Cheating On Creepy Faces

So, if you’ve been hanging around here for a while, 1) I kind of pity you because really, I don’t make a whole lot of sense, and 2) you’ve probably heard me talk about my Creepy Faces book.

It’s awesome. And creepy. And I love it.

But.

BUT BUT BUT.

I just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

It was delicious and hilarious and heartbreaking and PERFECT.

Also: not paranormal. There was absolutely nothing magical (aside from St. Clair) about the story.

And I have realized something, Grasshoppers.

See, I’ve always assumed I would never write contemporary YA. (As far as I know, “contemporary” just means it’s not paranormal. Right?) It just seemed a little . . . boring. I thought my stories needed an otherwordly slant, an element of magic, a character that just wasn’t quite normal in order to be interesting.

But Anna? She has changed my mind.

And now I’m toying with the idea of cheating on Creepy Faces, at least temporarily, because I’ve got this AWESOME new concept, and it’s whispering to me and buying me lunch and paying for my gas and offering to do my taxes while babysitting my toddler for free.

The funny thing is, New Ideas normally strike when I’m in the midst of a falling out with my current work in progress. But Creepy Faces has been oddly . . . compliant. The story has unfolded without too much bloodshed and wearing of sackcloth.

So why the New Idea? Why did it decide to show up now?

I think it’s because I’ve got a story to tell that I’ve never known how to begin, and now I kind of . . . do.

See, back in the spring of 2003, I moved to Spain. It was a semester-long exchange program. There was one other girl from my university there, but I didn’t know her.

In fact, I didn’t know anyone. I was alone.

It was terrifying. I don’t know if you’ve ever moved to a foreign country BY YOURSELF and enrolled in classes that are taught in your SECOND LANGUAGE and had to put yourself out there to make friends because, lest we forget, you are BY YOURSELF–but if you’ve never done any of that, let me tell you something right now.

It is the most frightening thing in the entire world.

It is scarier than finding a cockroach in your bed and then, seconds later, discovering that the sucker can FLY.

Yes. It is THAT SCARY.

I spent roughly four weeks hating everything about Madrid, from the food to my apartment to my classes. I kept to myself for those four weeks, venturing out for walks every now and then, scrambling for a sense of belonging and wanting nothing more than to get back on the plane and go home.

And then week five rolled around.

I started hanging out with some girls from Colorado. Then I made friends with this boy from Texas in my conversation class. And eventually, I got in with some real live SPANIARDS.

I traveled all over Europe. I became a pro at navigating the Metro. I made A’s in all of my classes without hearing a word of English from any of my professors.

Life-changing. That semester was life-changing. There was so much more to it than what I’ve jotted down here. So many funny things, so many frightening things, so many sad things.

I’ve always wanted to write a fictional story based on that semester, but I never have, because I didn’t know how.

But now, thanks to Anna, I have some ideas.

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18 thoughts on “Cheating On Creepy Faces

  1. Ansley says:

    Whoohoo! This post is awesome! I love it because a) I have done the whole “go live overseas where no one knows your name” thing (although I didn’t speak the language OR take classes…yikes), b) I love it when you come up with a new idea because I know I’ll eventually get to READ said idea, and c) I like that you talked about *cheating on* Creepy Faces. So. Funny.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Yes–you can totally identify! And also I will absolutely force this thing on you once I get done. Don’t think you can escape me.

  2. Crystal says:

    YAY ANNA!

    I’m so glad you finally read her story and I hope LOLA is next 🙂

    I’m also toying with the idea of a contemporary and it’s scary because it’s not paranormal. Good luck!

    • Anne Riley says:

      Lola is TOTALLY next, although I’m reading my friend Delilah’s book right now. And I might buy a copy of Anna to mark up…

  3. Harley says:

    You go, girl. I can totally see you writing a book like that AND I WANT TO BE A READER FOR IT.

    Sorry I’ve kind of dropped the ball on your creepy faces, BUT IT IS JUST TOO CREEPY.

    Write. Write, Anne. Write.

  4. Madeline says:

    Just had to comment… Who is that gorgeous hunk of a man with the sexy smile??? I need to know!!!!! D:

    • Anne Riley says:

      Hahahaha! I don’t know who the model is, but I found him on this girl’s blog–she pictures Etienne St. Clair to look like him. I tried to link back to the blog but it wouldn’t work for some reason. 🙁

  5. Ali says:

    You should TOTALLY DO IT! It sounds awesome. Then I could live vicariously through you because I’ve always wanted to live abroad but never have.

  6. Alexandra Shostak says:

    I have an idea for a contemporary story, too, something I also never thought I’d want to write. Though I’m still not sure I want to write it.

    I think you should go for infidelity (once you’re at a good stopping point) and work on this new idea. 🙂

    If you liked Anna, have you ever read anything by Jennifer Echols?

    • Anne Riley says:

      I haven’t, but if you recommend her, then I’m on it! Why do I feel like she lives near me? Hmm….

  7. Jessica says:

    I love, love, love Anna. I can’t even. It actually inspired a novella that I wrote–and ultimately shoved under a pile of clothes. 🙂 Happy to hear that it inspired you as well! Looking forward to hearing more about it and being a reader for it if you’ll have me.

    BUT, I really hope you finish Creepy Faces. I love the pants off that manuscript, and I think it’s going to be amazing!

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