Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blog tour stop: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal plus guest post

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: June 10th 2014

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

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Ghostly “Rules” 

While I was writing My Last Kiss one of my critique partners kept asking me what the “rules” were for Cassidy as a ghost. To which I replied, “Ghosts aren’t real so I can do whatever I want.” And I sorta did…until I sold the book and my editor asked the same question. (I should’ve listened to you, Shelley!)

The basic guidelines were established, but the necessity for more concrete rules came when Cassidy’s circumstances began to change as her memory slowly returns in fractured bits (just like the ice in the river she drowns in. Get the connection?) So, I’ve done my best to explain my super deep authorly reasons for each “rule” and, of course, the importance of sparkles!

Rule #1Nobody can hear or see her. This rule was vital to ensure the story remained as realistic as possible. Ghosts aren’t like vampires. They don’t go around making out with humans and wearing magical daylight rings so they can meet your parents. There’s an element of sadness that follows a ghost around that none of the other paranormal beings have. Everybody else is immortal and/or super-strengthened. Ghosts are alone in a crowded room. Okay, I’m starting to feel bad for Cassidy, so I’m going to move on.

Rule #2She dissolves into glittering dust whenever she attempts to touch anyone. If you read my Behind the Pages post over at Miss-Page Turner's City of Books (post goes up June 2nd), you know that sparkling is very important to me. That dust had to shimmer and shine(!), but there’s also a reason it does. I wanted there to be a sense of wonder and panic when she realizes she can’t connect with anybody anymore. I mean, glitter is great, but I don’t want to be made of the stuff…most of the time.

Rule #3She “melts” into her memories. This one was the toughy to nail down. The water is a representation of how she died—in the half-frozen river—so she melts or thaws the same way the river did around her dead body. There was a lot of going back and forth about when she’s pulled into a memory; what triggers it? Ultimately, I chose to keep it fairly ambiguous. It seemed more meaningful if the reader was able to make that decision for him/her self. My favorite books and movies leave me wondering. It’s no fun being told what to think!

Rule #4She doesn’t remember the week leading up to her death. The easy explanation for this one is post-traumatic stress. The complex explanation is (in my crazy brain) when you die, you’re memory is swiped clean starting from the moment you die working backwards so you can start fresh in your next life. The hitch for Cassidy is she was only technically dead long enough for that short period of time to get swiped. Weren’t expecting me to get so sci-fi theological, were ya?

Rule #5She’s stuck wearing the same outfit for all of her afterlife. The tricky part with this came when she tries to reach into her pocket or unzip her coat. I played around with her being able to, say, push up her sleeve then she’d look down a second later and it would be right back where it started. That was fun and interesting to think, like is her mind playing a trick on her, but it didn’t tie back into the main theme of how isolated a lie can make you feel. She doesn’t even have her clothes to interact with anymore. Now that’s tragic!  

Bethany Neal writes young-adult novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing! She is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, and dessert.

You can find her locked in her Writertorium for insane amounts of time. But, hey, insanity is fun! My Last Kiss is her first novel.

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