What Happens Now
Release Date: June 7th 2016
"I know what it is to want something so badly, you feel like your cells aren’t properly bonded together without it.
I also know what it’s like to get that something.
And honestly, I’m still not sure which is worse..."
Ari Logan is battling to win her war against depression and the dark night she hurt herself on purpose. It’s not easy: her best friend is drifting away, her mom’s emotionally checked out, and she spends her days playing caregiver to her handful of a half-sister, Danielle. But it’s summer, and anything is possible...
That’s when Camden Armstrong steps onto the beach of Ari’s local swimming lake.
At first, Ari quietly longs for Camden from afar, seeing in him everything she wants to be. When the two discover a true connection the following summer, Ari lets herself fall not just for the quirky and self-assured Camden but also his friends, tumbling into their world of independence, adventure, and shared sci-fi fandom. As Ari’s romantic dreams come true, she must unlock the mysteries of the very real and troubled boy behind her infatuation, while also struggling with her own demons, obligations, and loyalties.
From the award-winning author of "The Beginning of After" and "You Look Different in Real Life," "What Happens Now" is a touching, insightful novel about learning to heal, learning to love, and what happens when fantasy becomes reality.
I don’t actually have one! But the book that had the biggest impact on my when I was a teenager was “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath.
Favorite TV show?
“My So-Called Life”
Your Favorite Song?
“I Melt With You” by Modern English
Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.
Middle Earth. Downton Abbey. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Who is your perfect fictional boyfriend?
I’m not sure if he’d be “perfect,” but I can very much see myself enjoying the company of Four from the Divergent series.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon was a smart guy.
What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?
“Star Trek.” Everything “Star Trek.” The Original Series, The Next Generation, the original movies, the new movies. It all just makes me so happy.
If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be?
Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about What Happens Now?
“What Happens Now” is a summer romance about a girl learning to live with depression, discovering new possibilities in her life, and finding the balance between fantasy and reality when it comes to love. It’s got lots of kissing and cosplay.
Can you tell us a bit more about your characters, Ari and Camden, and about their personality?
Ari feels trapped. Trapped by her depression, by her reputation as “the girl who cut herself,” by her responsibilities caring for her younger sister and helping out at her stepfather’s store. She’s ready for some freedom, but she can’t. All she’s been able to do is fantasize about it, and about the mysterious boy she pines for at the local swimming lake. But she’s smart and funny and knows everything there is to know about “Silver Arrow,” the sci-fi series of which she’s a superfan.
Camden seems to have that freedom: he lives with his artist mom in a converted barn, goes to an alternative private school where he can study whatever he wants, and cosplays with his cool friends. But Camden actually wants exactly what Ari has: stability and a “normal” life. He’s overcoming a childhood trauma and doesn’t know who his father is.
How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?
The story really comes from two places: (1) I really wanted to write a romance, and I love summer so of course it had to be a summer romance. (2) For the first time with a novel, I wanted to draw directly from my own experience, so I’ll tell you a quick little story. When I was twenty years old and a junior in college, I sank into an unexplained depression. I didn’t know how to get help, and eventually I was in so much pain that I cut myself in order to get the attention I needed to save my life. It worked. I went into treatment with medication and therapy. By the middle of my senior year, I was much, much better...and that’s when I developed an epic burning crush on a boy from school. I didn’t know him that well, but I was able to project onto him all my hopes and dreams for my life moving forward. Eventually, he and I became friends, and I realized he was not at all who he was in my fantasies. I knew I wanted this to be the heart of my book. It’s much harder than I thought it would be, to write something with such deep roots in your own life. But in the end, I’m really proud of how it turned out. It’s like I can finally close that chapter for myself.
Tell us your favorite quote from What Happens Now.
I don’t think I can choose a FAVORITE favorite, but here’s one I really love:
“In the strange and also strangely intimate minutes that followed, I stared out the window and thought about how getting to know someone is all about learning and unlearning at the same time. For every piece of new information you gain about that person, you might have to let go of something you thought was true.”
Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?
I loved writing the scene that takes place at the Ulster County Fair. I go to this fair every summer (it’s ten minutes from my house), and it’s so much fun. It’s permanently 1978 at the fair! So the scene is already pretty surreal, but the fact that my characters are cosplaying at the fair added to the cool-weirdness of it. Whenever I was working on that scene, it was like I could taste the cotton candy and corndogs.
If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for What Happens Now – Which one would you pick?
I have 32 songs on my writing playlist; do I have to pick just one? Hmm. It would be either “Collide” by Howie Day or “Demons” by Imagine Dragons.
Imagine that we get to see your book on the big screen (how awesome would that be?). Who would you pick to play your characters?
I would pick Mae Whitman to play Ari. For Camden, I would crossbreed a younger James McAvoy with my college crush guy. Yum!
Is there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read What Happens Now (specific music, snacks…)?
If you can read this book during the summer, that’s great. If you can read it near some body of water, that’s even better. As for snacks, I would say an iced tea and salt-and-vinegar potato chips will really get you inside the story. Buy me some while you’re at it.
What would you say to anyone who’s in Ari’s situation?
I would say, people are never who they seem to be on the surface, and that goes for yourself as well. Try to look beyond the day-to-day top layer of your world and see below, to what you really have. It’s probably more than you thought. And if that’s hard because you might be struggling with depression, then get help. Nobody will think less of you for it; you’re not being weak, you’re being strong. Talk to a trusted adult, visit the school counselor, call a hotline if you have to. Know that treatment works, and it can help you embrace the possible that lies ahead of you. It can literally save your life, and you deserve that life.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m writing a companion novel to WHAT HAPPENS NOW. It takes place four months after the end of this story, and focuses on two secondary characters named Kendall and Max. It’s another romance, but a very, very different kind of book. I didn’t want to let all these characters go just yet. They’re too much fun to hang out with!
Something to say to our Book Addicts?
Your passion for YA literature has literally changed the landscape of publishing. Thank you!
Thank you so much for everything, Jennifer!
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Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her debut, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best" book. YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE and its companion digital novella, PLAYING KEIRA, were published by HarperTeen in June 2013. Her next novel, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, is forthcoming from Harper in June 2016. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.
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