Hi, Kristen! Tell us a little bit about your book, Life Interrupted.
Life Interrupted is a Mature YA novel, set in Corvallis, Oregon, a small college town in western Oregon. It follows the senior year of Rachel “Flow” Reynolds, who is not a typical teen for multiple reasons, the largest being that she has a one and a half year old. At sixteen, Rachel spent one perfect night with her best friend, Tripp, a night that filled her heart with everything she’s ever wanted…until she woke up and found him gone without a word the next morning. After that Rachel felt reckless, and in her recklessness and her absolute conviction to get over Tripp, she slept with someone else, someone she didn’t love, and got pregnant.
Although her backstory is not a happy one, the story itself has comedic moments as Rachel is a character who isn’t afraid to drop an f-bomb or say what she feels. She’s strong—this is my favorite quality about her. Despite a hard life with some hard lessons, she’s surviving, and really, working on thriving. Tripp and Rachel’s story didn’t end after their one night, no matter that both of them tried to ignore it, each for reasons of their own. Now, with six months left in their high school careers, Tripp finally makes the move to show Rachel how he’s always felt. He’s determined to make her his, but Rachel is more cautious now than before, not just for her own heart, but for that of her daughter.
The story has a Happy Ever After, because I’m not an author who’s learned to write the sequel just yet, and as a reader, I hate a cliffhanger. Even if I’m going to see the characters again, I need this story to end with a possibility of happiness. It’s why I love romantic fiction.
What inspired you to write the story? Did you relate to any of your characters at all whilst writing the novel?
I was inspired to start Life Interrupted by a few of my students and a very dear friend who had a baby at sixteen. While her story is not a direct parallel to Rachel’s, many of the emotions and difficulties are ones she showed me through her own time as a struggling teen mother. As a new mother myself, and a mentor to some girls who have worked through high school to support themselves and their babies, I understand the absolute love and fear a child instills within you. When Rachel flashes back to her own pregnancy in the story, I was writing these scenes while coming out of my horrific delivery and c-section, so many of the things she endures were consequences of my own pregnancy. I think she may be stronger than me, though. She’s a character I wish I could be in so many ways.
Why did you decided to write Young Adult novels?
Originally, I wanted to be a romance writer. I grew up on an overwhelming diet of Nora Roberts. She was all I would read from the age of twelve on, because every time I dove into one her novels, I felt what the characters felt—and her heroine always learned to fight. Too often I’ve felt that I wasn’t a fighter, that I’m the character who stands to the side, so being able to live through a person who learns to fight, or who was born fighting for what they want, was inspiring. When I first tried to write a romance, it was difficult to find the words and the experiences that I didn’t really understand yet. I started seriously writing at nineteen, and it took me until twenty-one to realize my life experience as an “adult” wasn’t enough to understand where my characters should be or go. At twenty-two, I became a high school teacher, and a month in I understood that contemporary young adult was a genre I understood. Not every person has a story that’s horrific or amazing, but every life is unique, if only because of the emotions we feel. After one year as a teacher and a little motivation from a friend whose never learned to back off (said with a smile), I penned FINDING YOU. Even in its darkness there is some innocence, and an overwhelming desire to see the light, and that’s how I view high school. The need to see the beauty and amazing-ness in the world, even when each person may choose a piece of the darkness, too.
What were some of your favourite stories to read as a teenager?
As I’ve said, Nora Roberts inspired me. Honest Illusions and Hidden Riches were the two stories that I went back to time and again. Quirky, strong, fun characters with demanding men who were made a tad softer by love. I discovered Sarah Dessen in my twenties and have never been so moved as I was by Dreamland. My husband forced me to finish it so I would stop being so sad. Recently, Tammara Webber’s Between the Lines series is one of my favorites. Reid is the badboy we love because he’s innately good, and absolutely aware of his ability to be a dick. He doesn’t change for everyone, but he’s not a liar or absusive. He’s honest.
Do you have any advice for other inspiring writers out there?
Advice for writers…don’t quit. I know, a horrible thing to say when sometimes all we want is to quit, but as a relative nobody in the YA writing world, I can assure you there are going to be more bad days than good—days when it appears everyone you read is being read by others, and that they are beloved while you’re still unknown. A true writer has to write, no matter who reads their work, so write what you know, what’s true to you, and understand that your stories mean something simply because they are yours. I’m learning to ignore bad reviews, especially the ones that attack you as a writer as well as your writing. Amanda Hocking gave the best advice years ago when she said ignore them, they are allowed to say what they want because they’ve bought your book. It’s true. You can’t please everyone, so please yourself.
Finally, are you working on any other novels at the moment?
I AM working on another novel. It’s what one would term New Adult as the charactes are in college getting ready to graduate. It’s an addition to my novel Beyond the Horizon, though it can be read as a stand alone. The Light of Day follows Cora, the main character’s cousin from BTH, and her journey as she discovers how to live up to her own expectations rather than those of the people around her. It’s a little edgier, as Cora has made some bad decisions to get where she is today, and unlike Life Interrupted, it’s alternating POV from Cora to Jake, her love interest. The first two chapters can be found at the back of Life Interrupted and on my website, kristenkehoe.wix.com/Kristen-kehoe.
Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you for having me! Happy reading, and studying. :)
Kristen's new novel, Life Interrupted, is free on Amazon until midnight tonight. Be sure to download your copy! http://www.amazon.com/Life-Interrupted-Kristen-Kehoe-ebook/dp/B00I5VOLLA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392490747&sr=8-1&keywords=Kristen+Kehoe
About KristenI am a writer of YA/NA contemporary novels. I write about those crazy ages of 18-23 because there is nothing scarier than being told to grow up and decide what to do with your life and who to be so suddenly. I write about love because it's my belief that love, in one form or another, saves us all at some point in our lives. I am married to a man who understands and believes in me, and mother to a beautiful baby girl and a neurotic Great Dane Puppy.