I recently got an opportunity to chat with Melissa Chambers, author of THE SUMMER BEFORE FOREVER (August 22nd, Entangled Teen), about bucket lists, hot stepbrothers and writing complex female characters. My interview is below, but let’s get started with a bit about Melissa’s book. And be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
About THE SUMMER BEFORE FOREVER
Some boys break your heart. Others teach you how to heal it.
Chloe Stone’s life is a hot mess. Determined to stop being so freaking skittish, she packs up her quasi-famous best friend and heads to Florida. The goal? Complete the summer bucket list to end all bucket lists. The problem? Her hot soon-to-be stepbrother, Landon Jacobs.
Landon’s mom will throttle him if he even looks at his future stepsister the wrong way. Problem is, Chloe is everything he didn’t know he wanted, and that’s…inconvenient. Watching her tear it up on a karaoke stage, stand up to his asshole friend, and rock her first string bikini destroys his sanity.
But there’s more than their future family on the line. Landon is hiding something—something he knows will change how she feels about him—and she’s hiding something from him, too. And when the secrets come out, there’s a good chance neither will look at the other the same way again…
Five Questions with Melissa Chambers
KD: In THE SUMMER BEFORE FOREVER, Chloe Stone and her BFF Jenna hit the road with a summer bucket list in hand. Bucket list books seem to be really popular right now with teen and middle grade readers. Why do you think these books are having a moment? Do you think it reflects a desire on the part of young people to stop and smell the roses?
MC: I think there’s a movement right now, not just among teens, but for all of us to put our phones down and get out and do stuff! Bonus if that stuff brings us out of our comfort zones. In THE SUMMER BEFORE FOREVER, Chloe has had her confidence shaken, and so as she finds herself able to conquer terrifying tasks on her list, her confidence builds and her old self emerges. I’ll never forget the first time I stepped onto a karaoke stage and belted out a song. Even though glasses were probably shattering and animals were likely hiding under beds in homes within a five mile radius, I walked off that stage feeling like I could arm wrestle Captain America.
KD: Jenna strikes me as a kind of controversial character and a little bit different than the standard, supportive- all-the-time BFF. How did you approach writing this character?
MC: I’m not gonna lie…I love writing Jenna! I really wanted Chloe to have a best friend who wasn’t going to snap her fingers and solve all Chloe’s problems. I sort of wanted her best friend to be part of the problem. Not every teen or adult for that matter has that perfect best friend who they’re totally in sync with, who lifts them up and supports them in every way. I feel like Jenna actually does do those things, she just does them in her own way, which isn’t always the most convenient for Chloe. But when push comes to shove, there is no one in the world I’d rather have in my corner than Jenna. She’s fiercely loyal and could probably take down Godzilla if you gave her the chance.
KD: I’d like to ask about the stepbrother romance aspect of THE SUMMER BEFORE FOREVER. Why do you think this is such a tantalizing prospect? I’ve got three step brothers and let’s just say none of them are a Landon Jacobs!
MC: Ha! That’s probably a good thing! Chloe is an only child, so she’s thrilled about finally gaining a sibling and seeing what that’s like. She has these pipe dreams about her stepbrother being a close friend who will draw with her on the beach and share her love for alt rock. She’s actually bummed when she meets Landon and finds him to be completely opposite of what she hoped to get in a stepbrother. I think their differences make the forming of their friendship easier in some ways. But let’s be honest. This is a hot boy she’s really starting to like, and he sleeps on the other side of her bedroom wall. There has to be something a little intriguing about that!
KD: You’re from Nashville and work in the music industry. Does music play a big role in this book and is it a part of your writing process?
MC: I’m a music fanatic. Have been since I can remember. Jenna is a pop princess, and Chloe is an alt rock queen. My tastes run pretty parallel with Chloe’s. Knowing the huge part that music played in my own teenage years, I didn’t see how I could write this book without music holding a lot of weight in this story.
As far as my writing process goes, I would love to be able to listen to my music while I write, but I love it so much and get so into the lyrics that it distracts me. I have been known to listen to movie scores with my noise canceling headphones on while writing…especially when I need to drown out life going on around me.
KD: THE SUMMER BEFORE FOREVER is the first in the planned Before Forever series. What can readers look forward to in book two?
MC: Let’s just say if you’re intrigued by Jenna, you’ll get inside her crazy brain in book two! She’ll find herself in a few messes and trying to figure out Miles, a superhot nerd who is the exact opposite of every boy she’s ever thought she wanted.
Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She’s a member of SCBWI and RWA including several local and online chapters thereof. She holds her B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee.
Giveaway! Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!