It started last year. A dream about a story where one guy had been lusting over another all throughout high school. I woke up in the middle of the night (as I am often wont to do) and wrote it down. I thought that was the end of it. But no. The boys had other ideas, though. I shared the story with a friend. She said it would make a good full length story and that I had a ‘young adult’ voice. That got me thinking about doing more with the story. Taylor and Jackson were definitely on board with that.
So I sat down. They were no longer going to be in college, they were going to be in high school. Their circle of friends expanded, and their lives took on a life of its own. In the original there was no Becca. There was no Kevin. Yet they came to play, too.
Pitch was my first story that I even considered sharing with the world. I had some help from an amazing person who helped me to show and not tell, who encouraged the story along. Who told me it didn’t suck. I look at it now and think, “oh geez, I could have done this differently”, but I’m still happy with what I wrote. Mostly. (The urge to tweak is still there.)
The one thing that most people had in common was a love for one particular character. He was supposed to be a background person, someone who was there to provide moral direction. Instead he became the ‘oh damn, I wish I had a friend like him’. The end of Pitch was supposed to be that. The end. But a few friends who were reading it wanted more. They wanted me to tell a story for Benny. And it seemed impossible, until the end of the book when everything came together and suddenly the story for Benny made sense. So I went back and jiggered a few bits, making it seem like Benny had something to say. Now he does.
Harmony Ink, the young adult division of Dreamspinner Press, has agreed to publish Wet Paint, Benny and Addy’s story (I’m sorry, Benny did NOT end up with Taylor, that was never even a thought in my head).
Now I’m going to admit something to you. Some people had a hard time with Pitch because of some issues of stupidity on the part of the main character. Taylor is sixteen in the story, almost seventeen. He made some choices that were not too bright, but, according to my friends who work with young adults, they were perfectly consistent with reality. We all have secrets, and Taylor’s almost cost him everything.
Another thing that some found off-putting was something Jackson does. Again, he’s sixteen going on seventeen. I’m sorry. Kids make spur of the moment choices that they later regret.
And, finally, there is the subject of abuse. It plays a small role in Pitch when Taylor and Benny meet Addy. It’s not in-depth discussion, but it’s there.
Why am I telling you this? Because in Wet Paint some of these issues are revisited. The big one being the abuse. If it’s a red-flag issue for you, then you probably will not want to read Wet Paint. Addy’s story cannot be told without it, and I can’t sugarcoat what happened to him and how it affects him to this day, and may for the rest of his life. I can’t shy away from it in his story. I’m certainly not going into graphic detail, but the imagery is there.
I disagree with one reviewer who said this was too adult for a YA novel. I think kids need to know these things. Unless you’re hiding them away in their rooms, there is no way they won’t already hear it or, in some cases, even have to deal with it. In the end, Taylor realizes what he did was wrong, and he paid a price for it. Like real life.
So, for those who enjoyed Pitch, I sure hope you’ll like Wet Paint. It was tough to write, but I’m very happy with the outcome.
Now, instead of ending on a heavy note, I want to introduce you to my inspirations for the characters.
Benny is my ideal. He’s smart (wickedly so), he’s built (but not hardbodied), and he’s sweet (like candy, baby)
If there were ever perfect book boyfriend, Benny would be mine. He says the things that shows he wants to protect you, to keep you safe. He’s possessive and, maaaaybe a tad domineering, but if you’re important to him, he refuses to let you go.
Addy has not had the best life. He was abused by his biological father, physically and sexually. He was angry and hurt. He never let anyone inside of his shell. Yet Benny found a way in, and Addy didn’t want to let that slip away.
Adopted by the Dean family when he was a child, Addy is finally coming to grips with what happened. He’s opening up to his family, much to their relief.
Liam Hartwell. This year he’s going to cause problems between Benny and Addy, but not everything is as it seems when this young man is involved.