Robin, what was your inspiration for writing THE SEASON OF YOU & ME?
Cape May is magical any time of the year, but in December, when the Victorian houses are all decked out for the holidays, it’s really special. Years ago, during the holiday season, I stayed in a bed and breakfast with brand new owners. Our stay was a comedy of errors – pipes freezing, some rooms too hot, some rooms ice cold, and the new owners didn’t know how to handle it, except to shrug and smile and ask us all to be patient. In the morning, they were in the breakfast room with their young son, and one of the other guests asked him how he liked living in the bed and breakfast – and he shrugged and hid behind his mom. My brain took a snapshot of that moment and tucked it away. I wasn’t even seriously writing at the time, but I thought it would make an interesting story.
This book taught me to trust my instincts. Not to be afraid of dismantling a story if you realize that’s what’s best for it. During my second round of revisions, my editor wondered if I was really showcasing Cassidy in her best light, which basically meant – she was unlikeable. I know there’s a lot of heat with that word ‘unlikeable’ and I’m not against writing (or reading) unlikable characters, but in the first version of The Season of You & Me, Cassidy was sent to her father’s against her will – so she spent most of the book angry and scheming to get back home. Not really a great backdrop for romance and my editor was right, it didn’t show her in her best light because there was no reason to root for her. Cass also didn’t have much agency, she was reacting rather than being proactive, and while changing up her motivation would mean restructuring Cassidy’s chapters under a tight deadline, I knew it would serve the story. I’m happy with the way it turned out.
What do you hope readers will take away from THE SEASON OF YOU & ME?
When I first thought of writing this book, I wrestled a lot with my own fears – was I the right person to write a character with a disability? One day I was with my family at the mall and we saw this sports car screech into a handicapped parking spot. It was so loud that lots of people turned to look, and you could almost feel the collective thought bubble “Does this guy even know that’s a handicapped spot” but when the door opened, the driver put together his wheelchair in about thirty seconds and went off with his companion. It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me in the sense that I questioned why I was surprised that the driver of a sports car had a disability. Then I knew I had to do the book and that’s how I approached Bryan’s character – I kept saying – okay, show me what you can do and took it from there. So if there’s anything I’d like people to take away from the book is that while a person may have a disability, that’s not the sum total of who they are.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Be fearless in revision. Don’t make it only about grammar and spellcheck or switching up words here and there. Play with your manuscript – cut scenes, add new ones, see where the story takes you – sometimes it’s when the best writing happens.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Season of You & Me
by Robin Constantine
Balzer + Bray
Cassidy Emmerich is determined to make this summer—the last before her boyfriend heads off to college—unforgettable. What she doesn’t count on is her boyfriend breaking up with her. Now, instead of being poolside with him, Cass is over a hundred miles away, spending the summer with her estranged father and his family at their bed-and-breakfast at the Jersey Shore and working as the newest counselor at Camp Manatee.
Bryan Lakewood is sick of nevers. You’ll never walk. You’ll never surf. You’ll never slow dance with your date at prom. One miscalculated step and Bryan’s life changed forever—now he’s paralyzed and needs to use a wheelchair. This is the first summer he’s back at his former position at Camp Manatee and ready to reclaim some of his independence, in spite of those who question if he’s up for the job.
Cass is expecting two months dealing with heartbreak.
Bryan is expecting a summer of tough adjustments.
Neither of them is expecting to fall in love.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin Constantine is the author of The Promise of Amazing and The Secrets of Attraction. A born-and-raised Jersey girl, Robin likes to spend her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, eventually, but not without a lot of peril, angst, and the occasional kissing scene. She loves swoony books, flip-flops, dark chocolate and the full moon.
Have you had a chance to read THE SEASON OF YOU & ME yet? Have you struggled with making a character more likable? Do you find some of your best writing happens during fearless revisions? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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