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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy.

Sixteen-year-old Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss—a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time pecking out poems on my dad’s typewriter, making up stories on long school bus rides, and constantly lying about stuff. From that poetry-spewing, whopper-telling little kid, I took the long way around to being an author, but I don’t regret the journey.
I grew up in a small town north of New York City in Westchester County and then studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Brown University. After college, I craved adventure and maybe a little glamour too, so I moved to Los Angeles and learned how to write for film and television. While I was waiting for the proverbial big break, I worked at temp jobs, a film studio, and a celebrity publicity firm before going it freelance as an advertising copywriter. Eventually I taught myself HTML and how to make stuff for the then-brand-new Internet thing, and started running the website for the PBS teen documentary series “In the Mix.”
I enjoyed working in interactive media, which was a lot more rewarding than writing movie scripts that would never get made. I was fortunate to receive a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create a website called It’s My Life, which would be a safe place on PBS Kids for young people ages 9 to 13 to explore topics like dealing with divorce, bullying, puberty, and crushes. Many years later, It’s My Life has become an amazing community, and I love writing about all the things that are important to tweens.
Somewhere in there, I started a novel. Going back to fiction was like finding a key I’d lost at the bottom of a junk drawer. Realizing that I wanted to write for young adults was like finding the hidden door that key opened.
Now I’m in the place behind that door, living and writing in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley with my husband, two daughters, an orange cat named Squash, and a small grey tiger named Angel (don't tell him he's just a tabby). I still tell whoppers sometimes, but only if I have to or am really, really bored.

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