Monday, April 29, 2019

Interview with Jacqueline West for Last Things

Last Things

by Jacqueline West
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: May 7th 2019
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy
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When strange things start happening to local music idol Anders Thorson, everyone blames his number-one-fan, Thea. But is she out to hurt him? Or protect him?

High school senior Anders Thorson is unusually gifted. His band, Last Things, is legendary in their northern Minnesota hometown. With guitar skills that would amaze even if he weren’t only eighteen, Anders is the focus of head-turning admiration. And Thea Malcom, a newcomer to the insular town, is one of his admirers. Thea seems to turn up everywhere Anders goes: gigs at the local coffeehouse, guitar lessons, even in the woods near Anders’s home. When strange things start happening to Anders—including the disappearance of his beloved cat, then his sort-of girlfriend, and, somehow, his musical talent—blame immediately falls on Thea. But is she trying to hurt him? Or save him? Can he trust a girl who doesn’t seem to know the difference between dreams and reality? And how much are they both willing to compromise to get what they want?

Can you briefly describe Last Things and their main characters?

In a teeny tiny nutshell, Last Things is my modern-day, Minnesotan, metal reimagining of the legend of the guitarist who might have sold his soul to the devil. 

The main characters are Anders Thorson—high school senior, guitar prodigy, and self-deprecating, sensitive, secret-haunted kid—and Thea Malcolm. Thea is a new to Anders’s small northern Minnesota town, and like everyone else in the area, she’s a fan of Anders’s band, Last Things. In fact, she might be more of a stalker than a fan. She appears everywhere Anders goes: band practice, guitar lessons, the woods outside his bedroom window. 

Like Anders, Thea is keeping secrets. And hers might be even more dangerous. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

Gah, I have to pick just one?! 

Honestly, I adore them all. I wish I could hang out in Patrick’s garage and listen to Anders and Jezz and Patrick rehearse for the next Last Things show. I wish I could get a cappuccino at the Crow’s Nest and eavesdrop on Ike and Janos and Thea.

Getting to step inside of both Anders and Thea, to get to know them deeply and to use their voices, was one of my favorite things about writing this book. It was so freeing and so much fun. If other people love them half as much as I do, I’ll be happy. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

Elements of this book seemed to come to me in big chunks—often while I was driving. I heard Thea’s voice for the first time, and I realized exactly how the book was going to begin, while zooming down a rural road in western Wisconsin. Sometimes entire songs would strike me that way; the chorus and verses to “Superhero”—one of Last Things’ big hits—came to me all at once, while I was on my way to a long-distance school visit. It was exciting and weird and more than a little distracting. (Sorry, fellow drivers.) 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

I suppose it would have to be one of the many songs in the book! “Devil’s Due” and “Falling Star” are both very tied to the plot and themes. 

If I were picking a song from outside the book, I’d probably go with “Right Where It Belongs” by Nine Inch Nails. 

Since it is still cold outside, what hot drink do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

This is SUCH a coffee book. It would have to be a cappuccino—ideally made by Janos at the Crow’s Nest, with rich espresso and a little leaf drawn in the foam on top. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish Last Things?

Maggie Stiefvater! I love The Scorpio Races most of all, but Shiver even has that Minnesota/music connection. April Genevieve Tucholke also writes great, eerie, twisty novels where you’re not sure who you can believe, like Wink Poppy Midnight and The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

What’s next for you?

A Storm of Wishes, the sequel to my 2018 middle-grade fantasy The Collectors, will be released in October 2019. And then I get to work on some new projects! I’m currently making my way through another creepy YA (tentatively titled Black Point) and embarking on another middle-grade mystery/dark fantasy set mostly in an odd library.

Jacqueline West is the author of the NYT-bestselling middle grade series The Books of Elsewhere, the YA novel Dreamers Often Lie, and the new middle grade fantasy The Collectors.

She is also the author of two poetry collections, Cherma and Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions, and her poetry and short fiction appear in a variety of publications.

She lives in Red Wing, Minnesota, with her family.

1 comment:

  1. That cover is incredible! Being a local celebrity in a northern Minnesota town would certainly be a strange thing!