We are thrilled to be included on the Blog Tour for These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips! For our stop we have Rebecca herself discussing the evolution of a her latest novel.
What started with a simple email three years ago led to a new editor a few tears and a beautiful completed novel! Rebecca Phillips discusses the evolution of These Things I’ve Done.
The Evolution of These Things I’ve Done
Exactly three years ago, in the summer of 2014, I’d recently finished editor revisions on my book Faking Perfect and was starting to play around with some new book ideas. There were a couple I had in mind, but I couldn’t quite figure out the plots. Nothing really grabbed me and made me think I have to write this. I felt like my creativity well had dried up and I might never get excited about an idea again.
Fast forward a bit to August 2014. I received an email from my author friend Cara titled “I HAVE YOUR NEXT BOOK IDEA.” I was totally stuck, floundering in the abyss of discarded plot bunnies, so it was a welcome sight. At least one of us was inspired, right? Anyway, when I opened the email and saw her idea, a book about a girl who accidentally kills her best friend, I was skeptical. My books up to that point hadn’t exactly been light and fluffy, but this was a little too heavy for me. I told her I’d think about it, knowing I probably wouldn’t.
But then I did. For days. While I was mopping the floor. While I was doing laundry. While I was lying in bed. The idea would not leave me alone. I had in my head the image of a girl, tall and blond, happy and fearless…until tragedy strikes. And a boy, talented and quiet and geeky, who loves her secretly. To make it even more complicated, the boy and the dead best friend would be siblings.
That’s all it took. After several more email brainstorming sessions with Cara, I had an outline. I had a first line (“I am a statue.”) I had a format (non-linear, alternating timelines). I had supporting characters and backstories and several scenes already mapped out in my brain (the clearest one involved a band showcase, a spontaneous fist fight, and a first kiss).
I started drafting at the end of 2014. It was going well—until it wasn’t. I hit a wall just a few chapters in and barely wrote for a month. Though challenging to write, the story itself was going well. But I had no motivation, probably because I was putting so much pressure on myself to get it right. Luckily, I was able to break through the wall, and I spent the next few weeks hammering out the rest of the draft. It was hard, and I cried more than once, but I finished my first draft in May 2015.
My beta readers loved it. That was great. My agent at the time liked it a lot, but thought it was too quiet to sell to a big press. That was not so great. Then, just as I’d resigned myself to either trunking or self-publishing the manuscript, my agent stopped repping YA. My book and I were turned over to Eric Smith, a newcomer at the same agency who was working on building his client list. He’d read These Things I’ve Done and loved it. He wanted to work with me. It took me about, oh, an hour or so to realize I wanted to work with him too.
As it turned out, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. These Things went out on submission in November 2015. Just two months later, in January 2016, it sold in a two-book deal to HarperTeen. It was a dream come true for both of us.
The path to publication for this book hasn’t been an easy one, by any means. There were some disappointments. Many challenges. Two difficult revisions. A lot—and I mean a lot—of waiting for things to happen. But now, exactly three years after that fateful email from Cara about a story idea, the book that so many people worked on is now out in the world. And I can’t wait to do it all over again with the next one.
– Rebecca Phillips, Author
Now that you know how Rebecca came to write Dara’s story, let’s learn about THESE THINGS I’VE DONE…
A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.
It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn’t half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, every day. Not just because he’s a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she’s betraying her best friend one final time.
These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips is available now. This is perfect book to end your summer. Congratulations to Rebecca and Happy Reading!