As you may have seen, if you follow my Facebook or Twitter pages, I have a second novel coming out! We Go Together will be released by NineStar Press later this year, in 2020. It’s a YA contemporary about Kat, a girl trying to process a traumatic relationship that has since ended, returning to her childhood summer home. There, she reunites with some of her old friends, and together they set out to have the best summer they possibly can. But the years have changed her friends, and each of them come with their own baggage that may take a summer to unpack.
We Go Together began as a meeting of two main ideas. First, there was a summer music camp story I had attempted to write when I was fourteen or fifteen. I’d tried starting that story many times, but never got past character introductions. No matter how hard I tried, I could never come up with a decent plot besides “they’re at music camp and there’s drama.” But the characters still intrigued me years after I abandoned it. One character, Tristan (back then he was named Jude), in particular always stood out to me, so much that I tried to stick him in any new story idea I was working with. It never worked.
The other inspiration came from, as I’ll call it, the “Sandy debate.” As long as I’ve lived, there’s always been someone ready to interject “Sandy changes everything about herself for a guy” as soon as you bring up the classic movie-musical Grease. It bothered me to no end, especially as I grew older. I understood Sandy’s motivations the older I became (even if it wasn’t the director’s intention), and identified with her desire to change everything about herself. It wasn’t that she wanted to change herself to be someone Danny would love, but more she felt the need to change herself based on the way everyone around her treated her. If she looked “tough” maybe everyone wouldn’t mock her as they’d been doing the entirety of the story. I even wrote a poem about Sandy’s transformation in my now-published book Poems Worth Saving.
The poem felt like just the beginning of a bigger conversation, and as I was editing it, a character formed in my head. This girl was another “Sandy” type, who was feminine, shy, and a little naive of the world around her. This caused many damaging perceptions of her, by her friends and her ex-boyfriend, who ultimately saw her as a conquest to “deflower.” What kind of affect would those perceptions have on a person? How would she go about creating her drastic transformation, and have her moment where she’s finally free, dancing at a carnival?
Sexual violence against young women is unfortunately common, and even more so with young bisexual women. The ways in which the violence occurs is often subtle and difficult to interpret in the moment with an intimate partner. Much of We Go Together is Kat’s journey to understanding what happened to her while she was this very imbalanced and abusive relationship.
But it is not a story without hope. It’s also about friendship, love, and music. Kat is a musician, and tries to find healing through the songs she listens to, performs, and writes. It’s a novel-long journey, to rediscover the joy she once felt for her passion. But through the help of her friends and the adventures they go on, she slowly finds herself, and finds a way to finally heal.
We Go Together was a difficult book to write, but Kat spoke to me so strongly I knew I had to try. I am so happy her story will be accessible to young people in the coming year.
You can add We Go Together on Goodreads now by clicking here.