The Wonderful Jessica Park has written some Awesome Novels. Like roaring your head off, falling in love, shock factor novels.
So I bit the bullet, contacted her, and asked her some questions about Flat Out Love & Flat Out Matt. She is just as funny in email as she is in her books. AND...Get this...She agreed to do an author interview and excerpt of her latest Novel, Left Drowing for me!!
Firstly, my reviews for Flat Out Love and Flat Out Matt can be found by clicking below...
Flat Out Love / Flat Out Matt
So here we are New Adult Lovers...read on and fall Flat Out in Love with Jess!
About the Author
Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novel RELATIVELY FAMOUS and FLAT-OUT LOVE, and the FOL companion novella, FLAT-OUT MATT.
Jessica grew up in the Boston area and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After spending four years in the frigid north, including suffering through one memorable Halloween blizzard, Jessica hightailed it back to the east coast. She now lives in (relatively balmy) New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dogs named Fritzy and Finn, and a selfish cat. When not writing, Jessica indulges her healthy obsessions with Facebook and complicated coffee beverages.
Flat Out Love
It’s not what you know–or when you see–that matters. It’s about a journey.
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.
And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.
To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.
Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.
Flat Out Matt
Matt is a junior at MIT. He’s geeky, he’s witty, he’s brilliant.
And he’s also very, very stupid.
When beautiful, cool, insightful Julie moves in with Matt’s family, why (oh why!) does he pretend to be his absent brother Finn for her alleged benefit?
It seems harmless enough until her short-term stay becomes permanent. And until it snowballs into heart-squeezing insanity. And until he falls in love with Julie, and Julie falls in love with Finn.
But … Matt is the right one for her. If only he can make Julie see it. Without telling her the truth, without shattering them all. Particularly his fragile sister Celeste, who may need Julie the most.
You saw Matt through Julie’s eyes in FLAT-OUT LOVE. Now go deeper into Matt’s world in this FLAT-OUT MATT novella. Live his side of the story, break when his heart breaks, and fall for the unlikely hero all over again.
Take an emotional skydive for two prequel chapters and seven FLAT-OUT LOVE chapters retold from his perspective, and then land with a brand-new steamy finale chapter from Julie.
Author’s Note: Two chapters, The Sleepover and Keep Going, contain more mature content than Flat-Out Love (Keep Going, in particular), and were written based on reader demand. They wouldn’t have fit in well with the original Flat-Out Love, but given that this is a fan-driven companion piece, I think they work. While the content here is upped at bit, the scenes are tastefully done. (So, you know sorry to those who wanted lewd and graphic.)
What inspired you to start writing?
I was overwhelmed with painful exhaustion after my son was born, and my author mother took advantage of my vulnerability and roped me into writing.
What is your writing ritual (if you have one)?
I procrastinate and swear a lot. Sometimes for weeks on end. Then eventually I have a giant meltdown, drink a lot of coffee, and get into bed with my laptop and write. I’m quite glamorous.
Who is your favourite author & what are your favourite books?
Oh, gosh, this is a tough question. I don’t really have one favorite author, but I love Pat Conroy. His books stand the test of time, and I love that.
What writing support network do you have?
I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with so many authors, and being able to lean on people who also in this business means the world. Other than that, I don’t do critique groups or anything along those lines.
What are your most loved and most loathed moments of writing/publishing?
I believe it was Dorothy Parker who said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” That’s about right. I mean, there are days when I’m really writing hard core that I just love it, when the words can’t come fast enough, and I’m really on a high. But it’s hard work, it’s stressful, it’s isolating, and it can be painful. The good days are pretty damn good, though. The most rewarding part of writing really comes from hearing from readers who’ve been moved in some way by a story that I’ve told.
Flat Out Love/Flat Out Matt Questions
Where did the idea for Julie's story come from?
The original outline for Flat-Out Love was actually a spin off of Snow White. I loved the idea of someone (Julie) coming to live in a house of strangers. We get to watch as she meets them and develops relationships, and their story is reflected to us through Julie’s eyes. Leaving home for the first time to go to college is such a pivotal time in life, so I was itching to write about that confusing state of striving and loving independence and also still being a kid in some ways.
How did you pick the names of your characters?
I use a baby name book when searching for characters. It sounds ridiculous, but even coming up with “Matt” took time. A name has to feel just right for that character, and I can’t even start writing a book until all the names are in place.
Why did you choose Boston?
I grew up there and still live only an hour away. It’s my turf, and it’s just so ripe for novel material.
Who is your favourite character? (Sorry - I had to ask!)
LOL. If forced to choose, I’ll go with Celeste. Not only do I simply love her, but I’m attached to how she came to be. I had a rough idea of who she was before I started writing Flat-Out Love, but it wasn’t until she opened her mouth at the dinner table that I developed her language and social style. In those first moments of writing her, I understood her more completely than any character I had written before. I knew exactly what she would say and do in any given situation.
Do you ever see Celeste having a story to tell when she is older?
I have some ideas that I’ve toyed around with and that I may write about one day... So I can’t share them here. No promises, but I would love to write about her as an older teenager or young woman in her early 20s.
What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?
I sit and wiggle my butt into the sandy ground until I have carved out a comfortable sitting spot. The air is fresh and reviving. I can breathe. Why have I never come here before?
Well, I know why.
