK. Trust me when I tell you that you should read them and have a look at the sparkly, new UK covers:
Anyway, as part of The Month of Men Blog Tour, Jennifer kindly agreed to talk about how she got the idea for Going Too Far and how it became the book we know and love. Take it away, Jennifer...
From Idea to Publication
After Major Crush, I was supposed to write another YA novel for my editor. My favorite TV shows at the time were Cops, a reality show that followed the police on their beat, and Reno 911!, a comedy that made fun of Cops. I decided to write a romantic comedy about two teens who have to do a ride-along in the back of a cop car, either because they're doing a report for school, or because they've gotten in trouble and the police are trying to scare them straight. But as I thought about this scenario, I decided that a more interesting relationship would be between one teen in trouble and the cop. Once I did some research and found out that there are a few districts in the United States that hire 19-year-old cops, I knew that was my story.
This book went very fast—about three months—and I loved writing it. I prefer to write without an outline, knowing there will be a romance and a happy ending but otherwise not being too sure where I'm going. Without planning, I set the book in a town a little like a suburb of Birmingham (in the US—ours is named after yours!) where I lived for a while, and a little like the tiny town where I grew up. Birmingham has only a million people in the metropolitan area and isn't very urban, so this may be a bit hard to believe, but when I was a teenager I longed to get out of my town and thought that if I could just make it to Birmingham, I could be that whole person I wanted to be, surrounded by culture and the arts and open-minded intellectuals. I gave that attitude to the heroine, Meg. I also gave her a very good reason for feeling that way.
Then I had to give Johnafter a very good reason to stay stuck in the small town, so that he and Meg would be torn apart. I was tortured by this for about half the book—my agony probably comes across in the pages—but I knew I would figure it out. I had started writing the book with what's now Chapter 4 and trusted that it would all come together eventually. Sure enough, as soon as I had Johnafter's motivation, I was able to write the rest.
Of course, if you've read the book, you know that it's not the romantic comedy I originally intended. My editor had said I could write anything I wanted for my second book, so I thought this dark romantic drama was okay. I turned it in. She wasn't able to accept it, and I had to go back and write another romantic comedy for my contract. It's called The Boys Next Door, which nowadays you can find published in the same book with its sequel, Endless Summer. It was a couple of years before we found a publisher for Going Too Far, and another couple of years before the novel actually came out. Frustrating as that was, there's a certain satisfaction that comes with feeling you've done a good job, whether anybody else appreciates it or not. This time I had definitely written the type of book I wanted to read. And because I was confident and patient, eventually this book would be published and would open the door to a whole new subgenre for me. So there's certainly something to be said, at least sometimes, for writing without an outline.
Thank you Jennifer! The UK editions of Going Too Far and Forget You are both published on 11th April, 2013. To find out more about Jennifer and her books, please click here to visit her website. As for the rest of the blog tour, you can check out all the news and posts you missed by visiting the Facebook page here.