Today we're excited to chat with Katy Upperman, author of Kissing Max Holden.
Read on for more about Katy and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Katy Upperman!
Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate-chip cookies, or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. Kissing Max Holden is her debut novel.
Meet Kissing Max Holden!
After his father’s stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows she shouldn't let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they're caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it'll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.
With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school suddenly up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart, and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Katy Upperman’s debut novel Kissing Max Holden skillfully navigates the tenuous territory of bad influences, good friends, and complicated families.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The longtime-friends-to-sweethearts trope was my initial inspiration for writing Kissing Max Holden. I love reading about those sorts of relationships, and I wanted to try my hand at writing one. I also found inspiration in music, specifically a bunch of early Taylor Swift songs. And once I decided that my main character Jillian (or Jilly, as Max calls her) was going to be a baker girl, I started researching – or, baking all the time. So, I found a lot of inspiration in the kitchen, too.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Jilly. Because I’ve spent years and years in her head, we’ve become very close. I love her because she’s got a huge heart and is always looking for ways to be there for her friends and family, but she’s not a pushover. She’s got a definite breaking point when it comes to how much nonsense she’ll put up with, and she’s not afraid to air her feelings, especially where Max is concerned. She’s also flawed; she has moments of indecision and selfishness that I think ring true, especially when it comes to seventeen-year-olds.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. Kissing Max Holden used to be called All Mixed Up (baking reference!) and before that it was called Cross My Heart, but eventually I decided that it was most important to hint at the story’s romance, and at the catalyst for so many of Jilly’s challenges.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I’m not the exception. My first manuscript was a contemporary young adult, 130,000 word monstrosity, rich with melodrama, but thin on plot. I knew it was way too long, and I knew it had serious weaknesses, but I queried that beast anyway, thinking, If agents just read it… But they didn’t read it, because my query letter was a mess and my word count was astronomical, and even if they had read it, I would’ve earned quick rejections. I wasn’t ready; I hadn’t done the work. Worse – I thought I could somehow sidestep the rules. I’m embarrassed about putting that manuscript out there now, but the experience taught me a lot about the industry and the importance of research.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love everything about the cover of Kissing Max Holden -- the black-and-white photograph, the obvious chemistry of the couple, and the ombré purples and pinks of the title. Mostly, though, I love that readers were responsible for choosing the cover’s direction on the Swoon Reads blog. It’s so cool to know that they played a part in the process.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2018?
So many! A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, American Panda Gloria Chao, Everywhere You Want To Be by Christina June, I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter, The Game Can’t Love You Back by Karole Cozzo, Contagion by Erin Bowman, Surviving Adam Meade by Shannon Klare, The Beauty That Remains by Ashely Woodfolk, As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti, Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington, and In Her Skin by Kim Savage come immediately to mind.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
My sophomore novel is called The Impossibility of Us. It’s a young adult romance about Elise, an aspiring photojournalist, and Mati, an Afghan poet. They meet by chance on a California beach and, as their friendship blossoms into more, find themselves struggling to keep their relationship secret from their disapproving families. I think of it as a fairy tale set in the real world, plus it features bits of verse, a really cute dog, and, of course, cookies. It’ll be out summer, 2018.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Revising, easy. I find blank pages intimidating, and while I know a lot of writers are inspired by the wide-open possibility of a first draft, I… am not. I’d much rather polish what’s already written. For me, revisions are where a story comes to life.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Worrying, probably. I’m a champion, particularly when what I’m worrying about is completely out of my control. It’s a gift. :-)
Kissing Max Holden
By: Katy Upperman
Release Date: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
One winner will receive a copy of Kissing Max Holden ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*