Okay, so first thing’s first: As the newest member of YA Outside the Lines, I have to say I’m thrilled to join these incredible authors. Thrilled. And because I had such a long road to publication (seven and a half years of full-time effort to get to that first signed contract), my head still spins when I think that I’m able to use the word “fellow” when I refer to these authors, as in: my fellow YA authors.
It also makes my head spin to think that one month from today, my second novel will release…
My novels are about as night-and-day as it gets. The covers and the official jacket copy for each prove that much:
A Blue So Dark, my debut:
Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.
Playing Hurt, the March 8 release:
Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Chelsea and Clint both begin to wonder if an unexpected romance will just end up causing them more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?
I’m not sure that I can say the inspiration for either of my books is singular. But certainly one of the biggie inspirations for Playing Hurt is Harold and Maude, one of my favorite love stories—and movies—of all time.
For anyone unfamiliar with the movie, Harold is a young man (early 20’s) obsessed with death. He drives a hearse, stages fake “suicides,” primarily for his mother’s benefit, and attends funerals—where he meets Maude, a woman in her late 70’s. They become probably the oddest odd couple of all time…but in their short time together, Maude teaches Harold how to love life; when Maude leaves at the end of the movie, Harold is a changed man.
I’ve always loved that about this movie—loved the fact that Harold’s life is different because Maude has been in it.
Playing Hurt is really nothing at all like Harold and Maude…except for the fact that in my novel, both Chelsea and Clint—damaged by life-altering tragedies—change for the better. Just as Harold is a better man for having known Maude, in Playing Hurt, Chelsea and Clint’s brief summer romance redirects both of them back toward the light that can still exist in their lives.
…I’m not sure which I like best: the short clip from Harold and Maude, included below, or one of the comments I read below a similar Harold and Maude clip, on YouTube: “everyone should know a maude”. Amen, brother…