Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Entangled Teen on July 5th 2016
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people...
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
Sounds so good, right? The cover and title instantly had me wondering just what this story is about! I’m glad Shannon had the time to stop by and tell us a little about herself! Stick around and read the short interview and an excerpt from Life After Juliet.
Hi Shannon! We’re so glad to have you stop by A Leisure Moment. Tell us something about yourself that you haven’t shared with readers before?
Let’s see…I hate playing Monopoly. Won’t do it. Can’t stand it. At least one (if not both) of my kids is guaranteed to cry when we play. And there’s a good chance I’ll end up throwing the tiny wheelbarrow across the room and running away screaming nonsense words. Seriously. That game is evil.
Describe the writing journey that you take when crafting a novel?
Much like Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, writing a novel is a journey full of monsters and mayhem.
Okay, I exaggerate.
Novels begin for me with a character. For LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES, Charlie Hanson showed up one day complaining to me about his new English teacher. For LIFE AFTER JULIET, Becca sat quietly in her room reading and sighing and looking at a picture on her desk and just generally breaking my heart with all her sadness.
I’m not a planner, so I let the characters take the lead and write where they take me. This means my first drafts are often much longer than necessary. Revising novels is where the hard work lies for me. That’s where all the monsters and mayhem are waiting to pull me under.
I have a wonderful writing group that always rescues, pulling me from the depths with swords drawn and barbaric battle cries. They help me see where I’ve taken wrong turns on the journey. They’ll gleefully slash out whole sections of the story if something in there isn’t working. And once they’ve made my story bleed, they’ll sit back with encouraging smiles and watch me stitch it all back together—stronger for the critique.
Since I’m a perfectionist, it’s hard for me to ever feel like something I’m working on is finished. I always feel like I could keep tweaking things. That’s when my agent and editor step in and take things out of my hands for a while. They’ll read and give me notes and keep me on deadlines so I don’t get trapped in a whirlpool of revision, circling down, down, down.
Eventually, the story is declared at an end. I’m always happy when one story is over, but it’s bittersweet. I’ve spent so much time with the characters by then that I hate to have to say goodbye. Thankfully, there’s usually a new character waiting in the wings, ready to tell me his or her story.
Life After Juliet is a companion to Love and Other Unknown Variables, however can they be read as stand alone novels?
Yes, they can be read alone or together. Certainly, the reading experience will be fullest if you read both of them, but we took great care to be sure that LIFE AFTER JULIET could be picked up, read, and resonate with someone who hadn’t read LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES. I was actually given a new editor, someone who hadn’t read LAOUV, to work with so that she could help point out areas where things needed to be made clearer for readers who were starting the story with LAJ.
It’s an interesting title and definitely catches my attention, and I’m sure it will with other readers. Why and how did you come up with the title?
Brainstorming. I had a page of possible titles. And my writing group, especially Mike Mullin (author of the Ashfall series) and Margaret Mullin, helped brainstorm more titles. In the end, I picked LIFE AFTER JULIET because it hinted at the Romeo and Juliet references in the novel and because Becca was learning to live again after a great loss.
Happily-ever-after can have so many different meanings and come in many different forms and fashions. What’s your take on happily-ever-afters?
No one’s guaranteed a happily-ever-anything. I think the best we can do is be hopeful for our futures. That hope will help shade everything—our choices, our perspectives, and our outcomes—in a positive way.
I can’t say for sure what happens to Becca in the years after LIFE AFTER JULIET, but I’m confident that she’ll find a way back to happiness no matter what because she has hope.
Act 3, scene 13
I can’t figure out how to keep going alone, not when every step I take away from Charlotte pulls me right back. Not when what I really want, in the deepest part of my heart, is to never have to walk away from her, to always be walking toward her.
“I can’t lose anyone else.”
Charlie nods. “Yeah, but that’s not how it works, right? People—” He stops short, catching himself.
My fingertips buzz with adrenaline. “They die. They die, Charlie. People die. One day they’re here, and then they’re not. Could be cancer. Could be a careless accident. Could be getting flattened by a truck.” The cake in my stomach is poisoning my insides, making them burn. “We don’t know. All we know is that they die and they leave us and it hurts.”
“Because we loved them.” Charlie catches my eye before continuing. “It hurts because we love the ones we lose, and they love us.”
Advanced Praise for Life After Juliet:
5 stars: “Every word meant something. Every tear they cried was real. Every action, every thought. This book didn’t feel like it was just written for the sake of it, it felt like it was written because the author had to write it. She had to get it out, her words had to be heard.” – Natasha Platt
5 stars: “I hung on every word and I’ll think about it for a long time to come. Becca was brilliant, and I get her. Darby, she was special, Victor was a great crazy friend. Of course Max, there just couldn’t be anyone better suited for her than Max. Listen to me… I’m talking as if they are real! Now that’s the sign of a great book.” – Natasha Platt
5 stars: “Great read for a book lover… Epic love at it’s best!!!” – Socially Awkward Book Nerd
5 stars: “I absolutely loved this… The story, the characters, the message… Just perfection! And I dare anyone reading to try not to fall for Max!!” – Jamie Arkin, Fiction Fare