And then in the way of things, she hopped over to Sourcebooks and we became publishing house 'sistas' and the rest is history. I've followed her career and possibly she's followed mine (it's a short line, so she probably had no trouble). Mostly, I've admired and admired and cheered for the amazing contemporary fiction that she has produced. Her first YA with Sourcebooks was I'M NOT HER, about a girl whose more popular sister gets diagnosed with cancer and all that happens after that. She followed it with IF I TELL, about a girl with a secret and a new love for a boy recently out of reform school. And then this year's WHO I KISSED, which I'll talk about in a second.
Janet's writing blows me away-- thoughtful and insightful, with an emotional depth that comes from authentic storytelling. She has been compared to Sarah Dessen and I think the comparison is apt. If you're not reading her yet, you should.
WHO I KISSED is about a girl who makes a terrible mistake and must live with the consequences.
She never thought a kiss could kill...
Samantha didn't mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in...And she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms.
Sam is now the school pariah and a media sensation. Consumed with guilt, she'll have to find strength that goes way deeper than the fastest time in the 200–meter butterfly. Because if she can't figure out how to forgive herself, no one else will either.
And now, here's Janet herself, talking about what she writes and why. And at the end a giveaway, so if you want to WIN AN E-BOOK OF WHO I KISSED, MAKE SURE TO LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!
WHY I WRITE CONTEMPORARY YA
by Janet Gurtler
My son and I were chatting the other day about book ideas. His book ideas, not mine. He’s almost twelve and is a pretty creative kid, though his interest is more in art than writing. Anyhow, he told me this idea he had for a book and it was this hugely clever high concept parallel world idea where dinosaurs were never extinct and evolved into these higher beings. I stared at him and said, wow! I wish I could write stories like that.
A couple of my favorite series are Divergent, Unwind and the older but still brilliant Uglies series. The world building fascinates me and I flipped the pages furiously. And I think, WOW I wish I could write books like that.
But I don’t.
The truth is, I love writing YA contemporary fiction. I love reading contemporary Young Adult fiction. I love books that made me cry and I’m drawn to the inner conflicts in characters. I’m all about opening the curtains on people’s lives and talking about the things people don’t always want to talk about. Not to say you can’t do that in other genres, but what comes most naturally to me is contemporary.
In WHO I KISSED, I wrote about a young girl who accidentally causes the death of a boy by doing something a little irresponsible and completely out of character. But it’s only a kiss. It shouldn’t have gone so wrong or ended up hurting another person so badly. But now Samantha has to deal. She doesn’t want to deal. She thinks she deserves to suffer. She goes out of her way to punish herself, which is something I think many people do when they are feeling guilty. So I wanted to look deeper inside her and show how she is so torn by her natural survival instinct and her burden of sorrow. I wanted to show that how even in spite of herself, there was a will to live.
I am an over thinker by nature. I live inside my head a lot. I love to explore human motivation and the realness of life. I ask too many personal questions. I’d rather talk to people about how they feel about things that are happening in their lives than about the current political situation. I like to know what makes people tick and what makes them feel things.
And I guess that’s why I write the type of books I do.
A small part of me is a little sad that the books I write are not the kind of books my son is drawn to but if I’ve learned one thing in this book business, it’s that book love is very very subjective. There are books that cross over and appeal to the masses of course, but what one person loves in a book, may turn another person off.
I write my books the best I can and try to delve into characters and make people think about how they would react in certain situations. Someday maybe I’ll try out different genres, but for now, serious YA Contemp is where my heart is.
WANT TO WIN AN E-BOOK OF WHO I KISSED?
Say hi to Janet in the comments and let her know that you'd like to win!
Contest is for US, Canada and International, since it's an e-book.
Open until the end of the week, through 10/26.