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Eighteen year-old Summer Barnes is ready to end it all. Even though she‘s now in Paris, the most romantic city in the world, she’s been kicked out of yet another boarding school for drinking, smoking, snorting and flunking.
Then Summer meets an awesome Arab guy, nicknamed Moony, at the Paris American International School where they’re both seniors; and mysterious Kurt while she’s out scoping a celebrity cemetery. He’s so hot, he may be out of her league.
Moony barely survived a horrific car crash as a kid. He’s totally upbeat about life and he wants Summer to embrace her own, maybe starting with a little less solo champagne drinking? Summer needs Moony’s friendship desperately, but no way will he put up with her bad choices much longer.
Kurt, on the other hand, is all about self-destructive fun. It gets harder and harder for Summer to resist him. He wants her to understand that life, and death, are in her own hands.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up in Texas and Arkansas, the daughter of a Yankee father and a southern mom. We moved a fair amount when I was a kid and before I was eighteen I had also lived in New Mexico and Arizona. As an adult I spent almost two decades overseas (in the Middle East and Europe). I’ve also lived in New York City and San Francisco, the latter being home base now. I’m married and have four kids, the youngest of whom is still in high school. The older three somehow made it to young adulthood, knock wood. All these moves and kids have made me a little hysterical. And I don’t mean funny.
2. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Many things were hard about writing this story, not least that it’s ultimately about suicide and I had to spend a lot of time inside the head of a depressed and suicidal 18 year-old. But revising it a million times was even harder.
3. What is your writing process like?
My writing process is routine. Butt in chair, every day. But I also have so many wonderful ways to procrastinate. I try to honor each and every one of them, and sometimes they even serve productively as time to stew and compost. Which is what I think my brain does before it can spit out something creative. I also like to snack while I write.
4.What advice would you give your younger self?
To commit to writing earlier. To begin studying the craft of writing carefully and thoroughly as soon as possible and write and read more. There’s a lot more to learn than I imagined, and than can be covered in one lifetime.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have SO many favorite authors. You are one of my most recent ones, as I loved THE ONE THING. But here are some others I admire, although this is just scratching the surface:
Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Thornton Wilder, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jeffrey Eugenides, Annie Proulx, Ursula Le Guin, Michael Cunningham, Madeline L’Engle, Polly Horvath, Sharon Creech, Nancy Farmer, Rebecca Stead, Walter Dean Myers, Robert Cormier, Richard Peck, Jack Gantos, Gary Schmidt, Rita Williams-Garcia, Margo Lanagan, Libba Bray, Emily Lockhart, Jandy Nelson, Andrew Smith.
Most of these authors are on my list because there is at least one book they wrote that I love wholeheartedly. But it’s hard to like everything an author writes. Even the very best have some mediocre in them. This is reassuring to me because conversely, maybe once or twice the mediocre can turn out something truly exceptional.
Ann Jacobus’s debut YA thriller, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is out October 6, 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan. She earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in San Francisco with her family and lap dog, Louie.
Say hi to Ann on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.