Welcome back! It is Monday....so today I am spotlighting a light, fun read that has flawed characters dealing with real issues. And the best part? A sweet romance. From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas is the perfect read for the winter blues. I invited Stacy and Valerie here today to tell you all how two authors come together to write one fantastic book!
Here are their bios:
STACY KRAMER is a New York based writer who writes YA novels, film and television. Her most recent novel, FROM WHAT I REMEMBER, was published by Hyperion in May 2012 in the U.S. The book was just released in the U.K. The film rights to the book were purchased by Paramount Pictures. She is currently writing a movie for Twentieth Century Fox (and has written movies for Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures among others) as well as two new Young Adult novels. Stacy has written movies (LABOR PAINS), television (LIZZIE McGUIRE), magazine articles (ELLE Magazine, The London Sunday Times) and another Young Adult novel, KARMA BITES (Houghton Mifflin, 2010). Previous to her writing career, Stacy worked as a film producer (IGBY GOES DOWN, JAWBREAKER among other credits) and a movie studio executive (at Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox) in Los Angeles.
VALERIE THOMAS is a Young Adult fiction writer who wrote, along with Stacy Kramer, KARMA BITES (Houghton Mifflin 2010), and FROM WHAT I REMEMBER (Disney/Hyperion 2012). In addition, Valerie has written a screenplay for TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX. Before turning to writing, Valerie worked for Jonathon Demme for eleven years, as Director of Development, then Vice President, where she oversaw dozens of movies, including PHILADELPHIA, DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, ADAPTATION and BELOVED. She went on to become a producer with Jonathan Demme, producing ULEE’S GOLD and SUBWAY STORIES. Valerie is currently working on two new YA novels and co-producing the documentary MORGENTHAU, about three generations of the Morgenthau family whose careers in public service have brought them to the forefront of some of the most dramatic events of the past hundred years.
Here are Stacy and Valerie on collaboration:
People always ask us, how do you write a novel with someone else? Isn’t it hard? Don’t you fight over things? And frankly, the answer for both of us is how could we not write with someone else? We can’t imagine doing it any other way. We both started out as film producers, which is a collaborative job in a collaborative medium. There’s no going off to your little cave and working alone. It’s all about toiling away with a group of very creative people (hopefully with similar visions) to come up with something brilliant (or at least watchable). Having grown up in that work environment, it was natural for us to take on a partner when we first started writing.
Initially, we wrote screenplays together (our last one was for Twentieth Century Fox) before branching out into YA novels. At the time we wrote our first movie, I (Stacy) was finishing up the last movie I would ever produce (IGBY GOES DOWN) when we began the arduous process of starting to write. We worked very closely together, actually in the same room, working off the same screen. It turned out to be great fun. Although we did have to learn how to kill our babies (as Tennessee Williams once said) for the greater good, which made for some knock down drag out fights along the way (all verbal sparring, no bones were broken).
After writing a number of screenplays, we decided to try our hand at YA novels since many of the movies we loved (romantic comedies and John Hughes type movies) were no longer getting made, replaced instead by more and more action and genre films. Our first book, KARMA BITES (Houghton Mifflin 2010), was originally an idea we had developed as a Disney movie. We were easily able to transfer our movie writing process to novel writing, although spending all day in a room together, sharing a screen was no longer viable. With novel writing, it became clear that we both needed our privacy and our own screens (which, in many ways, helped us both grow as writers – though the separation was hard at first we’ve both come to love our little writers caves).
We apply many of the same principles that worked for us in screenwriting to our novel writing. Namely, we work out the entire story together, either in the same room or on the phone, or through iChat. And then one of us takes the first chapter and begins to write while the other of us will follow behind, rewriting everything. Once we’re done with a first draft, we rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rewriting each other endlessly until the voices (hopefully) feel seamless. We have been close friends for years, have very similar taste in music, reading, pov’s on life, etc. so our voice tends to feel like one, rather than two. It’s a wonderful and rare gift to have found a partner, with whom we’re so in sync. We feel extremely lucky. We’re like two heads on the same body (well, sort of, we actually have separate bodies).
And YA writing couldn’t be more fun. While we still write movies and television, the YA novels are where our hearts lie. Screenwriting and TV writing, more than books, follows a very circumscribed structure. It’s extremely specific, things must happen at certain times in the story and the action and plot must be constantly moving forward. Studio movies (as in movies that are made by companies like Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, etc.) have a seven act construction where every fifteen pages, the story must turn. As a result of that training, we like to plot out our books in a similar way so that we’re constantly turning the story in different directions, hopefully, surprising people as the plot twists and turns unexpectedly. Sometimes, we can get a bit too immersed in plot and we need to step back and allow our characters and story to breathe a bit. But, for the most part, we think both our film background and our collaboration has allowed us to tell fast-paced, action packed stories that feel like the best movie you’ve ever read. We hope you feel the same!
I couldn't agree more! The two working together churned out a brilliantly fun and realistic contemporary YA novel. I hope you will check it out! Thank you so much to Stacy and Valerie for taking the time to be here today. They come bearing gifts for you all. They are offering up two signed copies of From What I Remember and the best part?! It is open Internationally! Thank you so much for your generosity, ladies! Please support these fine ladies and enter their giveaway and follow them on Twitter and Facebook! Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. See Contest Policies for all details.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
KYLIE: Mexico? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger
MAX: It started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.
WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border - but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.
LILY: This cannot be happening. It's like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes and when I reopen them, they're still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I'm giving him up without a fight, she's dead wrong.
Hardcover, 462 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Hyperion
Four Stars: A fun contemporary with real and flawed characters.
