Wednesday, 13 January 2010

PSnarkiversary: Jennifer Echols (Going Too Far)

Jennifer Echols is the author of my favourite book for 2009 - Going Too Far. A deserving nominee for ALA's Best Book for Young Adults, it's sure to capturing your interest, having you chuckling at the wit and swooning at the snappy romance. Welcome Jenn!

Adele asked me to guest-blog about why I have finally written a sequel to The Boys Next Door, which was published in summer 2007. The sequel, Endless Summer, will appear on August 3, 2010, and here’s why.

As I originally conceived it, my first novel, Major Crush, was the first in a series of four romantic comedies. They were all set in the same high school marching band, but each one involved a different couple. I love marching band and I could have written marching band books for the rest of my life if my publisher had let me. However, when I sold Major Crush to Simon Pulse, one of the stipulations was that my second book would NOT be about marching band. That was too much marching band for them. So I gave up on the idea of creating a book that could have sequels.

Now another secret: just because you have published a book does not mean it is easy to get your next book published. My editor and I went round and round and round and round about what my next book would be. I had an idea for a novel about two rival brothers in a rock band fighting over the same girl. I had another idea about a treasure hunt at the lake where I grew up. My editor did not like either of these ideas, or the other twenty I had submitted to her, and finally she told me to take the rival brothers idea, nix the rock band, and set the novel at the lake.

I was devastated. I knew nobody would ever want to read this book. I mean, who would want to spend time at the lake where I grew up, without a treasure hunting plot to distract them? I have always loved my lake, but I thought nobody else would. And in that spirit, I created a heroine a lot like me whom nobody else would think was funny. I turned the book in, thinking I had fulfilled my contract and entertained myself, but my editor would hate it, and that would be the end of my writing career.

To my astonishment, my editor did like The Boys Next Door, and so did some other people. Readers e-mailed me to ask for a sequel. I thought about proposing this for my next book, but remember I had given up on the sequel idea. Also, there would have been a year between the publication of The Boys Next Door and its sequel, and I thought that was too long. I proposed a lot of other books instead, and my publisher did not buy any of them.

The next year I thought about proposing a sequel to The Boys Next Door, but there would have been two years between it and the sequel, and I thought that was too long. I proposed a lot of other books instead, and my publisher asked me to write a snowboarding book.

The next year I thought about proposing a sequel to The Boys Next Door, but there would have been three years between it and the sequel, and I thought that was waaaaay too long. I proposed a lot of other books instead. My publisher liked one of them. We went round and round about it. It was set in Atlanta. My publisher asked me to set it in Paris. This made me angry because it seemed apropos of nothing and I was tired of going round and round about my book ideas, all sixty of which had been BRILLIANT I tell you (you need a lot of hubris to make it in this business). Over the weekend I wrote the first chapter of Endless Summer, which was from Adam’s point of view. As far as I know, none of the other books in the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies series contain a boy’s point of view, so I didn’t have high hopes for it getting through editorial. It was, however, BRILLIANT. And to my astonishment, they liked it and wanted to see more. So I added a chapter from Lori’s point of view on the front, then created another few chapters that alternated between Lori and Adam’s points of view, and Simon Pulse bought it.Then the fun part began. You know all that stuff that other people don’t quite get, but that you and I enjoy about The Boys Next Door? Well, there’s MORE of that in Endless Summer. I had always known exactly what would happen in the sequel if I were ever to write it, and since it had three years to cook in my brain, I think it has come out exactly as we wanted it. Especially the forest scene. And the beach scene. And the tree house scene. I have tried my best to live up to my reputation as the YA version of crack (hubris, remember, hubris is very important), and I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you to Jenn for taking the time to explain her thought process in writing a sequel many of us are longing to read. Jenn has several books released this year that you should keep an eye out for. Endless Summer (Simon Pulse) is released August 3rd and Forget You (MTV Books) is released July 2010.

Check out her website and blog through this portal.


Kathy Charles said...

Thank you Jennifer for such a candidly honest post about the ups and downs of the writing biz. I've just ordered Going Too Far from Amazon and after hearing so many great reviews about it I can't wait to read it!

Loretta Nyhan said...

Going Too Far was definitely one of my favorites of 2009. John After was oh-so-yummy...

And this was such an interesting post! I love reading about how great books are born. I look forward to lots of good reading in 2010.

Sara said...

haha great post! I look forward to read Endless Summer even if it has been three years since the release of The Boys Next Door! (Which I actually read last fall)!

Pens said...

Jennifer Echols writes wonderful books, and I really loved Going Too Far. Looking forward to her new releases this year! Thanks for the interview :)

Daisy Whitney said...

Really interesting look at the back and forth between writers and editors!

Jennifer Echols said...

Thanks y'all! I just finished a new manuscript on Wednesday, and I hope this one has an easier time--whew!

Daisy Whitney said...


I read the Ex Games last week and based on my affection for that book and on your praise for Jen, I just bought The Boys Next Door too.