Today I'm so lucky to have the famous Janet Gurtler on the blog for her Kiss N' Tell blog tour, celebrating the release of Who I Kissed.
Author Body-Swapping: As a YA writer, Janet Gurtler often has to embody the lives and emotions of her character. This time, we’re asking her to channel Sam and tell us some of the character insight we’re dying to know – first crush, most embarrassing moment, favorite books, music, & more! And Janet reveals a little of how she creates such realistic teen characters.
“Sam, Sam, Sam. What are we going to do with you?”
If you can’t tell, I’m using my mother voice. Also I’m talking to a fictitious character. But we’ll ignore that part. When I write teen characters I have to turn my mother voice off. (And embrace the crazy.) Truth be known, I am able to remove my mother voice pretty easily and I find it kind of natural to slip inside the head of a teenager.
I had a tough time when I was a teenager. I had a lot of internal struggles. I majored in insecurity and angst. And I remember many of those feelings really well. Really, really well.
So, getting inside the head of a teenager isn’t as hard for me as if should be. Of course, my characters aren’t me. I give them different challenges and different personality quirks. And then I have to try to think the way they would think. I have to slip into their shoes.
Fortunately, I enjoy imagining getting inside a character’s head. I like to go deep inside and look at things people sometimes try to hide. From themselves and from the world. I like to go there. To places that are uncomfortable. Especially with the challenges of today’s world around them. Technology. Expectations. Social media.
I took Samantha to some uncomfortable places in Who I Kissed. Imagine feeling responsible for the death of someone else. How horrifying would that be? How would you possibly get over it? Especially when you’re dealing with your own issues. Sam had some things to overcome even before the accident, but the accident brought them to the surface with a rush. Ultimately, Sam has to learn to let other people in. And that’s not always an easy thing to do. To me she’s a fully formed person with a history and built in likes and dislikes. So let’s take a deeper look at Sam. Let me slide back into her skin for a moment and tell you some of her secrets.
Favorite Book- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Favorite Song- Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae
Favorite Movie- The Avengers
Favorite Food- Jelly Bellies of course! But as far as real food goes, she likes Mexican. Bean Burritos. Even though they give her gas. She probably wouldn’t eat them on a date.
First serious crush. Zee. First heart aches. Zee. Best kiss ever. Zee.
Celebrity Crush- Corbin Bleu. She is waiting for his acting career to extend beyond High school Musical
Personal Hero- Missy Franklin
Secret Talent- Sam loves to dance. She practices in her room with her iPod. At some point, she’s going to try to convince her swim team to record a dance dare (dancing behind people without them knowing) for the Ellen show. She knows every dance step to Party Rockin by LMFAO.
Most Embarrassing Moment- When her bathing suit split down the butt at a swim meet and she had to finish her race, which was thankfully backstroke.
Candace her now, Thanks so much for the wonderful post! I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian! SUCH a fabulous book! Sam definitely has some good taste. ;)
She never thought a kiss could kill…
Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in...and she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms.
Was she really the only person in the entire school who didn’t know about his peanut allergy? Or that eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing him would be deadly? Overnight Sam turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she’ll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.
Sam was such a great character. She's a really good girl who doesn't drink or do drugs. She's very focused and dedicated to her swimming. She recently moved to a new school and it's been her chance to start over. So she's starting to make friends and life is going good. But then she kisses a boy she just met in a moment of weakness. It was only a moment, but that kiss causes his death because he's allergic to peanuts and she had ate a peanut butter sandwich. Sam is riddled with guilt and she can't even climb out of bed for some time. She stops swimming, she stops trying to have friends and she just lays there in her guilt. And all of this, her reaction to it all, felt real to me. I thought the grief/guilt stuff was written very well. Sam starts to come out of it and the majority of the book is her finding her way. Getting forgiveness from Alex's friends and family and dealing with the teasing and tormenting at school and just moving forward.
Sam's father and her aunt are important characters in the story and I really loved that. My initial thought was that her father would be a control freak, but it came apparent quickly that he's not, he really truly loves his daughter and only wants the very best for her. And Sam's aunt is a quirky lady who is wicked smart and really knows some tricks to get Sam back to herself.
There is some romance in the book, some good and some bad, but it was part of her journey and while some of it made me scream at her in frustration (in a good way!) it brought her to the place she needed to be. We all make mistakes and Sam is no different. And I thought the ending was pretty perfect. I definitely recommend this book and it will make you think about nut allergies a bit more. Maybe you'll be more cautious when packing a child's lunch, or just washing your hands after eating peanuts when in public. Nut allergies are a serious thing that people die from every year, we shouldn't make protecting those with the allergies an 'inconvenience'.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review, all opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
About the author:
Make sure you check out Janet on her blog!
About the author:
Make sure you check out Janet on her blog!
Sourcebooks Fire is generously giving away one copy of Who I Kissed to one lucky person!
Open to US/Canada.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Ends Nov. 7th, 2012
Please fill out the rafflecopter to enter.