Kat Rosenfield: Haunted at 17


My new novel, 17 & Gone, comes out tomorrow, March 21, and to mark the release of this story about a 17-year-old girl haunted by the missing, I’ve asked some authors I know to join me in answering this question… What haunted YOU at 17? Here’s Kat Rosenfield revealing what—in this case, who—haunted her when she was 17 years old…

Guest post by Kat Rosenfield

(Kat Rosenfield at 17. She says, "(I love how my little brother is trying to lick my ear while it was taken—obviously some things don't change.")
(Kat Rosenfield at 17. About the photo, she says, “I love how my little brother is trying to lick my ear while it was taken—obviously some things don’t change.”)

I was seventeen when it ended. On the phone, late at night, with me crying hard in spite of my resolve. I didn’t love him anymore—or I did, maybe, but not more than I loved the idea of flying solo, unencumbered, free to be and talk and dress whatever way I wanted, and with no one to tell me that what I wanted was wrong.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ve made up my mind.”
He said, “No.”

The phone rang every night, always at the same time; my answering “Hello?” would be met with the whistling sound of breathing, or sometimes crying. Notes scrawled with angry poetry or small drawings—of wilted flowers, of my own face—would appear in my locker, left by unseen hands. He rarely spoke to me, but he was always nearby, materializing in hallways and classrooms and in the parking lot after school. He was an inescapable shadow. Months after the breakup, in the damp first weeks of spring, my football-player crush kissed me for the first time in what had seemed like a deserted corridor; moments later, we jumped apart when a door down the hall slammed with a sharp, echoing report. He’d been watching. He was angry.

There’s probably another word for what I was, what I felt, something other than “haunted.” “Harassed,” maybe. Or “stalked.” But “haunted” feels right. The fact that my ghost wasn’t really a ghost at all, but a heartbroken and volatile teenage boy, made little difference; he was just as angry, just as empty, just as fixated on getting back what he thought would make him whole. People thought it was romantic, the way he wouldn’t move on. The advice they gave me was the classic sort you get from ghost stories: appease him. Give him closure. Finish the unfinished business that keeps him hanging on.

And if what he wants, what he needs, is you, then aren’t you lucky—to be wanted so much, so desperately? Isn’t it passionate? Isn’t it sweet, being loved like that, until you’re twisted and faded and there’s nothing left of you but the parts that he likes best?

I thought the answer was “yes,” of course, and that was a mistake.
But ghost stories seemed so romantic, and I was seventeen.

ameliaanneKat Rosenfield was born and raised in Coxsackie, New York, and worked as a production assistant, publicist, and copywriter in New York City before finding her niche in writing for teenagers. Her first novel, AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE, was released by Dutton in July 2012. When not writing fiction, she can be found contributing entertainment news and commentary to MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog and lecturing on proper flirting techniques on Barnes & Noble’s SparkLife.

Find her online at katrosenfield.com.

Follow @katrosenfield on Twitter.


Don’t miss the other posts in the series. Throughout the week, more YA authors will reveal what haunted them at 17. Here are the Haunted at 17 posts so far…

Feel inspired and want to share what haunted you at 17? If you write a post on your blog, leave a link or tweet it to me. I’ll send you some 17 & Gone swag if you’d like it, and I’ll be featuring all the posts in a round-up at the end of the week!

You don’t have to be a writer to take part in this. All you have to be is someone who was once 17.


Want to win a signed hardcover of 17 & Gone, some swag, and a signed hardcover of Imaginary Girls to keep it company? Every commenter on this Haunted at 17 post will be entered to win. You can also enter by filling out this entry form.

The giveaway is international. Closes 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 28. Two winners will be chosen.

 17 & GONE NEWS:

  • 17&Gone_thumbIf you’ll be in New York City for the NYC Teen Author Festival, come see me and get a signed copy of the book! Full schedule here—look out for me on Friday, March 22 at the Union Square Barnes & Noble or Saturday, March 23 at McNally Jackson or Sunday, March 24 at Books of Wonder!
  • The 17 & Gone Blog Tour is all about the images that spoke to me—and inspired and illuminated parts of the story—while I was writing the book. I collected them on my Pinterest inspiration board, and each stop on the blog tour reveals one of these images and a passage inspired by it. Here’s an image that made me think of Abby at this stop at Confessions of a Readaholic.
  • Kristina Perez has interviewed me for her Madeleine Project. Come find out my answers to some of the most important questions.
  • If you’ve pre-ordered 17 & Gone or plan to buy it this week (thank you so much for your support! it means the world to me!) and can’t be in New York City to get it signed, I have a way to sign your book from afar. Leave a comment on this photo on my Facebook author page and I may just mail you a signed and personalized bookplate.


What haunted me at 17?


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