Archive for October, 2014

Cover Reveal for DRIVE ME CRAZY!!

October 15th, 2014 by Terra | 1 Comment | Filed in Drive Me Crazy

I have been so excited about my new book, Drive Me Crazy, for a very long time for very many reasons:  1) It is my first foray into middle grade, and it was SO FUN to write;  2) Writing it meant I got to work once again with my former Simon Pulse editor, Anica Rissi,  and join the team of fabulous authors writing for Katherine Tegen Books;  3)  Drive Me Crazy is both a friendship story AND a road trip story (with some great grandparents in there too), and I love all those things; 4) LOOK AT THIS GORGEOUS COVER!!

As we get closer to publication (not until April 2015), I will be writing more about Drive Me Crazy and what went into writing it, but for now let’s all gaze upon the fun and pretty for awhile.


Here’s what Drive Me Crazy will be about:

Buckle up…

Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana’s Grandpa Howe and Cassie’s Grandma Tess two months ago. They didn’t exactly hit it off—in fact, depending on who you ask, that first meeting was either an embarrassment or a disaster—but they’re about to spend an entire week together, just the two of them and their honeymooning grandparents, road-tripping in Cassie’s grandmother’s Subaru.

Lana thinks a summer road trip sounds like fun, but the backseat is a crowded place for two tween girls with two huge secrets to hide, and this bumpy road to friendship is full of unexpected twists and turns. Like it or not, they’re in this together, full speed ahead on the adventure of a lifetime.

Disappearing Into Kiss Kill Vanish with Jessica Martinez

October 8th, 2014 by Terra | 1 Comment | Filed in Talking with Other Authors

I have been a Jessica Martinez fan ever since her first book, Virtuosity, came out in in 2011. Her contemporary realism is exactly that–contemporary (as in, relevant and timely) and very, very real. There are no easy fixes, no simple characters, and no bow-tied endings, and it’s what I admire and like about her work. Her newest novel, Kiss Kill Vanish takes all of this to an entirely new level, and I’m excited to share it with you. Here’s what it’s about, and what Jessica had to say in response to my million questions:

Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.


TEM:  Kiss Kill Vanish was a bit of a departure for you. Not that your books aren’t wonderful and intense, but they don’t usually involve murder. Or explosions. How was it taking this on?

JM:  In a word, intimidating. I had a few “I don’t even know what I’m doing here!” moments that I had to force myself through, but ultimately, I decided I’d rather fail at doing something new than write a less-than-inspired novel in my comfort zone.

Confession: I wrote this book without an outline. With my earlier character-driven contemp novels, I’ve felt like plotting got in the way of discovering who my characters wanted to become. I did intend to be a little more structured in the writing of Kiss Kill Vanish, but honestly, I failed at that. Most of the time the plot was this great tangle of wires in my head. I was never entirely sure if they were going to connect properly, which lead to more than a few sleepless nights. But brains are weird things. They can figure out big complex problems (like thriller plots) if you give them enough time and trust them to work it out. So I never did sit down and figure out the plot on paper. I just wrote it.

TEM:  Both of the main settings of this book –Miami and Montreal—feel like characters themselves, and add so much to the deliciousness. Can you just talk about that a bit? Why and how you did it?

JM:  Thank you! I wanted Kiss Kill Vanish to have an international/film noir feel to it, and that meant getting the danger and allure of those two cities right. You can be wandering around either city and suddenly wonder if you’re in Marseille or Buenos Aires, and that’s exactly what I want my readers to experience. I’d spent time in Montreal and Miami, but visited both again while writing so I could choose the right details. I needed enough to make them sexy and mysterious, but not so much that the setting would weigh the plot down. That’s always important to me. I know if I pick the wrong details or use too many, readers will skim. (Ahem, I know this because I may sometimes do this.)

TEM:   So much of young adult out there romanticizes wealth, but your descriptions of the pros and cons of the ultra-luxe lifestyle felt so real, and sometimes highly critical. Was this intentional for you or did it simply happen?

JM:  It was intentional. I wanted to highlight how Valentina is becoming aware of money for the first time. She’s taken wealth (and most other things in her life) for granted, but the shock of what she sees and discovers about her family forces her to look at everything fresh.

TEM:  Valentina eventually grows into such a badass during Kiss Kill Vanish, but she starts out at a very low point, and occasionally it’s tough to root for her. Why was showing this extreme growth important to you, and to the novel?

JM:  I’m so glad you found hard to root for and eventually badass! And now to explain myself. First of all, I write what I want to read. I have no interest in reading about characters who already have life figured out, I’m annoyed by characters who make nothing but choices I would make, and I’m disturbed by any suggestion that female characters must be constantly likeable in order for readers to enjoy their stories. (I won’t go off on this tangent entirely, but people rarely hold male characters up to the same “likeable” expectations. And that’s messed up.) Honestly? Likeability never crossed my mind while writing Valentina. Because I don’t care. I care that she’s interesting. I care that she learns something. I loved making her a balance of flaws and strengths (like, um, a real person), and I tried to give her a fascinating situation to navigate that would pull readers in.

TEM: So, the boys of the story. Neither Emilio, Lucien, nor Marcel are the standard “swoon-worthy” boys you see in a lot of YA. What’s up with that?

JM:  Again, it’s back to what I love to read. I never fall in love with a character because of his physical description. I don’t fall in love with him if he’s unrealistically sweet either. I want different, intriguing, real, and yes, maybe a bit of a bad boy (but let’s not psychoanalyze me here). I want Valentina to have to struggle to overlook major things with these guys. She needs complex men/boys to muddy her situation and make everything less obvious. Her confusion is a big part of both the character development and plot, so I couldn’t give her any obvious choices as far as love interests either.

TE:  You’ve got four books under your belt now. How do you feel yourself growing and evolving as a writer thanks to them?

JM:  Four? Seriously? How did that happen?

I’m more confident in the process now. Writing a book is such a thrilling-traumatic-hopeless experience, but I’ve done it enough times that I now know the miserable moments are necessary. Also, I no longer feel pinned to a certain genre. I know I can branch out and try other things, and I might create something awesome or something really terrible. And if it’s terrible, it doesn’t mean I’m a terrible writer. The growth is worth the risk.

I’ve also learned how different writing is from publishing. There’ve been times when I’ve let the highs and lows of publishing affect my writing, but finally, four books in, I understand importance of keeping the two separate. My writing is best when I protect it from the business of writing.

TEM:   Obviously you have been to Miami. Favorite restaurants/spots/activities there?

JM:  Sure! I used to live in Coconut Grove (just down the street from Vizcaya and the marina—both places highlighted in KKV), so I highly recommend the Grove for shopping and cool restaurants. Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar was a favorite of ours. Nothing beats South Beach for perfect sand, and celeb spotting (and, um, naked people spotting—it’s very European.) Tours of Vizcaya gardens and mansion are pretty amazing, too, and right beside Vizcaya is the bridge to Key Biscayne. That bridge was my daily run! You can often see dolphins jumping from the running path. Warning: if it’s summer, don’t do this run after 7 a.m. YOU’LL ROAST TO DEATH.

TEM:  If Valentina, Annie (from The Vow), Amelia and Charly (from The Space Between Us), and Carmen (from Virtuosity) got together and had a slumber party, what do you think they’d end up doing and talking about?

JM: Ha! I love this question. Charly and Valentina would be playing truth or dare. Annie and Carmen would be deep in boyfriend talk. And Amelia? She’d be rolling her eyes at everybody, but she wouldn’t be going to sleep, because that would be lame.


Thanks, Jessica, and thanks readers. If you are unfamiliar with any of these books–check them out now!