Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Debut Author Q&A: BETHANY NEAL

release date: June 10, 2014

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.

JAY ASHER: I’d like to begin our conversation as if we happened to bump into each other on the side of the road. So…

Hey! Watch where you’re… Oh, Bethany. How are you?

BETHANY NEAL: Jay! Great to see ya. Wow, I’m glad I picked today as my one day a week to leave the house!

JAY: Now, we’ve been friends for a while online, but really connected when I changed my profile picture to a Garbage Pail Kid. I think it was Jay Decay. And since you love GPKs, you changed yours to Beth Death. We thought it would be awesome if we started a trend! Unfortunately, no one was cool enough to play along. So if you created a new GPK card for Cassidy, the main character in your book, what would the card say and why does that fit her?

BETHANY: Unabashedly Cassidy. Her picture could have her posing with a mallet, bashing her own head in because she’s so sick of not being able to remember how she died. Brains could be flying everywhere. It would be awesome—I mean, gross. That would not be so super hilarious that I’d stick it on my locker door. 

JAY: I thought it was hilarious, and I’m sure intentional, that you can rearrange the letters in MY LAST KISS to SLIMY TASKS. With my books, the titles always end up different (and better) than what I first came up with. Was this always the title for your book?

BETHANY: Hm, yes, I always intended to title my first book so it was an anagram for SLIMY TASKS. That was very integral to my creative process. I’ve heard stories about authors having to submit long lists of alternate titles to their publishers, but I lucked out and got to keep my original title. My next book is tentatively titled FOLDED SAUCY. Fingers crossed I get to keep that one too!

JAY: If you were to design the perfect donut, what would be on and/or in it? And by the way, this donut magically has not calories. Also, if you’re on any sort of special diet, the effects of whatever you’re avoiding doesn’t happen with this donut.

BETHANY: I’d actually prefer my perfect donut to make me gigantic, dietarily speaking of course. This mythical donut would contain custard (inside) and chocolate frosting with salted caramel-covered blueberries on top. Oh, man, I’m having an intense Homer Simpson moment over this fictional donut. Mmmm, donuts.

JAY: Your initials are B & N, just like Barnes & Noble. Did that have an influence on you getting into writing? Like, if your initials were A & F, would you be designing clothes that were sold in stores that smelled funky?

BETHANY: You know, I never thought about this, but it makes total sense. My alias is Ariel Eugenides, and I used to do a lot of guest spots on that A & E show The Killing. Mostly dead body stand in stuff, but it was a solid gig.

JAY: Did anything surprise you while writing your book? For example, did the tone change, or a character surprise you?

BETHANY: In the first draft I had a different character as the Big Bad, but after going through my standard character development exercises with this person, I ended up liking them so darn much that I had to cut them some slack. Everything in the mystery kind of hinged on this person, so I didn’t expect that to happen. Nor did I appreciate the rewrites, but such is the job. Now they’re only, like, one third bad. The Medium Bad at most.

JAY: Kind of the opposite of the previous question, is there a part of your book that turned out exactly as you hoped it would from the beginning?

BETHANY: I always knew how Cassidy would die. I had a very vivid image in my head from day one what that would look like. I also took a long time perfecting the descriptions of the covered bridge where it happens. I have this desperate hope that one day I’ll be walking in the woods somewhere and happen upon an eerily identical bridge and flip my lid. That is literally a dream of mine. I’m so weird.

JAY: I read a study that said people who flip ahead to the end of the book enjoy the story more. While I could never bring myself to do that, I can also understand it because those people may let themselves enjoy the journey more. So I thought I’d give you an opportunity to spoil the ending of MY LAST KISS (even though books are supposed to be read from beginning to end!!!). If you’d like…

BETHANY: As a joke, one of Cassidy’s friends slipped radioactive protoplasma into her lip gloss the night she supposedly died, but she’s not actually dead…she’s Spider-Man!

JAY: You know what? I’m so glad we bumped into each other. I hope you enjoy your experiences as a published author!

BETHANY: I'm so glad too. It's always nice to see a friend at the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in jolly old England.

by Bethany Neal
is available...

1 comment:

Bethany Neal said...

This crazy Q&A makes me laugh every time I read it, and I wrote half of it...or maybe that's why I find it so funny. Will anybody else find it funny or will it go the way of our infamous GPK fail? *sigh, deep thoughts*
Had so much fun "bumping into you" for this guest post. Thanks Jay!!