My Beating Teenage Heart: child of the universe edition

My Beating Teenage Heart: child of the universe edition

I've seldom been so happy to see the back of a summer month as I was when August hit. July outright sucked on multiple levels. But so far August has been a breath of fresh air (thank you, universe!)—and not just because our air conditioning was finally, finally fixed after twenty-seven days. So many things started to look up after July bit the dust that I thought there must have been some major astrological shift going on in my chart (not that I really believe in that, but sometimes you have to wonder...).

Anyway, with the release of Yesterday just around the corner I plan to do some blogging about the 80s in August and September—music, technology, movies and TV, that sort of thing. I was sixteen in 1985 like Yesterday's main character, Freya, and there are times I wish I could go back for a visit and see how close some my rose-coloured glasses memories of the place are to the truth.

I also want to celebrate the same-day (September 25th) paperback release of My Beating Teenage Heart. You may remember that the hardcover looked like this:

My Beating Teenage Heart hardcover

Pretty creepy and atmospheric. The main thing the paperback cover has in common with its predecessor is that there's a a close-up of the girl on the cover. But the vibe of it is markedly different, I think. The paperback screams child of the universe which is pretty damn cool. And though I'm not one for faces on covers (I much prefer to imagine what a character looks like) I think this, thankfully, still leaves much of Ashlyn's appearance to imagination. I love its vibrancy.

My Beating Teenage Heart paperback

Before last September's hardcover release of My Beating Teenage Heart I wrote a brief essay for Amazon which somehow got lost in the shuffle and was never posted, but that I'd like to share with you now:

The kind of books I love to write are solidly rooted in reality, books that focus on ordinary young people living ordinary lives but who are at a point in their lives where whatever is happening to them feels anything but ordinary. They've lost their best friend because of a line that's been crossed. They've been the victim of violence and as a result have lost their sense of trust and well-being. They've fallen in love but have been unable to hold on to it. None of these things are unusual experiences, but they matter; people's emotional lives matter. We're not just the things we do or the things that happen to us—we're how we feel about those things.

When it came to writing My Beating Teenage Heart, I wanted to write the sort of book I've described above. But after penning many YA manuscripts that were strictly contemporary in nature (three of which have already seen the light of day), I also wanted to try something a little different.

So I wrote a story about two teenage characters, Breckon and Ashlyn, whose lives are intertwined, although they don't actually know each other. Breckon is grieving the death of his younger sister and holds himself responsible for her death to the extent that it's tearing him apart inside. Meanwhile, Ashlyn, when she becomes aware of her own existence, is a consciousness without a body, at first falling through a sea of stars and then completely tethered to a boy who is oblivious to her presence. Ashlyn sees everything Breckon does. She becomes his constant witness and has no idea why. In fact, she has only the most basic inkling of who she is and initially she wants nothing more than to be free of Breckon and his anguish.

I approached My Beating Teenage Heart as though it were based in reality, the same way I did with my previous books. While the situation is out of the ordinary (at least as far as our understanding of life goes), at heart it's very much the story of two teenagers' emotional lives. I hope reading the details of Breckon and Ashlyn's story makes you care about how they feel about things they've done and the things that have happened to them—that would mean I've done right by them.

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