(Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Between Us and the Moon
Published by HarperCollins on June 30th 2015
Genres: Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Peer Pressure, Social Issues, Young Adult
A luminous YA love story that evokes Judy Blume's Forever for a new generation. Sarah—Bean to her friends and family—is an aspiring astronomer and champion mathlete. She lives behind her beloved telescope, with her head in the stars and her feet planted firmly on the ground. For as long as she can remember, she's also lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett.But after a traumatic end to the school year, Sarah goes to Cape Cod for the summer with her family, determined to grow up. It's there that she meets gorgeous, older college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl like Scarlett. He thinks she's older, too—and she doesn't correct him.For Sarah, it's a summer of firsts. Before she knows what's happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this romantic and heartfelt coming-of-age novel about how life and love are impossible to predict.
Between Us & The Moon was on my must read list this summer so I was super excited to get an advanced copy of this … In fact, I remember doing drive-by’s of the Harper booth at ALAMW waiting for them to drop this one and I was lucky enough to grab myself a copy. I was totally invested in this story and the characters and well… basically everything, and if you missed it, you can find my review here.
When the opportunity presented itself, I asked Rebecca if we could do an interview with her because I had some burning questions that I needed answers to!! Lucky for us she agreed!
Describe Between Us & The Moon in 5 words:
Personal, honest, romantic, Cape Cod, summer love (6 words?)
You’ve written in a couple different genres – Paranormal and now contemporary do you have a preference?
I don’t – which I suppose is weird. I know that when I think back on writing Infinite Days, Lenah’s voice came to me quickly and authentically. It was a book that came very much from my soul (cue cheesy music) or to put it another way, a very artistic place. Bean in, Between Us and The Moon, came about similarly. I write from an emotional place, so I can discover the character, who she is, and what she has to say about her world. I allowed Lenah in Infinite Days to dictate the world and the setting – it all came from her. For Bean, I knew that I wanted to capture an emotional time in my life when I was a teenager. So, the settings and the worlds that are captured in the book come from the emotional space of the character. With MOON, it’s a bit different because I melded together bits of Chatham, Cape Cod and Orleans, Cape Cod, which are obviously real places. I would say that Chatham, Cape Cod makes its way into nearly every single one of my books.
Where did the idea for Between Us & The Moon come from?
Between Us And The Moon came from a semi-autobiographical experience in which I told a lie repeatedly one summer on Cape Cod that I was 18 when I was in fact, 15. I looked much older especially when wearing an American flag string bikini on the beach. I got away with the lie easily. At the time I was concerned with having fun and making connections with people – to me, at 15, there was magic in playing with my identity. Through the process of writing Between Us And The Moon, I uncovered the severity of the lie I told as well as my own emotional motivations that fueled the need to falsify my identity. When discussing the novel more recently, many women have confessed that they did the same exact thing when they were young. I think that young people want meaningful experiences, especially passionate and intense experiences; I know I certainly did. This book, in many ways, is a love letter to my 15-year-old self. It’s what I wish I had to read when I was 15: to cope or to help me understand my own emotional motivations and problems. It’s perhaps more personal than I initially intended.
I know why I love Sarah and Andrew… but why do you love them and why should the readers?
Andrew sees Sarah for who she really is. While I knew that the lie Sarah tells will be hard for some readers, it’s paramount to the themes of the novel and to Sarah’s overall change. Bean’s conflict comes from her paralyzing, bone crushing fear that she’s not loveable unless she’s “exciting,” “interesting,” and “like Scarlett.”
Over the course of the novel, the lie about Bean’s age becomes less and less important in her eyes because Andrew is seeing who she really is. They do actually love one another, they do actually deserve to be together, which is the sadness at the core of the lesson that Bean eventually learns. As I said, Andrew sees Sarah, he accepts Sarah, and he falls in love with her quirky scientific brain. Andrew isn’t in a great place either. He’s coming off of this horrible tragedy, he’s living with serious survivor’s guilt, and Sarah breezes in, completely living in the moment, and in many ways saves him. They save each other.
Andrew is…well there’s no other way to say it… he’s swoony and I loved everything about him, and can totally see why Sarah can’t resist. How do you create a swoony guy?
I’m a sucker and a complete romantic. I wear my heart on my sleeve at all times, which gets me into trouble more often than I’d like. In many ways, I’m like Sarah and Andrew. I created Andrew from a combination of a few guys & experiences in my past and tried to capture the essence of one particular experience the summer when I was 15. It also came down to character. If each character could give the other something they needed then they could were compatible. I wanted to capture Andrew’s heart and the walls he put up after his friend’s death to show how Sarah, just simply by being herself, is able to knock those boundaries down. Also – he has muscles. Tanned skin. Cape Cod lifeguards. SWOON. Seriously go to Nauset Beach in Orleans, Cape Cod. Walk down the shore past all the lifeguard chairs. HOLY BALONY.
