Welcome to the blog tour for
MY LAST KISS by BETHANY NEAL!
I am positively THRILLED to be on the blog tour for Bethany Neal’s debut novel, MY LAST KISS! A big thanks to Bethany Neal, The Fantastic Flying Book Club, and Macmillan Teen for arranging and hosting the blog tour!
If you’re not familiar with MY LAST KISS, it is being released on JUNE 10th, people! Very exciting stuff! It’s a great mix between contemporary, mystery, and paranormal and it definitely had a Before I Fall type of feel for those of you who were fans of Lauren Oliver’s book!
Bethany Neal writes YA novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. The things she is obsessed with include, but are not limited to: nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, pickles, dessert, predestined love, not growing up, sour gummy candies, music videos, Halloween, and fictional boys who play guitar. MY LAST KISS is her first novel. // Website • Facebook • Instagram • Twitter
“OPEN INTERVIEW” WITH AUTHOR BETHANY NEAL!
For my part of the blog tour, I got to interview author Bethany Neal in what we call an “open interview”. So what does that mean? Just that instead of formal Q&A, we actually set up a time to chat about all kinds of things (but of course the book too!) Check out our Q&A below!
Brittany: My Last Kiss was your debut novel. What was the biggest inspiration for you to finally pick up the pen (so to speak) and write Cassidy’s story?
Bethany Neal: Well, MLK is technically my second novel. I landed my agent with a different YA mystery/thriller love story that didn’t end up selling. But the inspiration for Cassidy’s story came from a number of things. My initial idea was that she was alive and Ethan (then named Evan) had died in a car accident and it was her fault.
Brittany: Aww man!! I am always interested in YA mystery/thrillers!! Shame it didn’t sell… I’d definitely hope to read that someday!
Beth: Thanks. I hope you do too! I still love those characters so much–especially the dreamy love interest.
Beth: Anyway, Cassidy’s so was ironically way too woe is me with her alive. So with some inspiration from the Metric song ‘Help, I’m Alive’ I decided she wasn’t…alive. And the story took off from there.
Brittany: Oooooh I love that song. I can totally see that!
Beth: You know Metric?!
Brittany: I don’t know a lot of Metric but I do know that song a love it! (I am in no way a real writer but feel the need to share that it inspired an idea for me as well — one that I never started working on, but the idea was there! I literally have a single page haha)
Beth: No way! That song is MAGICAL!
Brittany: I definitely felt like My Last Kiss was a combination of several different types of “ghost stories” all rolled into one. Do you have a preference between contemporary and mystery and horror or a little bit of everything all rolled into one?
Beth: I’m a huge fan of shades of gray (but not the 50 kind!). Stories that blend elements of the supernatural while still keeping the characters and plot grounded in some kind of reality are my favorites. Although I do prefer anything with a dark side.
Beth: Ghosts have always fascinated me. Their mere existence is just so bittersweet. They’re here, but not here. Being able to see but not touch–it’s heartbreaking.
Brittany: Gonna throw it out there… Patrick Swayze in Ghost? Totally a vibe I got in MLK! (So, you know, I hope you liked that movie haha)
Beth: GAH I LOVE SWAYZE!!!!!
Brittany: OH PHEW!!!
Beth: I mean, come on. He’s basically the perfect man. He can dance. He can rip out a bad dude’s throat (in Road House). And he’s BUFF!
Brittany: Haha he really can do it all!!!
Brittany: Aside from the “unfinished business” of solving her own death, do you think Cassidy came back to tie up other loose ends of her life before it was her time to move on?
Beth: I think Cassidy’s staying in the living plain depended on her resolving the horrible way in which she died, but the reason she was brought back was Ethan. Love conquers all…even death and all that.
Brittany: I love that.
Brittany: “Death cannot stop true love”
Brittany: (Sorry, HUGE Princess Bride fan over here)
Beth: Oh, don’t get me start on Wesley. Only man alive that could make me approve of a male ponytail.
Brittany: YES. I think that is the only male ponytail I have even been attracted to
Beth: I know, right! Maybe it’s the way it compliments the pirate mask.
Brittany: True.. I just seems to fit well together. And sword fighting
Brittany: [Comments about staying on track… The Princess Bride easily distracts people] So Cassidy has to relive her memories in order to put together the pieces of the mystery of her last days/hours. Do you have any specific memories you would relive if given the chance?
Beth: Oh so many. That’s part of why I write YA. It’s an opportunity to relive a little and redo things the way you wish you’d done them the first time. I think I’d go back to all the bonfire parties my high school best friend used to throw on weekends. Those were the days…
Brittany: Ohhh, those were the days indeed. We had quite a few bonfires as well!
Beth: I’d also tell my younger self to stop being so darn shy!
