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.
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.