Sarah does some very questionable things in this story, and readers might have a very strong reaction to that. How hard was it writing this knowing that there is a very strong reality that people won’t love her because of the decisions she makes. Was it easy to watch her make those choices and let it happen?
I did know that this book would be polarizing. I suppose when I wrote it I put it out of my mind, but I know, and I knew then too, that somewhere out there is a kid who maybe feels a little invisible, a little too smart, but she knows her family loves her. She knows they love her, they want the best for her, and that they absolutely have no idea who she really is. She wants to be different, but she’s insecure. She doesn’t have the emotional capacity like you and me (grown ups) to make mature decisions. She has to act and then learn because that’s what young people do (and also some 30-somethings…cough, cough). She wants so desperately to be “accepted,” and “loved” in a grown up way that she might go out there on the beach one day and tell a lie of this magnitude. Granted, 2015 is wildly different than 1995, but human emotion is the same. I wanted to write this book for the 15-yr-old that I was and for the one out there who maybe feels like who she is may not be good enough. My hope is to show her through Bean’s experience that she has value and she is worth it.
As for this part of your question: Was it easy to watch her make those choices and let it happen?
Many times I paced my house with a cup of coffee going – “Oh. No. No, no, no, no, no, no…ugh I have to do this don’t I?”
And then ten minutes later.
“Yep. I do.”
I guess I would say this: Write the book your character needs. Write that book. Worry about what people will think later when it’s done and you’ve captured her journey, no matter how messy, how unlikeable, and how risky. Yes, of course I’m worried that people won’t like Bean, but Bean is 15. Bean is only (SPOILER ALERT) able to tell Andrew the truth once she learns this lesson: you are beautiful & smart. And you have everything you need.
Were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish would have stayed in?
Wow, interesting question. No. My editor, Jocelyn Davies is a genius (and a great writer too, which seems unfair to be that talented! I’m serious!). She absolutely got the vision of this book right from the start and successfully showed me when scenes weren’t working. That’s something I would suggest for all aspiring writers. Trust that your editors & agents know more than you do. They definitely, definitely do. Trust the process, kill your darlings, and save the scenes you love for a book you will write later. Did I mention that Jocelyn is amazing? TEAM DAVIES.
That ending was just… perfection. But I won’t lie, I would love to know more about what the future holds for these two. Would that ever be something you’d possibly consider or do you think you left them in the perfect spot?
Thank you! Excuse the cliché, but you have no idea how much that means to me. I have thought about this question a lot lately. There is something so important about your first love – the one that taught you all the lessons about love, anger, and sadness in relationships. Sometimes you get a second chance with that person and you find one another a few years later but you’re different, you’ve changed.
If this was a story about Bean and Andrew finally getting together and what that would be like, it would need to have a compelling, emotional reason. I feel, right now anyway, that the chapter is closed between them. I could see her coming back after the summer of her senior year in high school and maybe she really is going to MIT, but too much damage was done in the past. How do you rebuild someone’s trust? I think I could explore that, but even as I write this to you, I feel like I’m reaching. I have to find what Bean’s story would be. I could definitely explore the story from Andrew’s pov. Who knows! I guess anything is possible.
Did any of your characters surprise you by doing something you didn’t expect?
I didn’t expect Bean to hold onto that lie for so long, but I knew as I kept drafting that there was no other choice. Psychologically, she has to get to the lowest possible point before she can shed the skin of her old self and become “Sarah” instead of Bean.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee
Music – vinyl
I usually have to go for a run first.
When you read a real book, what do you use as a bookmark?
Dog-ear! (boring but true). I write all over my books as well, which I am sure drive some people BONKERS.
What are you currently reading?
Circus Mirandus – Cassie Beasley
Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger
Map To Everywhere – Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis
Any advice for aspiring writers?
I think I would echo what I said before. Be true to the character. Don’t force your characters into situations because you think they need to be there. Any time I have done that I’ve been wrong and the story suffered. Consistently ask yourself – “what does my character want?” and if you can’t answer it (the more specific the better), your book is dead in the water.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
I’m just finishing up my next YA book with Harper Collins, which is slated for next summer called, A Season For Fireflies. All I can say for now is…lightning strike!
Favorite Song (right now): Anything Otis Reading & anything by Jenny Lewis (I have SUCH a girl crush on her).
Favorite Book (right now): I’m pretty bonkers about Skila Brown’s Caminar a MG verse novel about a young boy in the Guatemalan civil war. As for YA, I loved Golden by Jessi Kirby
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Show: Walking Dead (I’m still hoping we can bring Beth back.
Movie: Safety Not Guaranteed
Favorite Word: coffee! J
Favorite Color: cobalt blue
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions Rebecca and thank you so much for the following!!
You guys – Rebecca has graciously sent me a Between Us & The Moon hardcover and swag for one lucky blog follower! Make your follow the rules (i.e. – go to our giveaways page & make sure you are a follower!)