Book Title: Life After Juliet
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Contemporary YA
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.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you to write?
I’ve always been a writer of sorts, keeping journals from the moment my aunt gifted me a diary with a little lock and key. Writing has always been a safe way for me to process the world around me. I’ve always been uncomfortable with conflict and even as an adult, I struggle to accept that sometimes (most of the time) life is not fair. Writing has helped me put my swirling emotions into place.
Eventually, I began to use stories to try to work through ideas and concepts that I couldn’t accept in life. Broken hearts, lying and cheating, friendships that drift and end, and other similar subjects became the focus of fictional narratives I’d write. Normally, I’d begin to understand what I was struggling with after writing out a few scenarios or conversations, so I was never particularly driven to finish the stories.
On top of that, as a perfectionist, it was easiest to put off finishing the story until a time when I could “do it properly,” which is code for “never” in the land of perfectionism. So I ended up with lots of stories I never finished because of a fear of failure.
All that changed for me around the time my son was born. My good friend Em had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer about six years before, when we were twenty-three-years-old. She’d beaten it for about five years, but just before we turned thirty, it came back. This time I was able to go and be with Em in the infusion therapy lab for her chemo treatments. The experience changed my life.
I was terrified of chemo. Em was, too, I’m sure. But more than being terrified by it, she was always hopeful that she would be able to hold on until a time when there was a cure for her cancer. She had a way of physically and emotionally mastering her fear. I watched it once, as it flickered across her face just before the nurse administered her chemo. I was devastated by that fear. But Em, she just smiled and told a joke.
My Em taught me how to be brave, even when failure was a big possibility. Because of her bravery, I decided to take charge of my own life and finish a story I’d started. I told myself that it didn’t have to be a good story. It just had to be complete. It needed a beginning, a middle, and most importantly, an end.
A year later, I’d finished a story, a truly terrible story that I hope no one ever reads! But I’d done it. So I started a new one. That story turned into LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES, which is dedicated to my Em. She’d passed away years before I was able to get it published, but I like to think she’d like the story. I think she’d like the humor and the heartache and how they go hand-in-hand, just like in real life.
And because I can’t let my Em down, when I finished LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES, I started another story, which became LIFE AFTER JULIET. And now that that one is done, well, you get the point. Em’s legacy isn’t that she inspired me to write one story, but that she inspired me to challenge myself despite my fears. I’ll keep doing that in her memory until I’ve got no more stories to tell.
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. She spent most of her time in high school hiding out in the theater with the drammies and techies. Math still makes her break out in a sweat. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.
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