Today we’re totally psyched to introduce Michele Bacon and her YA Contemporary Life Before which is slated to release June 2016!
- What was your inspiration for Life Before?
It’s based on my greatest childhood fear. For my first YA novel, I wanted something loud and real, and I had to go all the way back to Northeastern Ohio to get it!
- The pacing in thrillers has to be excellent to keep tension high. Tell us a little about your secrets to maintaining tension in Life Before!
Life Before isn’t conceived as a true thriller, though it definitely is intense. Xander is on the run and afraid, but he is never quite sure whether he is being pursued. He purposely cuts himself off from all aspects of his previous life, so he spends the journey desperately trying to find his footing.
- Why did you choose the setting for your book? Did you draw from any real places to create your world?
I did! Xander lives in my childhood house and attends my high school. I often invent whole new places and design perfect houses for my characters—all in the name of procrastination—but for this novel I used places that were real. I was in NE Ohio earlier this month, and a cruise around my high school proved that my adolescent angst is lurking just under the surface of my calm confidence. Putting Xander in my neighborhood really helped me jump into his life, both with his circle of amazing friends and his family’s dynamics.
- Which character in Life Before do you identify with most, and why?
Great question! Xander and I share some aspects of our early childhood, but our similarities end there. His best friend, Jill, is a lot like me. She has a tendency for scheming and is a fiercely loyal friend.
- What was your favorite part about writing Life Before?
For me, writing is like breathing: I have to do it regularly or I start to suffocate. I like the whole process, but my favorite is the draft that comes after my early readers have commented on the manuscript. I wind up with a very long draft, full of notes and questions from my trusted readers (and my own comments, of course.) I love making decisions about what the book will ultimately be. That month or two of revising is the most productive time for every book I write.
- What was the hardest part about writing Life Before?
I had difficulty figuring out what kind of book this should be. It started with a grown female protagonist reliving her past, but that really didn’t resonate with me. I made it a YA book, which made far more sense, but things didn’t really fall into place until I changed it to a male perspective. That whole process of writing and rewriting the guts of the novel was painful. I felt that I had something to say, but just could not say it until I got to Xander and YA.
- What’s one thing you want readers to know about Life Before?
Everyone has secrets, and sometimes acknowledging the most painful and ugliest parts of your life can set you free. As a teen, I thought I was alone. I hid huge aspects of my life for years, which made everything more difficult than it needed to be.
- Describe the type of reader you hope picks up this book when it’s on the shelves.
Anyone who’s hiding a part of their life from the rest of the world. Or, perhaps more importantly, anyone who suspects someone else is hiding something.
- If you could put together a playlist that represented Life Before, what are some of the songs that you would choose?Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing”
M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”
Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine”And blues, lots and lots of blues.
- Who is your favorite rogue character from a book, TV show, or movie?
I have to confess that I am a resolute rule follower. I cringe a little when someone goes rogue…but I do have a soft spot for Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica.
Michele Bacon writes contemporary novels for the Young Adult and Adult markets; she lives in Seattle with her husband and three young children.