From there, it just got worse. I
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.Sounds great, right? [It totally is. You can read my review on GR here]
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
1. Where did the idea for The Promise of Amazing come from?
Wren's story had been brewing in my head for a long time. The seed of the idea was to have a shy girl save a local celebrity's life and then be thrust into the spotlight. I worked on other things and fooled around with it every so often, but it wasn't until I moved to a new state that Grayson's part was born.
Home invasion/break-in is apparently a popular crime in the area that I live. And you know, who wants to deal with that? Before we purchased our home I had a conversation with my realtor about it and she mentioned that most break-ins were either people who knew the owners or rashes of crimes. (Neither of which made me feel better, btw) She went on to tell me about a recent crime spree involving thieves who would scope out malls, take the garage door openers out of people's cars and go to their target's houses while they were still shopping. For some reason this stuck with me, maybe because it's more thought out than just your average b&e. I kept wondering about it - did they have a lookout? What did they do with the merchandise they took? I didn't want to write that story but it kept stalking me. I'd get flashes of scenes and just think no...no...NO! But when I sat down to finally tackle Wren's story, I decided to bring that aspect into it. Grayson had been a minor character in another book I'd been writing and I loved him so much, I brought him along for this story. I put a twist on the method of break-in and changed the local celebrity to former thief and the story took off from there.
2. You wrote from two POVs: Wren and Grayson. Who was easier to work with?
The book didn't start out in two POVs but I got about a page into chapter two from Wren's POV and thought this is going nowhere. So I switched it up. Grayson was actually easy for me to write in the drafts - he was very visceral/shoot from the hip and it was fun to switch up the voices - but his chapters were the ones that needed the most revision during the entire process. He's such a delicious mess of a person to me, someone who really wants to do the right thing, get out from underneath the trouble he's gotten himself into, but keeps screwing it up.
3. I really enjoyed the family aspect. Both Wren and Grayson have supportive family members who take an active part in their lives, but don't hinder [for lack of a better word] the character growth. Was that an active choice?
Thanks!! Yes, it was an active choice. I love both of their families. You always here "kill the parents" because your main character is supposed to figure things out for themselves -- which I get to a certain degree but people who come from supportive and loving families can screw things up too. I just always saw these characters with parents and siblings. I love Grayson's father in particular. I think he's this guy with rough edges, someone whose glory days are in his past and he's really okay with that but he wants more for his son -- in his darker moments he dwells on what might have been, but for the most part hes' a guy who is happy and would do anything for his family. And I love Wren's relationship with her brother Josh. So much.
4. I've seen some reviewers say Promise is a mash up of Pretty and Pink and Cruel Intentions. Do you think that's accurate?
Can I just say I LOVE that comparison? That would have been awesome to put in a query!! I'm not sure I see what the boys are doing as intentional which may sound strange. Or maybe I should say THEY don't look at what they are doing as intentional or cruel. I think Operation Amsterdam is something that started out as 'we bored, let's see if we can get away with this' and it snowballed. Smart boys doing stupid things and they don't quite fully comprehend the consequences of their actions -- moral or legal. They see the end -- a trip to Amsterdam -- and a way to get there. If they had pulled this stuff when they were twenty-five, that would be a completely different story. We think we're above the law and invincible when we're teens. (At least I did.)
On the other hand, the part I do see that is intentional is Luke and Ava and how they manipulate Wren and Grayson to get what they think they want. And in that respect I can see the Cruel Intentions parallel. Pretty in Pink is a little harder for me (although it's one of my favorite movies so I'll take it!!) but maybe the parallel of Stef trying to keep Blaine away from Andie because he's always sort of liked her and if he can't have her, then Blaine shouldn't either, so he causes trouble for his own amusement? That mirrors a little bit of the Grayson-Wren-Luke dynamic for me. When Luke meets Wren, I have a very specific reason why he acts the way he does, but that's between him and me....mwahahaha.
5. What was your favorite part of writing the book?
I loved Wren and Grayson's first kiss (outside the hospital). Originally they didn't kiss until the cottage scene. In my first draft Grayson wanted to kiss Wren but he thought it might be too soon, and one of my CPs said, well if he wants to, why don't you let him and see what happens. So he kissed her and the scene took a different route from there. For me, it's Grayson being awkward but being so overwhelmed that Wren would go out of her way to do something for him, when once again he's really done nothing to earn it. He's sort of blown away by her kindness. And while Grayson can really put on the whole lady-killer-jerk act as Mike Pearson...it's an act...he's genuine at heart.
I also LOVED writing the cottage scene with Wren and Grayson. And I ADORED writing the scenes with Maddie, Jazz and Wren because they reminded me of the best times with my friends.
6. Describe Promise in 5 words.
Funny. Raw. Sexy. Sweet. Maddening.
Speed [ish] round:
1. You get the call/email/letter that says you're being published for the first time. What happens next?
Have heartburn for a year. Kidding. Kind of.
I got "the call" December 2012 -- I'd just come in from a fruitless Christmas shopping trip and was online looking up a doll for my niece when the phone rang. I have one of those phones that announces the person who's calling so I knew it was my agent and I was immediately like OMG. A million and one different scenarios floated through my head as I walked over to pick up the phone. I'm not sure I heard much after she told me that Donna Bray loved my manuscript and was interested in talking to us. The whole process took about two weeks -- we spoke to Donna before acquisitions and it was all pretty nail biting wondering if the sale would go through -- really you sort of steel yourself by being cautiously optimistic, so by the time my agent called me and said it was a done deal, I just kind of sat down and let it all sink in and was oddly calm, not jumping around flailing like I imagined I would be!! Until I received my editorial letter and started working on the book again, it all sort of felt surreal. Some days it still does!
2. What three things would you take to a desert island?
Matches, Nutella and a thick pair of socks.
3. What are you reading right now?
Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano -- it's coming out March 2014 and it's soooooo good.
4. Who are your favorite swoony boys?
Pretty much the cast of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, but I'm partial to the bad boys -- Damon and Klaus and Stefan when he's being evil. And I LOVED the bromance between Damon and Alaric!!
5. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?
I kind of fangirl over every author I meet! And I am so goofy when I'm fangirling -- it's like my brain forgets how to form words. I met Laurie Halse Anderson right before Speak came out and she was so down to earth and genuine, she put me at ease. On the other hand I was recently at an event with Judy Blume and I was too overwhelmed to go up to her and introduce myself for fear that I'd just kind of run off at the mouth of worse, stand there and gape after awkwardly professing my love for her. (I regret that!!) And if I ever met Marcus Zusak, I'd probably do something embarrassing like walk into a wall or trip over my own feet. (That was not a speedy answer, was it?)
Huge thanks to Robin for
And now for the giveaway!!
There will be two winners! Robin has so awesomely offered up an annotated copy of Promise and I'm going to give one away as well. Robin's special copy is US only and since mine will coming from The Book Depository, it'll be international.
Rules for the giveaway are under "terms and conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway