We have a special post for you today because we got to interview Shannon Lee Alexander, author of LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES and the upcoming LIFE AFTER JULIET! We sat down with Shannon to get the scoop on LIFE AFTER JULIET, which releases on July 5th, 2016, so you guys get to see some fun Q&A. You can also find an excerpt from the book below, so make sure you scroll down! But first, let’s learn more about the book.Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander
Published by Entangled: Teen on July 5th 2016
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people...
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
BAMF: What is the best part about being an author?
Shannon Lee Alexander: This right here is the best part about being an author! I love getting to meet amazing bookish people who share my passion for books and stories. I love talking about our favorite books and swooning over characters together. I love the way books open us up to new experiences and people, both in the pages of the stories and in real life.
BAMF: What were the hardest scenes for you to write in LIFE AFTER JULIET?
Shannon Lee Alexander: The scenes that got cut! There was this whole subplot that wasn’t quite right for the book, and I should have known the scenes weren’t right because writing them was painful.
BAMF: Do you find it difficult to balance being an author with the other aspects in your life?
Shannon Lee Alexander: I would be the worst high wire act in the history of circus. Balance is not a thing at which I excel. I’ve been practicing yoga for twenty years now, and while I can balance on the mat (most days), I’m a mess everywhere else! When I’m scoring big points in the mom zone, I feel guilty about shirking writing duties. And when I’m grinding out page after page of a writing project, then I feel like a terrible mom. I’m working on letting go of all that guilt and grossness, I really am! That’s what the yoga’s for!
BAMF: Which of your characters did you find it easiest to write in LIFE AFTER JULIET?
Shannon Lee Alexander: Each character came pretty easily for me. I don’t remember struggling much with anyone. I love character development though, so I know everyone (even the bit part characters) intimately by the end of a book. I’m so into characterization that I end up developing way too many characters. I tend to have these giant casts of characters during early drafts that have to be trimmed down to essential personnel only.
I guess the most difficult character to work with was Mr. Owens, the overly dramatic and egocentric drama teacher. My drama teacher was NOTHING like him. I want that on record. Janice Vertucci Shreiber is NOTHING like Anthony W. Owens. She was like a second mother to us drammies and techies, nurturing our love of theater and ourselves. The idea that a teacher could be so uninvolved in his students’ best interests was too foreign to me to ever feel comfortable around him.
BAMF: What is your number one relationship advice to teenagers?
Shannon Lee Alexander: Oh, my goodness! What a question!
Um, wow. Okay…I’m going to go with a piece of advice Becca gave her brother Charlie before his first date. Be yourself.
I think that’s the best you can do. But I also want to add that it’s okay if you’re not entirely sure who you are yet. You’re growing into the self you’ll be one day. I’m forty now, and I’m still growing into the self I’ll be one day.
So, be yourself, but also give yourself the grace to grow and change and make huge mistakes and fail spectacularly. Then pick yourself up and start again.
*There’s a scene in Just Friends that I always think of when I’m struggling to be true to myself. I’m attaching the GIF in the email. Perhaps you can use it? It’s no big deal if you can’t, but I swear, this is what I think of everytime I give myself this advice!
BAMF: What do you hope readers take from LIFE AFTER JULIET?
Shannon Lee Alexander: Grief isn’t a thing that you get over. When you love someone and lose them, that loss becomes a part of you. You can’t fill the whole or patch it or ignore it (well, you can ignore it for a while, but that’ll get you in the end, so just don’t try that). The grief will be there always.
But you’ll learn to carry it. If you were strong enough to love someone than you are strong enough to grieve for them, too.
BAMF: If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Shannon Lee Alexander: Be yourself, dummy! Stop being what everyone else thinks you should be (or what you think everyone else thinks you should be).
BAMF: What differences did you encounter writing LIFE AFTER JULIET than LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES?
Shannon Lee Alexander: The process of writing these books was very different. LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES (LAOUV) took six years from conception to bookshelf. LIFE AFTER JULIET (LAJ) took three. When I started LAOUV, I was writing purely for myself, challenging myself to finish a second novel-length story (the first was horrible and we shall never speak of it again). Over years and countless revisions, it became a way for me to deal with my grief over losing my friend Em to cancer. I felt free to explore and take my time and see where the characters and story led me in LAOUV, and it was a wonderful (and heart wrenching) experience.
LAJ began when my editor asked, “What happens to Becca?” I’d never considered writing a companion to LAOUV. I thought I was done with that world and those characters, but when she asked that question, I suddenly NEEDED to know what happens to Becca.
It took longer for me to be comfortable writing Becca’s story than Charlie’s, not because I was less connected to Becca, but because I had some stupid idea in my head that since I was a published author I had to do things a certain way (like make an outline—for the record, I HATE outlines and will never make one again). LAJ became this very plot-heavy beast that was zero fun to write, and I think it was evident that the writer wasn’t having any fun in the earliest draft. Eventually, I had to throw my first (and second) plots away and start over with the more character driven story that you see in the pages of LAJ.
Another hurdle when writing LAJ was that I suddenly felt the weight of other people’s expectations for the characters and story. LAOUV was written in a vacuum. No one knew the characters until the book was released. But with LAJ, lots of people have already met Becca (and love her), which means that they are bringing with them expectations for LAJ that LAOUV never had. When I realized this, I became creatively paralyzed for a long while. I was terrified of “getting Becca wrong,” until I realized that until the book comes out, she’s mine. I can’t “get her wrong” as long as I’m writing her from my heart.
Writing LAOUV taught me to be persistent in my writing. Writing LAJ taught me to be authentic in my writing, which for me means focusing on building relationships and exploring new experiences alongside my characters.
His affirmation makes me stronger. “ She had cancer—brain tumors that metastasized. You probably remember that, too. Anyway, she had this tattoo.” I point to the spot where my neck meets my shoulder. “ I loved that tattoo. I used to doodle it in my notebooks in class. Infinity and hope.”
I’m surprised at how comfortable I am. Sharing Charlotte with the darkened theater is easy. It feels like the heaviness is leaching away from me with every word. I squint into the light toward the booth, but I can’t make out Max’s expression. “ I was just an outline of a girl when Charlotte arrived. She filled in all the lines with color and life and, I don’t know, good stuff.”
I’m standing at the edge of the stage. Below me the orchestra pit is a gaping mouth. The music stands glint in the spotlight like braces on crooked teeth. “ Now that she’s gone, I feel unmade again.”
Don’t miss Shannon’s other novel…
Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck. The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy. By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).
Published by Entangled: Teen on October 7th 2014
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.
The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.
By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).