When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York—and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn’t think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari’s family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. Not real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.When misfortune befalls Blake’s family, he pulls away, and Ari’s world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?
You’re welcome, Candace! I’m very happy to be a guest on your blog. And I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed my book!
I’m really glad that you were able to visualize the setting so well. There are a few reasons why I chose to set the story during the 1980s. First of all, the 1980s are a neglected era in YA fiction. The only other YA novel I know of that is set during this decade is The Carrie Diaries. There is YA fiction set in the 1800s, 1920s, etc., so why not the 1980s? This decade is as valid historically as any other, and I believe that no time period should be restricted from the YA genre. There are stories to tell from the viewpoint of young people in every era.I thought that if teens could identify with historical fiction—time periods with cultures and values so different from now—then they could easily relate to a time period that they didn’t live through but wasn’t all that long ago. The ideals of the 1980s weren’t exactly the same as today, but they weren’t completely different, either. I also thought that adults who read YA fiction and lived through the 1980s might connect with the story.But the main reason I set Other Words for Love in the 1980s is that the story wouldn’t work in the present day. As I mentioned, culture and values weren’t radically different then, but they weren’t exactly the same as today. For example—in the novel, Ari’s sister has a baby when she is seventeen years old, and although teen pregnancy isn’t encouraged now, I think it has less of a social stigma than it had during the 80s. There was no “Teen Mom” on MTV back then! Ari is more embarrassed about her sister having been a teen mother than she might be today, and Evelyn’s choices are extremely disappointing to her parents.Also, the issue of AIDS is prevalent throughout the novel. Although AIDS unfortunately still exists, it is better understood than it was during the 80s, when it was new and many people didn’t fully comprehend how it could be contracted. There was an undercurrent of hysteria when AIDS first appeared, and this is present in Other Words for Love.Finally, although Ari is intelligent and mature, she’s also more innocent than most girls her age would be today—for various reasons. For example, the internet didn’t exist during the 1980s, so teens didn’t have as much access to information as they do now. The 1980s were more conservative than the present time—just take a look at how teens were represented in the media back then as opposed to now.
So much of that I hadn’t thought of. Those are some good points…
I think that all authors use their experiences in their writing. Some of what we write is based on experience; some is experience mixed with imagination; and some is pure fiction. Like Ari, I grew up in New York and went to a prep school, so that is one aspect of the novel that reflects my experiences. Also, I think that many of the things Ari goes through and feels are universal—we’ve all been there in one way or another.
That’s true, and that’s what I love about contemporary. It seems like no matter what we can relate in one way or another.
I had the majority of the story in mind while I was writing it, and I had a very clear vision of the major scenes. However, while I was writing, some things changed and I came up with new ideas in the process. But overall, the finished product is almost exactly what I had envisioned when I began writing the novel.
The most challenging aspect of writing this novel was getting inside the mind of the main character. So much of what takes place in the story has to do with Ari’s feelings and perceptions, and it was therefore necessary to unearth the reasons why she feels and perceives things as she does. We are all the product of our experiences, and I wanted Ari’s actions and reactions to make sense based on her experiences. In order to depict this in a credible way, I had to create her life—her interactions with her family, her friends, and her peers—in a manner that would explain why she is so affected by her relationship with her boyfriend, Blake. Another challenging aspect was portraying Blake as a sympathetic character even though he ends up damaging Ari. He also required a strong back-story to explain his actions.
I love that you brought that up. I was expecting to hate Blake. But I didn’t. I mean, I wanted to smack him a few times, but I couldn’t hate him. And at times I completely fell for him. So… great job in portraying all that!
My home office—that’s where I do all of my writing.
It would be nice to be able to fly, so I could avoid all of those pesky airport delays!
LOL, that was actually my choice too. I would like to be able to visit my family and friends that are all over the country, a lot quicker!
There are so many books that I recommend, but one that I read a few months ago and really enjoyed was What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. I really love to see the YA genre branching out into eras that aren’t typically written about in YA fiction. What I Saw and How I Lied is set during the 1940s, which is a fascinating time period. Because I liked the book so much, I’m currently reading Blundell’s latest novel—Strings Attached—which is set in 1950.
It’s funny you mention Judy Blundell. I was just looking up Strings Attached and was seeing that it was set in the 1950’s. I’m definitely going to be checking out her books!
I’m currently working on another YA novel that is set in NYC. The story and main character are different from Other Words for Love, but the novel also deals with love, family, and other relationships.
Oh, I can’t wait!
You’re very welcome!
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This giveaway ends 4/18/2011
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