NOT AFTER EVERYTHING
(Dial; on sale June 2, 2015; Ages 12 and up; $17.99) by Michelle Levy is a highly-anticipated YA debut about two teenagers falling in love despite their broken families, social pressures and of course, their own dark demons. This is the next book to read for fans of Eleanor & Park, Willow and Pushing the Limits. Tyler used to have it all: a football scholarship to Stanford, a beautiful girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. But then Tyler’s mom kills herself, and Tyler lets it all go. He keeps to himself, he skirts the ever-increasing wrath of his abusive dad, and by necessity, he gets a job. It’s there that he re-connects with Jordyn—his childhood best friend and the token goth girl at school. They’ve both changed tremendously, but Jordyn brings Tyler a peace that he didn’t think possible. Before long, their feelings extend beyond friendship, but with Tyler’s family in shambles, he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into his life. It takes a violent incident to make Tyler realize how important Jordyn is to him— and it takes Jordyn to make Tyler realize that his future isn’t as hopeless as he once thought. Advance praise for NOT AFTER EVERYTHING: ê “Raw and unforgettable.” – Kirkus, starred review “One of the best young adult novels I’ve ever read.” – Jennifer Echols, awardwinning author of Going Too Far and Such a Rush “A moving story with tons of heart.” – School Library Journal “A hopeful tragedy.” – VOYA -overPerfect for boy and girl readers alike, this gritty and raw contemporary YA debut “isn’t for the faint of heart” but creates a stunning emotionally resonant novel about not letting your past define your future (Kirkus).
Michelle Levy was born and raised in Colorado, but at eighteen moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in casting for film and television. In her many years of casting she has been privileged to work on projects such as Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Bruce Almighty, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, and many more. Follow her on Twitter at @m_levy
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I grew up in Littleton, Colorado. For the greater part of my childhood I was a dancer. Have you ever seen that show Dance Moms? Well, my mom was not one of those crazy ladies, but I did what those kids do. I spent more time at the studio than I did at my house. So much so that I burned out at fifteen. That’s when I switched all my focus to theatre. I got involved in theatre when I reached high school but I got very serious about it my sophomore year. My school was basically like Glee, only it was theatre, choir, and band combined, and there were no slushies. Plus it wasn’t uncool to be involved in the performing arts at my school. While doing theatre I discovered my love for casting and I moved to Los Angeles when I was eighteen to pursue a career in that. I always harbored a secret desire to write but it took me until I was in my thirties to find the courage to go for it.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
Not After Everything is about seventeen-year-old star running back Tyler, who has to navigate his abusive father while grieving his mother’s suicide with the help of an unexpected old friend. NAE was my fifth manuscript. The previous manuscripts were paranormal and urban fantasy. When querying my previous manuscript, an agent I was very much hoping would want to work with me sent me the nicest rejection in the history of rejections. She said that she loved my writing style but couldn’t sell paranormal at the moment and she suggested that I try writing contemporary. So that was in the back of my mind when, one day, I heard my main character talking to me. I was in the shower when this seventeen-year-old boy popped into my head. He had everything going for him but he was very angry and I absolutely had to figure out why.
How do you create your characters?
Like I said, I hear my characters, so I guess they sort of create themselves. I just dig and dig until I figure out what makes them tick and then I create a pretty detailed bio for each one.
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
I’m inspired by great storytelling in any form, but especially great character arcs.
And I guess I finally started actually writing my ideas down when that first character refused to be silent until I started writing her story. It’s a story I might come back to someday.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I mostly write in my office. But there are times when I have to be at a café or a Starbucks in order to write. It just depends on the day. And I make playlists for each of my main characters that I listen to on shuffle while I work on their stories.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
So far they have all come from the characters themselves.
What do you like to read?
I like to read anything with a great character arc and great storytelling no matter the genre.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Read a lot, watch a lot of (good) TV, see a lot of movies. And then write, write, write, write, write. The more you write the easier to find your style and voice. Plus it’s just plain fun!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Don’t ever think that it’s too late to try your hand at something you feel passionately about. It’s never too late.