Author Chat with Heather Cumiskey (I Love You Like That), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Heather Cumiskey author of
I Love You Like That.
Read on for more about Heather and her book, plus an excerpt and an giveaway!
Meet Heather Cumiskey!
Originally from Garden City, New York, Heather Cumiskey is the daughter of a television veteran and a fearless homemaker. With three older brothers, she often turned to the teen book section in her town library in search of the answers when it came to girl stuff, boys, and coping with parents.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in English at State University of New York at Albany where she also studied dance and choreography. For more than two decades, she has worked as an advertising and marketing copywriter.
When she’s not writing, she lends her legs, lungs, and heart in helping special needs athletes compete in mainstream races. I Like You Like This and I Love You Like That is her first duology for young adults.
Her essays have appeared in Kids’ BookBuzz and Germ Magazine. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three sons.
Meet I Love You Like That!
Perfect for fans of If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout, What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum, and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, I Love You Like That is the second book in a poignant young adult duology about addiction, sexuality, peer pressure, and first love.
Reeling from the recent "death" of Deacon, her dark and mysterious former boyfriend and first love, sixteen-year-old Hannah Zandana lets herself fall into the arms of the wrong boys―even as her mother’s growing addiction continues to pull her family apart. With her mother hardly functional and her father in full-blown denial, Hannah and her little sister are left to their own devices―and no adult support―in their lives.
After waking up in a strange hospital outside of town, meanwhile, Deacon learns that his convenient “death” has placed him in the middle of a federal undercover sting operation. He’s soon thrown into the dangerous world of Miami drug cartels.
Will a cruel deception and a family’s unresolved grief forever change Deacon and Hannah, or can a love that once was, reignite and lead them back to one another?
~ Author Chat ~
***THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS***
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I needed to continue the journey of Hannah and Deacon separately in order for both of them to learn a few things along the way before the universe brings them back together. I often felt like I was writing two books simultaneously. Rereading it now, I still experience a sense of relief when they finally wind up in the same state. Like most things in life and relationships, things are still messy between them.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
That’s a tough one. I love Hannah and Deacon for different reasons. Outwardly, Hannah appears as the misfit who I can most associate with having shared some of the same feelings growing up. And Deacon the handsome, popular boy from the wealthy, prominent family is a character I understand as well. A surprise for me was how Toby’s character grows into himself by the end of book two. I’d hang out with him now.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. The title plays off book one’s title of the duology: I Like You Like This, which is a line in the book when Deacon sees Hannah without makeup for the first time. For so long, makeup had become her mask because of her acne and he lifts that weight. In book two, Deacon says to her, I love you like that, Hannah. It’s the first time he ever uses the L word. So, I guess Deacon’s moments of realization inspire both titles in the duology.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Deacon’s humbling scene when he reveals to Hannah what happened to him during his childhood. It’s not a pretty story and it’s a huge moment for his character to come clean for the first time to her.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I used to worry about what my family and friends were going to think after reading the books. Would they judge me or see me differently? The duology deals with some very serious subject matter and social issues that are still happening today. My fears were immediately put to rest by the amazing amount of support I received.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
It took a few tries to find the right couple for the cover. I had a vision of Deacon that I couldn’t shake. I think my publisher’s creative team did a great job. I like the final product, especially the unspoken look on their faces. It’s straight out of the final scene in the duology.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
I’m dying to read Angie Thomas’s new one, On the Come Up, Julie Buxbaum’s Hope and Other Punchlines, and The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo. I’m also curious about Shout, the memoir from Laurie Halse Anderson.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
There were a few! Leah on the OffBeat (Becky Albertalli), The Cheerleaders (Kara Thomas), My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Ottessa Moshfegh), and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) was also amazing.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m working on my third novel, a YA love story set in present-day NYC. Stay tuned!
