Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Whenever I'm With You by Lydia Sharp

Hi guys! Today, we're featuring a YA romance novel on #CelebratingDebutantes2017. Whenever I'm With You is written by Lydia Sharp, who also happens to be an editor at Entangled Pub! The book is set in Alaska, so readers looking for a little bit of nature in their books would enjoy this. Aside from the fun interview, Lydia is also presenting an exclusive deleted scene from Whenever I'm With You that has never been shared before in other platforms! I hope you guys enjoy this. :)

What or who inspired you to write Whenever I'm with You?

The story of Chris McCandless was a huge inspiration for this story. If you haven’t read Into the Wild by John Krakaur yet, I highly recommend it. I’ve been fascinated with Chris’s story since I first heard of it—what made him do what he did? Then I took that question and asked it of a fictional character who does something similar, takes a journey into dangerous territory on his own without telling anyone. Kai’s story and Chris’s story are NOT the same, but Chris was a big inspiration for the story idea that led to this book, and you’ll find a lot of nods to him throughout.

What was the hardest scene or part to write?

The ending chapters, hands down. Not the very last chapter, which wraps everything up, but the cluster of chapters right before it that make up the finale and climax. From first draft to finished book, I rewrote the finale at least three times. And I mean *complete* rewrites—totally different things happened in each version. I also went back and forth a few times on whether the twins would find their dad alive or dead at the end of the journey. My editor and I discussed that particular point at length before we agreed on what would work best.

I can’t go into more detail without giving away spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet, but I can say the original finale included a scene where Hunter and Gabi jump out of a helicopter in flight. I really liked that part, so I found a way to have Gabi and Kai do something similar in the final version. You’ll have to read the book to see what it is. :)

Was it easy or difficult to distinguish Kai from Hunter and vice versa? While you were writing how did you choose which twin would be the one to disappear and stay with Gabi?

The decision was made in the idea stage of the book, before the story was written. I developed the twins’ personalities *after* I knew which would leave and which would accompany Gabi on her journey to find the other.

Knowing that ahead of time helped me figure out who they were as individuals. Since Kai is the one who takes off on his own, I thought about what kind of person would do what he did, and went from there. He is energetic and impulsive, goal-driven, likes a challenge, doesn’t always make the right decision but has good intentions. He also prefers to solve things on his own, without help. And when I thought about how Hunter might react to his disappearance, I realized he was much more levelheaded than Kai. He thinks long and hard before making a decision, weighs all the options, does what’s best for everyone, not just himself. He also has a very protective spirit and often takes on the role of caregiver.

So their personalities complement each other but also cause friction between them sometimes because they have differing views. Once I figured that out, it was easy to keep them as separate people in my head. They aren’t physically identical, either, so that helped, too.

Could you share your favorite line from the book? How did you come up with this line?

My favorite line was actually *so much* my favorite—and my editor’s—that we put it at the beginning of the book, on its own page, before the story starts.

“Wherever you go, let your heart lead your feet.”

I honestly don’t remember how I came up with that! But it’s been a life motto for me ever since. :)

Did you draw from personal experiences while writing this story?

Yes, several. :) But I’ll just mention a couple. I sometimes work as an extra in movies, which Gabi also did when she lived in SoCal. There is a part in the book where she relays one of her experiences on set with her mom, and much of what she says was drawn from what I learned as an extra. Working in movies can be fun, but I don’t think most people realize that when you’re not playing a big role, the majority of your day is spent just waiting around to be called in for a scene. Always bring a book!

Another thing I drew from personal experience was Gabi’s position as a child of divorced parents. The views she has mirror how I felt when my parents divorced, and I didn’t want to hold back from showing the ugly side of that situation. Her dad falls into a terrible depression. Gabi and her mother are not on speaking terms. And Gabi doesn’t always think rationally when the topic comes up, because she’s still too emotional about what happened. If your parents were married your whole life, coming to terms with their divorce when you’re a teen is extremely difficult. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but for those who have gone through it or who are going through it now, I wanted them to know they aren’t alone and what they feel is perfectly valid—even the dark stuff.

Could you share with us a deleted scene from Whenever I'm with You?
Sure! I’ve never shared this one anywhere yet, so you’re getting an exclusive. :)

After dinner, I go to bed early. In my state of half-asleep, half-awake, I hear Kai talking to Vicki in the other room. Hunter’s voice never joins them, and I can’t understand what they’re saying. The world fades in and out a few times, then I hear Kai tending the fire in our room, and he tosses another blanket over me. Over us. He huddles up in bed next to me. The tip of his nose touches my cheek, and he whispers, “If you can hear me, Gabi, I love you.”

He loves me. He’s never said that before. Does he expect me to say it back? I feel more strongly for him than anyone else I’ve been with. I’m incredibly concerned for his welfare. I care for him, a lot. But is that love? I’m not sure. The lengths we’ve gone to for each other on this trip might qualify as some kind of love, but I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant love love. The biggest kind. The kind of expression that shouldn’t be met with silence, and like a dummy that’s all I’m giving him.

Unfazed by my lack of response, he fingers my hair, brushes a thumb over my cheek. He kisses me lightly on the lips and curls an arm around me, pulling me close. “We’ll be all right now. All of us. Everything’s going to be okay.”

“Promise?” I whisper.

“That and more,” he says. “I’d promise you the sun, moon, and stars if I could, make them shine just for you.”

“I don’t want all that, Kai. I just want you.” Even so, I still can’t get myself to say those three little words that flowed so easily from his lips a moment ago. He doesn’t seem to care, though, as he uses those same lips to show me how much he meant every syllable, over and over and over again.

—end of excerpt—

Thank you so much for having me here!

Thank you, Lydia!

About the Author:

Lydia Sharp worked a number of different jobs, everything from retail management to veterinary medicine, before turning their passion for stories into a career. They are now an editor for Entangled Publishing and write young adult novels with lots of kissing and adventures. Lydia lives in Ohio with their husband, son, and an ever-growing collection of owls. When not completely immersed in a book, Lydia binges on Netflix, pines for Fall, and hosts mad tea parties in Wonderland. Follow on Twitter @lydia_sharp for writing updates and other shenanigans. Life is an adventure—turn the page.

Find Lydia: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 304 pages
January 3, 2017, Scholastic Press

A missing boy.

A road trip into the Alaskan wilderness.

A week that will change everything…

After Gabi’s parents’ divorce, she moves to Alaska with her dad. At first, it feels like banishment—until she meets Kai. He welcomes her into his life, sharing his family, his friends, and his warmth. Until suddenly, Kai pulls away for seemingly no reason at all. He’s quiet, withdrawn. Then one day, he disappears.

Kai’s twin, Hunter, believes Kai’s retracing their missing father’s steps in the wilderness north of Anchorage. When they learn there’s a blizzard on the way, Gabi’s hurt at Kai’s coldness swiftly turns to serious concern. He’s alone out there. This is the boy who saved her from the dark. She can’t lose him to it.

So Gabi convinces Hunter to join her on a wild journey north—a trip that will challenge them physically and emotionally, as they try to convince the boy they love to return home.


Thanks to Lydia for sponsoring this giveaway!

What's up for grabs:

For US residents: A signed hardcover of Whenever I'm With You
For International readers: A hardcover of Whenever I'm With You shipped from the Book Depository

Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. That deleted scene is sooo cute <3 <3 looking forward to reading this!!

  2. I love the interview post very much. :)

  3. Loved this story. Lots of page turning events and when I thought the story was over there was another. Looking forward to see what else Lydia Sharp has for us.

    Cath Brookes
    Veritable Top Towing in Georgetown TX company