Thanks to Simon and Schuster for organising this great blog tour all about men in YA (yay!) and thanks to Jenn for this guest post. Her books are brilliant and you should all check them out :)
by Jennifer Echols
My contract for Going Too Far was for that book only. However, I hoped that the publisher would buy another, similar book from me, so I set out to write one.
My original idea, the one I couldn't get out of my head, was having an athletic hero, usually very confident in his body, on crutches and therefore vulnerable for the entire book.
Another unrelated idea I'd toyed with for a while was a book about a girl repeatedly having car trouble in a small town like the one where I grew up, where there was no public transportation, and teens were stuck if they didn't have cars. I'd actually proposed a YA romantic comedy along these lines, and it was turned down.
These two ideas came together for me when I was reading an American romance blog called Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Smart Bitch Sarah was reviewing a YA novel she'd loved to death when she was a teenager, a Sweet Valley High series book in which one of the identical twins has a motorcycle accident, hits her head, and thinks she's the other twin. Well, everybody on the site was making great fun of this awful book, whereas I was thinking, "Hey, that sounds pretty good." I have always been a sucker for amnesia stories. And that's when I realized I could bundle every bit of this together. A girl could have a car crash that gives her amnesia and breaks the hero's leg. Afterward, she's desperate to find out the details of what happened and why, but one of the few people who knows the truth is the vulnerable, stubborn hero, and he's not telling.
I could have set this book just about anywhere—in the town where I grew up, for instance. But I'd used my town quite a few times already. Instead, I decided to set the book in one of my favorite places in the world, the Gulf Coast of Florida, where I go to the beach with my family every year, and where I was standing when I got the call from my agent that I'd sold my first book a few years before. The waterpark that the heroine's father owns, and where she and most of her friends have spent the summer working, is the waterpark where I'd spent the day before I got that call.
I put the heroine and all her friends on the swim team because I love to swim and always wished my own high school had had a swim team (it was too small). But that gave me another idea. I grew up on a lake, and I learned to swim when I was two. I consider myself a very strong swimmer—pretty much undrownable. Then, on my honeymoon in Hawaii, I swam at a beach with a stronger undercurrent than I'd ever experienced, and I got caught in the undertow. The waves were so huge and powerful, forcing me under repeatedly, that I actually had a moment when I thought that might be the end of me.
I didn't die, obvs. I did exactly what you're supposed to do in that situation: I swam parallel to the beach until the current let me go. But that panic stayed with me. Years later, it seemed like the perfect way to open Forget You, a book in which everything about the steady heroine's stable life upends overnight.
You can visit the official Month of Men blog tour page on Facebook here.