When I wrote A Symphony of Cicadas, it wasn’t too hard to tell the story from Rachel’s point of view. She was a mid-30s single mother of a 13-year-old boy, preparing for her wedding. I am a mid-30s mom of a 13-year-old boy, and was preparing for my own wedding as I wrote the story (what a coincidence, lol). We both had been jaded by the dating world (before meeting our Mr. Wonderfuls), and we both were struggling with our role as stepmom and our relationship with our stepchild.
So writing from Rachel’s point of view wasn’t too difficult. It was what I knew.
Now writing from Joey’s perspective in Forever Thirteen…. That’s a whole other story.
We all remember what it was like to be 13. It was awful. I mean, truly awful. At least it was for me. I remember when I hit 7th grade, and suddenly the majority of my friends decided that I was just not cool enough to be their friend. These were the same people I had grown up with through the elementary grades, and even ridden the bus with every day. But thing is, I was the girl who wore pink Keds while theirs were all white (hey, I just really liked pink!). I wore baggy Esprit sweatshirts while they were all into LA Gear. I tried to do my hair in the classic 80s style, imitating DJ Tanner from Full House (because, let’s face it, she had awesome hair). Instead, it turned out looking more like a hairspray saturated wave that just didn’t move – even in the strongest of storms.
I was a nerd, through and through. I didn’t quite know what it took to be cool. I was constantly aware of all my shortcomings. I was sure everyone was seeing straight through me, even when I tried my best to fit in, and they were all laughing behind my back (looking back now, I bet the majority of them felt the same way).
It was a party that became my turning point.
A bunch of us were all invited to this girl’s house as kind of a “We’re in 7th grade” kind of party. My best friend had moved away the year before, and I was just trying to find myself. To have been one of the lucky people there was a total honor.
The boy I was crushing on hardcore had also been invited. I had secretly crushed on this boy for years without doing anything about it. He probably had no idea I even liked him, nor did anyone else. I was so private about it, and didn’t know how to go about letting him know or anything. Instead, I just dedicated a million songs to him in my mind, daydreamed about what it would be like to hold his hand, and practiced saying his name over and over just because I liked the way it felt to say it.
At any rate, this boy was there, and so was I. And I was sure that this was the night that this particular boy would finally notice me, and like me in spite of all my nerdish tendencies.
The party was in the backyard of this girl’s house where she was lucky enough to have her very own basketball court. There was music, and I guess there was supposed to be dancing. But instead, everyone just kind of milled around the court eating food and gabbing. Me, I watched this boy’s every move, wondering when the right time would be to let him know that we belonged together. So it didn’t escape my attention when a girl in 8th grade noticed him first, and they began kissing right in front of everyone in the middle of the basketball court.
I felt like my gut had been ripped out and stomped upon. I felt betrayed. I mean, didn’t this boy know how many years I had put into loving him and pining after him? I felt sick with heartache. And I spent the rest of the party hiding in the shadows, crying my eyes out.
When I started writing about Joey, I struggled. It’s been awhile since I was 13. However, I fully remember what it was like to be awkward, feeling like an outsider. Truthfully, I still struggle with those feelings on a daily basis! So when I felt stuck in the beginning stages of writing Forever Thirteen, I thought back to a time when I felt weird and unloved.
I thought back to the party on a basketball court in some girl’s backyard. And you can read about that party from Joey’s perspective at the end of Chapter 1.
On that note, two more weeks until the release of Forever Thirteen – March 15th!!! And this is the last weekend you can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, with a prize of an advance copy of Forever Thirteen, a copy of the first book A Symphony of Cicadas, and a $20 gift card to Starbucks. Enter HERE.