Brittany: Perfect transition into… Cassidy died before she was able to set the wrongs in her life right. If you were given the opportunity, would you ever go back in time to change anything in your life or a you a believer in “everything happens for a reason”/“you learn from your mistakes”?
Beth: I do believe everything happens for a reason, but I would totally go back and try to change certain things. For instance, I would apply to film school after I graduated high school. Mostly, I’d be more brave the second time around.
Beth: I like the ends of my life, just not necessarily the means. If that makes sense.
Brittany: It definitely does! I feel like I would have changed a few things here and there BUT I always wonder (oh, parallel universes) if that would change where I ended up and I would never want to change the end result!
Beth: I’ve seen enough time travel movies to know it doesn’t end well, but I don’t think I could resist the urge.
Brittany: Haha always my worry But I know I’d end up changing SOMETHING if given the opportunity! It’s too good of an offer to pass up
Beth: And if you hold on to the everything happens for a reason fate thing, you will end up where you are now anyway, it’ll just be by a different path. No alternate universes allowed!
Brittany: Very true!!
Beth: That got unintentionally philosophical…
Brittany: Never a problem! I always enjoy a good philosophical discussion that includes parallel universes too haha!
Beth: Girl after my own heart
Brittany: MLK revolves around the events that transpired Cassidy’s birthday party (which IF I remember correctly was dangerously close to mine) — did you include the birthday aspect in the story intentionally? (A sort of reminder of how young these characters really were and how it was much too soon for Cassidy?)
Beth: Oh, how creepy for you! Should I say sorry or you’re welcome??
Brittany: Haha it’s a good kind of creepy, no worries! I actually really enjoy making that connection!!
Beth: Oh good! Now back to your question…
Beth: The birthday party scene was one of the first I wrote. I usually don’t outline before I start writing, so it came to me very organically. The party atmosphere and interactions are very much familiar from snapshots of my teen years. Though my main goal was to have a ton going on with very few answers offered to the reader so they’d be placed in the chaotic state of mind Cassidy’s that night. I didn’t make a conscious effort to address Cassidy’s youth by having her die at her 17th birthday party.
Beth: I think subconsciously I may have though.
Brittany: Ooh very awesome! A lot of that reminded me of my teenage/younger years as well! Organic is the perfect description. It all just felt so natural and real.
Beth: My subconscious works overtime when I write.
Brittany: haha it’s funny how that works!
Beth: Good! It was important to me that even though Cassidy was a ghost the story felt real.
Brittany: Absolutely! Even the setting felt incredibly vivid. Did you have any real life inspirations for the locations? (I’m eyeing that bridge…)
Beth: I did have a real life location in mind while I was writing about the bridge/river. My hometown is in a river valley and there’s a rail bridge near my boyfriend’s parents’ house that I mentally spruced up to make it more visually interesting. I even have pictures for you on this one! Here’s the rail bridge that I changed into a covered bridge in the book.
Brittany: I definitely felt like I had a good picture of the bridge so I loved how easy it was to picture!
Beth: And here’s a picture of the river taken last year on the exact day Cassidy died. Creepy-awesome or what?
Beth: So happy the bridge came alive for you while you read
Brittany: Ooooooh creepy-awesome for sure!
Brittany: That pretty much covers my big burning questions! (Unless there’s anything else you’d like to add!)
Brittany: Thank you SO much for letting me interview you! I had a blast with the open interview format and so happy we got to chat!!!
Beth: Mind if I ask you a question?
Brittany: Ask away!
Beth: Which character did you just adore and which character did you want to punch off the page?
Brittany: Oooh awesome question
Brittany: I loved Ethan from the beginning but towards the end I really grew a respect for Aimee! As for punching people (lol) hmm. In the beginning…. I actually don’t think I felt strong negative feelings for anyone. Maybe a little bit for Cassidy, actually, because we find out that she may have cheated on Ethan. I didn’t feel angry enough to punch her though! Towards the end, I was really upset with [possible spoilers redacted!] I also surprisingly liked Caleb. A lot. I had a guy best friend growing up so I really appreciated both his friendly affections for Cassidy and his deeper feelings
Beth: This is so interesting and fun to hear!
Brittany: Great question! I bet it’s incredibly interesting to hear how people react to the characters — both as they read and also how personal connections affect that perception
Beth: It so is. This is officially my favorite part of being an author.
Another HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to Bethany Neal! We had such a blast chatting and I really loved the open interview format. I had such a great time talking with Bethany Neal about My Last Kiss (and of course, Patrick Swayze and bonfire memories and The Princess Bride).
Want to connect with Bethany Neal? (I’m sure you do after that amazing Q&A!) Check out her links below!
Bethany’s Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram
And be sure to check out the stops on the MY LAST KISS blog tour too! They have some other amazing features for this fantastic book!
MY LAST KISS BLOG TOUR
There’s also a fabulous giveaway and prizes for one lucky winner! Please see all of the details below before entering. Good luck!!!