I’m more nervous for HAS TO BE LOVE to be out in the world than I’ve been for a book release in a long while. This is for a few reasons, the first of which, is that I put a lot of myself into this book, and I’m not something everyone is going to understand…
So. Without further pathetic attempts at stalling… 5 reasons I wrote HAS TO BE LOVE:
- I love to see characters who are religious in some way, but where the religion doens’t drive the story or solve any problems. It just is. I really felt that Clara being Mormon was a small part of the story, but the trade reviews, most of which start with something like, CLARA, A MORMON FROM ALASKA… Or something like that, suggests otherwise. Or maybe it’s just not done that often. I could write a whole post on religious backgrounds in YA characters, but I’m not going to because I don’t have those thoughts sorted yet.
- In SO much of YA literature, the boy is the one pushing the relationship to go further, and the girl is wondering if she should give in, or not, or what she wants. This is not that book. Clara knows she’s been TAUGHT to be very chaste, but she isn’t sure how she feels about that yet. She is sure that when she’s with her boyfriend, Elias, she almost always wants more than he’ll give her. So yanno, guess what? Sometimes girls want to go further than the boys.
- Dreams beginning to come true can be terrifying – SO many fears go with the realization that you might actually GET WHAT YOU’VE DREAMED OF GETTING: Am I good enough? When will they realize I’m a fraud? What happens if I actually step into that world I thought I wanted and hate it? Will people see the real me? Or will they not see past (insert trait here – for Clara, it’s the scars on her face)?
- Sometimes we do stupid things for stupid reasons, and that almost always hurts someone around us. Maybe more than one someone. Clara is not a character who made bad choices for good reasons. She was flailing, and made rash decisions based on whims, or wants, just like we, as imperfect people, make bad decision for any one of a number of selfish reasons.
- I used so much of MY life as the setting. I used Alaska because I grew up here. I used a small town near the Mat Su Glacier as the jumping off point for Knik, Alaska. I’ve built two houses, using my own hands and arms and legs and wood and hammers, so when I made Elias part of a construction company that builds houses, I know what I’m talking about. I grew up around horses. And the fairground equipment graveyard is a real place just up the road. New York? It is sadly still on my bucket list, and I’m sad SO OFTEN that I’ve never been, but I feel that way about a lot of places.
The original title for this book was In Pieces, because it was about how Clara felt torn in pieces by her scars, her wants, her boyfriend, the new guy, her dream school… But because HAS TO BE LOVE is a line in the book, at a moment when the reader knows it is definitely NOT love… I have even more love for that. And now I’ve over-used “love” in a ridiculous manner. And I’m not done with that abuse yet…
I have so much love for this story, and so much love for how much Clara GREW during one mishap after another–most of which were her own doing. What do I hope people take away from this? Well… I’m not sure. Once a book goes to a reader, it becomes their book and not mine, but I guess I hope that people don’t let their fears about other peoeple’s perceptions hold them back.
And that’s all I have to say about that 😉
P.S. I’m giving away a MASSIVE BOX OF BOOKS this month – names will be drawn from my newsletter subscribers… See the link on the left sidebar…