For four seniors the upcoming graduation means something very different for each of them. Kylie is anxious to give her valedictorian speech and finally be free of the snobby private school where she has been a social outcast for the last four years. Max is just looking forward to the parties and all the mayhem. Will is gay and tired of being rejected. He longs for freedom and perhaps a reprieve from his ridiculous flashy wardrobe. Lily is desperately trying to hide a family secret that will ultimately ruin her popular girl reputation. What none of them plan on is an unexpected detour to Mexico that results in a night of magic and reckless abandon for Max, Kylie and Will. A night that changes everything and allows them to explore and learn more about themselves than they ever thought possible. The problem is that things are now complicated and the morning after brings a steep price. The clock is ticking and the gang only has a few hours to make it back over the border in time for graduation. Can they make graduation?
What I Liked:
- I loved that this book was at times light and funny, while at other times it dealt with real and difficult issues such as: cancer, autism, bankruptcy, societal and peer pressure and being gay. The book seamlessly blends the fun with the serious and in the end you get a book with hilarious situations, flawed characters and new beginnings. It isn't always easy to step out of your comfort zone and dare to explore and try new things. Our four main characters are at the major crossroad in their lives where high school will soon be the past and ahead is a future filled with big changes. Do they have the courage to dream of something new?
- I am a big fan of books with multiple view points especially when it is done right. This book utilizes five different voices: Kylie, Max, Will, Lily and Jake. I thought the integration of the POVs was well done and it added so much depth to the story to get inside each of the character's heads. I always enjoy seeing scenes from two different view points, especially when it comes to the romance. I really liked that each of the characters was unique. You have the uptight, driven, smart Kylie, Max the handsome jock, who hides his intelligent side, Lily the spoiled rich mean girl who will stop at nothing to get her way, Will the flamboyant gay boy who isn't afraid to be himself, and finally Jake, Kylie's younger brother who has Aspergers. I was interested in each of the characters and liked that this book incorporated a gay teen and a young boy with a form of autism. If you enjoy boys with alternating view points you should check this one out.
- This book goes on a wild adventure as Kylie and Max are thrown together for a last minute school assignment, and then everything turns chaotic when Kylie's computer is stolen and she is hell bent on getting it back, even if that means chasing the thieves and ending up in Mexico. What ensues is a day filled with revelations, changing perspectives, and ultimately romantic sparks. The romance that ensues is sweet and amazing as two people who thought they were complete opposites learn that they have some common ground. This is one of those romances that starts out as antagonistic acquaintances and moves into something more. I am always a big fan of these types of romances and this one certainly was fun!
- I loved how each of the character was flawed, it made them all human and relatable. Max especially had moments where I was shocked that he didn't step up and be the hero, and at first I was disappointed, but then I realized that it just made him more vulnerable and realistic and in the end I loved him even more because he does have flaws and he makes some big mistakes.
- I liked that a good portion of the book takes place in Mexico. When Kylie and Max first venture over the border, they are a bit put off by their surroundings, but once they get to Ensenada, they begin to see things with new eyes. Mexico ends up showing them some wonderful things, and they meet some fantastic people. I loved seeing how they changed their mind about Mexico and how they fell in love with the people and the town.
- This book was a fun, fast read with lots of drama and a surprising romance, and the best part was that it all concludes neatly at the end. No cliffhanger! I love books that keep me entertained throughout and then come to a satisfactory conclusion!
And The Not So Much:
- This book is full of adventure, and at times some of the events felt a bit far fetched and contrived. This is not a big issue, just roll with it and have fun.
- At the end of the book there was an epilogue and it showed how the characters were faring six months down the road. I loved knowing what happened to them, but I was a bit perplexed to not gain any insight into Lily's fate. Granted, she wasn't my favorite character, but I would still like to see how she fared.
- I liked the story line concerning Kylie's father, and I was a bit disappointed that there just wan't a touch more resolution on that angle. Did he return to Mexico to visit his old friends? Was he happier?
- Charley was another character that didn't have a big role, but at the end he has his own big revelation, and I would love to know how things worked out for him, and if he found his path.
- This book does have quite a bit of drinking. I realize this is the way things are when it comes to teenagers, but if you prefer to keep this type of material away from your younger reader, this book is probably best suited for readers sixteen and up.
From What I Remember is a great, pick me up read. It is filled with all the things you love in a good contemporary: real issues, drama, romance and more. I loved that this book presents varying view points and that we meet some flawed and realistic characters. This is a book about change, new beginnings and opening your eyes and daring to see things in a new light. I had a great time with this one, and if you are looking for a book to perk you up in the winter months, grab this one. It is also a perfect summer read!
"Popular people are from Mars. The rest of us are from a distant galaxy that no one has ever heard of."
"I know it is cliche' to hate Starbucks and while I try not to be a cliche', I can't help it. Starbucks is ruining what used to be great about the city. They're taking the cool, old buildings down and replacing them with big, brown boxes."
"I guess just that there's dignity in death. That if you live your life right, maybe it makes the dying part not so bad."
"He is so white, they've named a shade of Benjamin Moore paint after him (Bright, Uptight White #7)."
"The best preparation for the rest of your life is, maybe no preparation at all. Dive right in. Make mistakes. Break a few rules. Wing it."
"Figuring out what you want comes from failing and then trying again. It comes from questioning everything, falling love, fighting the power, living without limits. It doesn't come from getting straight A's, playing by the rules, and listening obediently."
"It's all so cliche'-ridden it's embarrassing. I wish our story could have some more original twists and turns. Maybe one of us will turn into a vampire or something."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.