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
I’ve said this before and it still rings true for me and the young writers I meet. Forget about being unique or original with your writing. Just be genuine.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The scene where Hannah finally calls her mother out on her relapse and what it’s doing to their family. There’s a moment where Hannah wants to console her mom by touching her but she’s afraid of getting rejected. That was all too real for me.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Hannah’s mother. I didn’t grow up around addiction and I really wanted to be accurate in my portrayal. I gathered a lot of research, watched YouTube videos of addicts, and interviewed friends who grew up around substance abuse.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I love it all. For me, the first draft is the hardest, however it’s also the most carefree and adventurous part of the process. I try to focus on playing rather than getting the words right.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Intuitiveness and a headful of hair, lots of it.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I race with Athletes Serving Athletes, a non-profit organization that helps special needs athletes compete in mainstream road races. Helping them with their mission along with the friends I’ve made have been a life changer.
~ Excerpt ~
(six months after that night)
A SIREN PIERCED THROUGH HANNAH’S BRAIN, CATAPULTING her straight up in bed. Her cheeks were wet. No, no, I want to go back. The jarring noise came from outside her window then stopped. She pulled on both sides of her scalp and squinted at the shadows sitting around her room. She jumped when the noise cut through the air again, vibrating from the floor. Shoot. She fumbled for the phone. She reeled it up by its cord and grabbed the receiver.
“H-hello?” she croaked, clearing her throat at the same time.
A shiver slid down her back into her damp sheets. This one felt more real than the others. His phantom scent of spicy vanilla and leather hung in the air. Her head whipped around. Wait, he was just here.
In her dream she’d bolted out the front of her house when she saw Deacon’s car from her bedroom window, not giving a flip if she got caught.
Standing before her, he’d gently moved her hair off her eyes. His deepening gaze had summoned her heart to crack open . . . for him and only him.
He’d tugged her shoulders toward him. “You look incredible. God, let me kiss you.”
She’d almost forgotten the sweeping angles of his face, how beautiful he was, dressed in his clothes from that night, the bloodstain from where the bullet entered his shoulder somehow gone.
She’d searched those soft chocolate brown eyes of his, the ones that spoke more to her than his words ever had. She’d known what she wanted, what she’d always wanted. “Will you stay this time?”
He’d swooped down as if to kiss her, stopping inches from her lips, and whispered, “Forever, Hannah.”
Then he was gone.
She cut off her breath, straining to hear anything at all as she pressed the receiver tighter to her ear.
“Hello . . . ? Peter?”
A sharp click, and the phone went dead.
It was always the same. Stupid kids, she thought. She changed her clammy tank top and dove back into bed with her eyes still closed.
December 21, 1984
“IS HE GOING TO BE OKAY?” JADE ASKED, WISHING SHE were still high, her body already jonesing for another hit.
“The bullet went through the right side of your brother’s chest and out the back of his shoulder. Luckily, though, it didn’t pierce any vital organs. It appears he hit the back of his head pretty hard and bit his tongue . . . see here?” explained the bobble-headed guy with the pencil neck and oversized white coat who kept pulling Deacon’s mouth open for her to see. Deacon didn’t wake—he didn’t even flinch.
It hadn’t been hard to convince this alarmingly young doctor, who seemed incapable of knowing much about medicine aside from maybe having earned a merit badge in first aid, that she was family and not Deacon’s drug-dealing associate.
Jade rolled her eyes, watching how he held the clipboard annoyingly close to his shiny face, squinting over the information as he spoke. If it weren’t for the smell of antiseptic keeping her awake, she’d have blown out of here hours ago. Just tell me when he can get out of here.
“From the trauma to the head and chest, his body went into shock and lapsed into a coma. Was he coherent for long after he got shot?”
“No idea, I wasn’t there when it happened . . . two others were, in addition to his, I mean, our half-brother . . . th-the shooter. I heard that his girlfriend applied pressure to his chest, trying to stop the bleeding. Then he passed out. I got there when those two cops were loading him into the back of their car. I followed them here.”
The young doctor swiveled his head to either side while poking the bottom of Deacon’s feet with one of his shiny instruments. “He’s not responding to any of my tests. It may be a few days before he comes out of it. Well, best case, that is. Then we’ll know if any oxygen was cut off to the brain.”
“Geez. So he may be a vegetable?”
