April 1, 2013

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi + Interview!

My Life After Now
Title: My Life After Now
Author: Jessica Verdi
Series: N/A
Source: Publisher for blog tour
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Goodreads||The Book Depository
Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

I was really nervous about starting My Life After Now, because I really haven't heard anything about it. But I'm glad to tell you that despite my nervousness, this turned out to be a rocking book! I've never really thought that deeply about STD's, so this came as a shock! By far, this is one of the best "issue" novels I have ever read. It made me laugh, but it also had a lot of serious moments.

When Lucy first finds out, she immediately starts to withdraw within herself. She drops connections with friends, doesn't really want to do anything, and sulks. A lot. This is an extremely realistic reaction! I'm sure that in her place, I would do the same thing. It's a teenage thing to do! But as a character, Lucy still managed to win a place in my heart.

Lucy just made this book for me. She was realistic-- and I liked how she would explain past moments of her life like plays. It gives us better insight into her character, and it's really fun to read. My only issue with her was that when she withdrew, she didn't tell her parents why. You can tell from the very beginning that they're very open about almost everything, but she shuts them out anyway.

And it was kind of sad to see her do that. Because her parents (Dad and Papa) totally made me crack up, and well....good family relationships just make a book for me, and here she was shutting them out. Also, I have to admit that I don't understand Lisa. She makes no sense to me. She just shows up out of nowhere and expects them to take care of her! Urrggh.

Anywho, we don't need to talk about that. We should talk about Roxie and Evan! They were really good secondary characters. I enjoyed their interactions with Lucy, and I love that she had at least a couple friends that knew to help her out.

All in all, My Life After Now is a startling book with a new message that we haven't really heard before in YA. It rocked, in it's own, melancholy way!
There was nothing more I could do. I only had so much energy left, and I couldn't waste it here.
So I went home, where my measly halflife awaited me. ~ Pg. 178

Jessica Verdi Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. Her favorite pastimes include singing showtunes at the top of her lungs (much to her husband’s chagrin), watching cheesy TV, and scoring awesome non-leather shoes in a size 5. She’s still trying to figure out a way to put her uncanny ability to remember both song lyrics and the intricacies of vampire lore to good use.

1. Recently, I've read several novels where unprotected sex results in pregnancy. You chose a different route – an STD. Can you tell us a little about what influenced you to make that decision?

I wanted to write about HIV specifically because I feel like it’s a very serious issue that doesn’t get enough “press,” so to speak, in the YA lit world. Teenagers are contracting it (and other sexually transmitted infections) every single day, yet we as a society have chosen to pay much more attention to teen pregnancy than the other possible consequences of engaging in unprotected sex. I wanted to do something to help get the HIV/AIDS conversation going again, and thus My Life After Now was born.

2. As a writer, how do you think personal experiences tie into your work?

They always say, “Write what you know,” right? Well, I think that’s true – to a point. You don’t have to have HIV or have been a pregnant teenager or be a time traveler or be turned into a vampire in order to write about these things. J But I think all writers do bring some parts of themselves into their stories, even if they’re writing fantasy. Emotions, the human condition, love, trust, lies, embarrassment, jealousy, compassion… there’s just no way to make that stuff up.

3. What's your most anticipated book release this year? (:

I’m always looking forward to discovering and reading new books, but I think my most anticipated book of 2013 is The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. It’s the third and final book in the Mara Dyer trilogy, and I can’t wait. I seriously adore that series.

4. I know I've already asked you about your inspiration, but how did you research on the subject to make it realistic? Can you point us towards any resources?

I did several different types of research for this book. Lots of reading (both books and online), documentary watching, talking with people who live with HIV, and visiting testing clinics. Surprisingly, there haven’t been very many books (either fiction or non-fiction) written about HIV/AIDS and children/teenagers. I only found one academic book on the subject: Teenagers, HIV, and AIDS: Insights from Youths Living with the Virus, edited by Maureen E. Lyon and Lawrence J. D’Angelo. I renewed that library book about ten times, haha.

5. Do you see bits of yourself in Lucy? If so, how is she like you?

One big way Lucy is like me is her love of theater. I was an actor for ten years before I started writing, and when I was trying to figure out who Lucy was and what her world was like, it just seemed right to set her in a place I was so familiar with. Throughout the story, we see Lucy in her high school drama club, at auditions in New York City, listening to show tunes, and quoting lyrics from musicals. Theater is her life, and it’s her escape when things get bad.

6. Do you have a writing playlist, or a favorite musical that you could recommend to us?

I have so many favorite musicals, I don’t even know where to start! J Lucy’s favorite show is Rent, and that’s definitely a favorite of mine too. I saw it on Broadway close to forty times. I also love Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Ragtime, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Aida, The Wild Party (the off-Broadway one, written by Andrew Lippa), Tick, Tick…Boom!, and A Chorus Line, just to name a few.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Megan!

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