Letters to Nowhere
written by Julie Cross
published by Long Walk Press
About the book: From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest Series …
Set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics …
I’ve gotten used to the dead parents face. I’ve gotten used to living with my gymnastics coach. I’ve even adjusted to sharing a bathroom with his way-too-hot son. Dealing with boys is not something that’s made it onto my list of experiences as of yet. But here I am, doing it. And something about Jordan–being around him, talking to him, thinking about him–makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. That’s something I haven’t been able to do lately. He knows what it feels like to be me right now. He knows what it’s like to wonder–what now? I think about it constantly. I need answers. I need to know how to get through this. In the gym, if you’re struggling, you train harder, you do drills and conditioning. How do I work hard at moving on? At being on my own? And what happens if I might be…maybe…probably falling for Jordan? I mean we live together now. That can’t happen, can it? But kissing him…well, let’s just say it’s not an easy activity to forget.
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Julie Cross, author of Letters to Nowhere and the Tempest series, to the blog today. She is touring the blogosphere with Rockstar Book Tours.
I asked Ms. Cross how she switches gears between writing science fiction and YA contemporary. Here is what she had to say:
Switching gears from Sci-Fi to contemporary was actually very easy. I think this has a lot to do with my particular writing style and the fact that my first love—as a reader and writer—has always been contemporary YA and NA. Basically, in every non-contemporary story I write there is also a contemporary story. I realize most supernatural/paranormal/Sci-Fi has elements of character growth and relationship development, but I tend to take this to the extreme and that’s mostly because I develop with characters first and plot second. With contemporary, the character development process almost always steers the plot and leaves little left to do once everyone is fully formed.
Take Tempest for example, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the series, it follows 19 year old Jackson Meyer who’s recently developed the ability to time travel. He witnesses his girlfriend’s murder, jumps back two years in the past, gets stuck there and has to re-meet his girlfriend and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, all while uncovering some intense secrets regarding his own father, the CIA, and his superpower. Now, if I were to strip the story of its non-contemporary elements, here’s what the summary might sound like:
***disclaimer—don’t judge the book on this summary I threw it together for the sake of this blog post. I’ve never actually thought about Tempest without the non-realistic elements until tackling this post, so it’s like a very rough overview.***
TEMPEST (minus the time-travel, CIA, murders, and bad guys showing up at random places)
19 year old Jackson Meyer is finishing up his first year of college. His goals are the same as last summer—work at the Upper East day camp as a volunteer counselor by day and party by night. Whether that means lots of random hook ups or one hot summer fling, Jackson doesn’t really care either way as long as it’s fun, he’s willing to go wherever that leads him. Then he meets Holly Flynn, a new counselor and recent high school graduate. She’s from New Jersey and she’s currently in a long term relationship, a road Jackson himself has never gone down and a road that makes her completely off limits. But when sparks fly between the two of them, Jackson is wondering what it would be like to be with a girl like Holly. She’s beautiful, funny and smart and the more he learns about her, the more he wants to know.
It doesn’t help that he gets along so well with her high school buddy and fellow co-counselor, Adam Silverman because now he’s spending more and more time around Holly, even off the clock. When she breaks things off with her boyfriend of over a year, something that had been in the works for months, expressing the fact that she’s going to shy away from committed safe relationships, Jackson’s sees a hot summer fling in his future because their chemistry is undeniable. But the commitment-phobe in Jackson is very concerned with the fact that being with Holly isn’t the fun and physical experience he’d anticipated. It’s so much more than that. The kind of “more” he never in a million years, imagined wanting.
She sees through him better than he’d like her to and not only is he thinking beyond summer with her, but her relentless ability to get inside his head, causes him to face aspects of his life he doesn’t normally talk about. Things he’d compressed and repressed long ago. Like his twin sister, Courtney who died when they were only fourteen, and the distant relationship he’s had with his father ever since. The guilt of being the one to survive, of not saying goodbye, of getting in so deep with Holly that he might be capable of breaking her heart, is so overwhelming that walking away from a good thing begins to seem like the easiest option, even if he is possibly falling in love for the first time.
So, as you can see, this is already a very complex plot with that coming-of-age element that contemporary YA and NA always seem to carry. Now add in the confusion of suddenly becoming a freak of nature who makes excursions into the past, sets some kind of war in motion, loses the “I might love her” girlfriend, finds her in the past, learns that his dad’s distance may have more to do with his “secret agent” job than resenting Jackson for being the one to survive when Courtney was the better twin. Toss in the aspect of Jackson re-meeting the younger Holly, plus flashing back to his relationship with the older Holly—it’s basically a duel romance.
In the time I create and edit a Tempest series novel, I could probably write 3-4 contemporary stories. With writing Letters to Nowhere, the early development was pretty much the same as the early development with Tempest. I thought about Jackson and what demons he hid from, then I added in Holly and the journey of self-discovery she’s just embarked on. We know that they need to unintentionally fall in love and that Holly is most likely in a place to recognize love much sooner than Jackson does, which creates friction and doubt when he struggles to define them, to say those powerful three words. Then I needed my high concept, my big selling hook. In comes time travel. In comes secret agent dad. Making it a trilogy means caring over the information and storylines from previous books, so with Vortex (Tempest #2) the work doubled, and with Timestorm (Tempest #3) it tripled. Shifting to write Letters to Nowhere following these books, was like pedaling the stationary bike at level 10 and suddenly shifting to level 1: your feet start flying and the pedals are spinning out of control.
This probably explains how I was able to write Letters to Nowhere in 14 days …
Though the Tempest-like stories are more difficult for me to write, the benefit of the way I developed the story is that Tempest has a more mainstream audience. Many readers who don’t normally venture outside of contemporary have enjoyed Tempest because there’s still an entire story outside of the romance. And those who are always seeking a paranormal or Sci-fi story, are usually okay with the added contemporary plot elements.
About the author: Julie Cross is the International Bestselling author of the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, and the final installment, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere (8/13), a mature young adult romance set in the world of elite gymnastics, as well as several forthcoming young adult and new adult novels with publishers like Entangled, Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, and St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books.
Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict. You can find her online via twitter, her personal website, email, facebook, Goodreads, or co-moderating the YAwriters section of reddit.
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