“Hmm,” he answered, jotting something down on Deacon’s chart.
“Doc, do you know why those cops put him in that body bag? He’s clearly alive.”
“Giroux . . . Giroux?” a woman’s voice bellowed from down the corridor.
“Fifth door on the left,” someone called out from the nurses’ station.
Jade shrank back into the room and away from the lights streaming over Deacon’s bed. Shit, shit. She shouldn’t be here. Her chance to escape vanished at the appearance of a woman’s shapely silhouette in the doorway, her hands resting elegantly on either side of the frame. Babette Giroux sauntered in wearing a red fitted suit and gobs of pearls circling her neck, her head held high like a lioness. The young doctor’s jaw scraped the floor.
Babette took a couple of small steps toward her son, her brow hardening in a severe line as she fiddled with her wedding ring like it was a rosary, her lips mouthing something no one could hear.
“Is he . . . ?”
“Lucky . . . yes, very lucky,” the young doctor beamed as if he’d singlehandedly saved Deacon from having the bedsheet pulled over his head.
“Oh . . .” Babette replied, the corners of her mouth dipping slightly.
Jade had seen his mother before, but never this intimately. Her eyes began watering from her heavy Giorgio perfume. She knew some stories about Babette Giroux, but was unprepared for the prickly sensation running through the center of her back from being in the woman’s presence.
Babette smiled sweetly. “Doctor . . . ?”
He quickly cleared his throat and plastered on a horsey smile that Jade hadn’t seen until then. “Klondike, Dr. Adam Klondike, madame.”
“Doctor . . . Adam, I’d appreciate if you let me tell his father about our son’s medical state. He’s not in town at the moment. And there’s already some reporter skulking around outside. We need to keep this incident quiet, if we can, so the family can have some privacy before the tabloids get ahold of this . . . you understand, don’t you?”
Babette leaned over the bed, pushing her breasts forward in her suit jacket, her bejeweled, red-manicured fingers forming pop tents next to Deacon’s body. Her violet eyes lured in the young doctor while her backside wiggled ever so slightly, as if she were purring.
“O-of course,” he stammered, his face blooming pink blotches while the rest of him jittered like a pubescent sixth grader. He was clearly enjoying the show.
“Thank you, Adam,” Babette said tenderly, straightening herself up, her boobs leading the way. She kept her gaze on the doctor’s widening eyes and her back arched as she skimmed her hands along her hips, ensuring nothing was missed.
Wow. Jade tried to stifle a cough from the post-nasal drip she was experiencing, which was now part coke, part Babette’s perfume.
“Now . . . Adam, can you give me a moment with my son?”
“Of course,” the doctor replied, his lips gleaming with saliva. He bowed his head awkwardly, sending his glasses down his nose, before ducking out the door.
Jade backed away to exit behind the doctor. She sensed a plan percolating inside the older woman’s head and wished Deacon would wake up already. She’d have to come back later—maybe then, she hoped, he’d be talking.
“Young lady?” Babette’s voice lost its sugarcoating and sounded more like a car’s tires on gravel.
Jade froze. She reluctantly faced her, folding her arms tight across her chest, her shoulders up around her ears. She hadn’t realized how chilled she was until now.
“You’re not to speak of this. As far as you know, he’s dead . . . can you remember that?”
Jade’s eyes fell to the ground.
“Do you understand English? He’s dead.”
“B-but . . .”
“I’ll take this pillow and smother him right here,” Babette snarled, exposing her side canine and twisting the bed pillow in front of her.
Jade flinched. “G-g-got it . . . he’s dead. Totally.” Oh my god, oh my god.
“Now leave us.”
As she backed away, Jade’s foot caught a chair leg near the corner of the room, sending her stumbling toward the door. Ignoring the screams inside her head, she looked back. Seconds strung together, holding her afloat, as she took in the sight of his mother still gripping the pillow. Finally, she fled.
I Love You Like That
By: Heather Cumiskey
Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Publisher: She Writes Press
Five winners will each receive a copy of both I Like You Like This & I Love You Like That (Heather Cumiskey) ~ (US Only)
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