Kat Rosenfield: Haunted at 17

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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.


MORE HAUNTINGS

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.


GIVEAWAY! 

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.

NEXT UP…

What haunted me at 17?

2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield

Hello and welcome to my Summer 2012 YA Debut Interview Series, featuring fun Q&As with debut YA authors who’ve written books I am absolutely dying to read! I’ve chosen eleven (yes, 11 this time!) Summer 2012 YA debut novels to feature, and I hope by the end of this series you’ll be as excited about these debuts as I am.

If you’re here for some giveaways, why, you’re in luck! Each debut interview will feature a giveaway that you can enter by commenting or filling out an accompanying entry form… And at the end of the interview series, I will give away a pre-order of the winner’s choice, open internationally!

Today is the very first Summer 2012 YA Debut I’m thrilled to feature: Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat RosenfieldRead on to see how this debut author answered my interview questions… And be sure to enter to win a signed finished copy of the book!


Nova Ren Suma: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Kat Rosenfield: On a hot summer night in a small town called Bridgeton, a girl named Becca experiences a brutal betrayal at the hands of a boy she thought she could trust. The next morning, the body of a girl nobody knows is discovered on a patch of desolate country road just outside the town line. Paralyzed by fear and indecision in the aftermath, Becca retreats inward as the life she carefully planned begins to fall apart around her.

Short chapters detailing the dead girl’s final hours are intercut with Becca’s first-person narrative, as old grudges and terrible secrets bring her—and the reader—ever closer the horrifying, hidden truth about Amelia Anne Richardson’s death.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave?

My novel wanted to be written, and it wasn’t afraid to take drastic measures to make it happen. For a long time, it wasn’t a novel at all; it was just a few thousand words that I’d written as an exercise (in what, I no longer remember) and then left sitting on my computer for two years. But then, in 2008, I lost my job. And in the two months I was unemployed, I decided to finish my first draft.

At which point I very foolishly went back to ignoring the book. And exactly a year later, I lost my job again—and this time, I used the ensuing months of unemployment to finish the revision that ended up being bought by Dutton. And by then, the story had been pent up inside of me for so long that it came flying out, head to tail, at a hundred miles per hour.

So basically, I firmly believe that my book secretly sabotaged my career—twice!—in order to get my attention. Which, on the spectrum of bad behavior, probably puts it somewhere between “grocery-cart toddler having a tantrum in the candy aisle” and “Real Housewife of New Jersey.”

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it. 

I was living in a long, dark, railroad apartment in Brooklyn at the time that I was writing Amelia, and I did pretty much all my work on the bed—there was nowhere else to sit. As a result, substantial portions of this book were written with my cat sitting on my hands and my dog trying to sit on my lap. Which was a problem, since he weighs as much as I do.

As for my fantasy writing spot, I’d like it to be in a turret. That’s all. I don’t really care where the turret is, or to what structure the turret is attached; any turret will do. If you have one available, I will take it.

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could picture devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

I would be beside myself if I ever came across anyone reading my book in the wild, really. But here’s my dream scenario: I would be flipping through some haute publication that covers the lifestyles of the rich and famous—like the NYT Style section, or Vanity Fair—and I’d come across a photo from a big-deal, black-tie party. Everyone in tuxes and evening gowns, celebrities everywhere, and the main subject of the photo would be a group shot of, say, Julia Roberts hanging out with George Clooney and Heidi Klum. But in the background, at a table, there’s person—sitting all alone, head down, completely uninterested in the party going on around him.

And it’s Christopher Walken.

And he’s reading my book.

And then a unicorn walks across my lawn.

 

Publishing a novel is full of high points, low points, absolutely surreal points, and shocking points you never thought you’d see in your lifetime. Tell us a high point, a low point, a surreal point, and something shocking or at least somewhat surprising about your experience so far.

The high point was definitely calling my mother on the night that I found out I was being published and shrieking, “MOOOOOOOM! IT’S HAAAAAPPENIIIIIIIING!” It was a moment I’d dreamed about—for me, the best part of good news is being able to share it—and she went “EEEEEEEE!” and I went “AHHHHHH!” and it was just perfect.

On the downside, there have been a series of these terrible moments—from getting my first editorial letter to re-reading my ARC and thinking, “Oh, God, why did I choose that word!”—when I’ve felt daunted and terrified and in over my head, and generally convinced that I’m not cut out to do what I’m doing.

And at this point, I think the most surreal and most surprising thing are one and the same, which is seeing the book being talked about by other people. I still think of my novel as this silly, self-indulgent thing I made in my apartment, and it’s mind-blowing to realize that soon it’ll be out in the world, in people’s hands, doing things and making friends that I don’t know about.

Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

I’d invite Dorothy Parker and Edward Gorey to accompany me on a tour of Europe, where we’d serve oysters and champagne cocktails to our delighted attendees. Apart from the book-related events, I imagine this trip would mostly consist of Dorothy and I sitting in a corner, drinking whiskey, and trading bitchy bon mots about everyone we’d met, with Edward occasionally looking up from his drink and whispering, “Do you ever wonder what spiders are thinking?” and then Dorothy would be like, “Geez, Edward, you’re such a freak!” and then we’d all laugh and laugh and laugh.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

“The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.”

I could only choose this sentence—it’s the very first one in the book, and it’s one of the few things that has remained unchanged and untouched from the day I first wrote it five years ago. Cheesy as it sounds, this is the sentence that made me a writer. It drew me in to the world of Amelia then, and I can only hope it will draw other people in now.

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone will be published by Dutton/Penguin on July 5, 2012. Read on for a chance to win a signed copy!


Kat Rosenfield is an internationally-published writer, illustrator, and advice columnist. When not working on a new novel, she can be found gossiping about people’s outfits on MTV’s Hollywood Crush and giving flirting pointers on Barnes & Noble’s SparkLife. She lives in Connecticut with a dog, a cat, and one charming gentleman.

Visit her at katrosenfield.com to find out more!

Check out Kat’s blog at pinkindiaink.tumblr.com.

Follow @katrosenfield on Twitter.


The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner!


What is the next Summer 2012 debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back tomorrow to find out.