The love/hate relationship that I have with water. Well, mostly I love it. Yet it’s also a reminder of a past that I’m both clinging to and struggling to outrun. I may not have come to this shoreline yet in my years at Matthews; but I knew it was here, and that mattered. I wanted to be able to come here when I felt ready. Apparently I am ready today, because it feels glorious to be here. The light is extraordinary. Photographs and paintings invariably cheapen morning light, but the real-life version can be stupendous. Like it is right now.
Reality is not necessarily my friend—then again, neither are dreams—but this moment, this reality, is beautiful. I am alone without being lonely, for once, staring across the water and watching the sun begin its climb into the clear blue sky.
When I scan the shoreline, though, I see that I am not alone. There is one person.
He stands about twenty yards from me, just at the edge of the water, wearing only worn jeans and blue sneakers, no shirt. His profile is silhouetted against the growing light, and I watch him as he stares across the lake. His black hair falls nearly to his shoulders in soft waves. He has to be at least six feet tall, beautifully long and lean. He isn’t bulky like a weight lifter, but he looks incredibly strong.
I’m watching him so intensely that I realize I’m holding my breath. I force myself to inhale and exhale deeply.
Crystal clear thoughts hit me. He is confident, he is assured, and he is centered.
I can’t look away.
He looks down and kicks at the ground a few times before bending down and picking up something. Weirdly, I guess what he is going to do before he does it, and I catch myself smiling slightly as he reaches back his arm and skips a rock into the water. I try to count the skips. One, two, three, four, five…. It’s hard to see from where I am. He takes a few steps from where he is and then roots in the ground for more rocks. I watch as he skips another. Then another.
He moves smoothly, seamlessly. He’s done this before; I can tell by his clean, competent movements and rhythm. He strikes me as free, freer than I am or could be. Again, I catch myself holding my breath as I watch him. I have no idea why I feel so drawn to this stranger. But the feeling is undeniable.
The stone skipper searches the ground again and then reaches into the front pocket of his jeans before sending a stone bouncing across the water. Smart boy. He brought his own stash. I know the sort of perfect stone one needs to get the dance of rings to appear on the water’s surface. I searched for those same kinds of stones as a kid, although despite my repeated efforts to learn, I never got very good at skipping. This boy, on the other hand, is a master.
I inhale and exhale again, wondering why I feel overwhelmed just by watching him. A thought I don’t understand flashes into my consciousness. He is the past, and the present, and the future. I shake my head hard. What in the hell is wrong with me? Is this because I didn’t drink last night? Maybe I’m going into some kind of bizarre booze withdrawal. I should probably go back to the dorm and crawl into bed. But the lure of watching the stone skipper is too much, and I cannot get myself to leave. I stop fighting my impulse to run and lean back on my elbows for the show.
Twenty minutes later, and he is still at it. I like how he takes his time before throwing, the way he assesses the water and rubs each stone in his hand for a few minutes to feel its shape and the texture, weighing it in his palm. He pauses after each throw, letting the ripples from each stone fade, allowing the process to have its full beginning, middle, and end.
Without full awareness of what I’m doing, I stand up and walk toward him. He must catch sight of me from the corner of his eye, because he turns slightly my way and smiles. From my place in the sand, I’d noticed that his muscular body was hard to ignore, but I hadn’t expected his face to be so gorgeous. As I get closer to him, I begin to wish I had stayed away. I want to grimace as I take in the perfect angular lines of his jaw—attractiveness on this level is a bad sign. Anyone this hot is usually a complete creep. I barely care about my own body, and rarely notice someone else’s, but a flat stomach and abs like his are undeniable.
“Hi,” he prompts me.
Oh. I am staring. And not into his eyes. His arms have the most beautiful definition that I’ve ever seen.
“Sorry. Um . . . Hi.” I am fumbling for words, pathetically so, and it only gets worse when I look up. He pushes his hair from his face. His green eyes, framed by strong dark eyebrows, nearly cause my knees to buckle. This is ridiculous. He is just another human being. I take a deep breath and try to look at him critically. After another minute of staring at him, I’m relieved to see that he probably isn’t every girl’s idea of perfection. He’s a little too skinny, maybe, and his nose is slightly crooked. Of course, I actually like that. I see perfection in things that are likely considered imperfections by others.
“Hi,” he says again, looking slightly amused.
“I saw you skipping stones,” I blurt out. “You’re really good.”
“Years of practice.”
I squirm, curling my toes in my sneakers, wishing yet again that I had just kept my distance. I don’t know what I’m doing. “I’ve . . . I’ve never been good at that. I used to try as a kid, but my stones always just cannonballed in.”
“I’ve done that plenty of times. You’ve got to send it off with enough force. But also enough care.”
I nod. “Well, sorry to bother you. Just wanted to tell you it was nice to watch.” I pause and brazenly reword what I have said. “You, I mean. You were nice to watch.” I turn to leave, appalled at what I have put out there.
“Hey,” he says stopping me. “Do you want me to help you? I could give you a few tips if you like.”
I spin around, aware that trying to resist would be really fucking futile.
“If you don’t mind, that would be . . . cool.” I cannot think of a better word than cool right now because he has rendered me closer to insane than I usually am, and I have no idea why.
“I’m Christopher Shepherd, by the way. Chris. Whatever you like.”
“What do you like?”
“Whatever you like.” He smiles. “And you are….?”
“I’m Blythe McGuire.”
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