Author Chat with Rebekah Crane, Plus First Chapter Reveal & Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Rebekah Crane, author
of The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland!
Below you'll find more about Rebekah,
her book, plus a first chapter reveal, and giveaway!
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
REBEKAH CRANE: I wanted to write a summer camp novel. It’s such a lush setting. But I wanted to write a fresh story with a different perspective. At the time, I was reading a non-fiction, short story book written by a psychoanalyst. The individual stories are about patients he treated in the past. All I kept thinking was—no one is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. It’s a façade. And what if all these patients went to a summer camp together in their teen years? What would that look like? I threw the idea around with a few friends and the next thing I knew, I was writing a new book.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
REBEKAH CRANE: Cassie—for sure. She’s strong, confrontational, funny, and honest. She’s her own worst enemy and her own savior. Writing her was a pleasure and a pain.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
REBEKAH CRANE: The novel. We threw around a lot of titles for this book. In the end, my editor’s daughter, Coco, suggested the one we went with. She’s one smart teenager.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
REBEKAH CRANE: Crafting the dialogue in this book was one of the best writing experiences I’ve had to date. I just loved it. If I had to pick one scene, I’d pick the first time we meet Grover. His interaction with Zander and Cassie still makes me laugh.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
REBEKAH CRANE: Surround yourself with a supportive team. In a business that’s tough at times, share the experience with people you trust and enjoy. It makes your writing life so much better. And be bold. Find the heart in every project and begin there.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
REBEKAH CRANE: The purple hue and stars next to the pine trees. It really does look like a Michigan twilight.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2015?
REBEKAH CRANE: An Ember in the Ashes. Oh my, that book. I couldn’t put it down.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
REBEKAH CRANE: There is a certain pain and pleasure that comes with both. Usually when I revise, I’m a bit manic, so I’d have to go with drafting. I love character interaction and seeing what they’ll say. It always surprises me the first time.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
REBEKAH CRANE: Public schools. I was a teacher in New York City, Boston, and Columbus, OH—all at overcrowded, underfunded city schools. I taught some of the most amazing students who deserved more out of their education. We didn’t have enough books or supplies—let alone enough money to bring an author in for the day. Since I’m no longer teaching, I now visit local schools in the Denver area and have worked with Teach for America doing author presentations at similar underfunded schools. It is a true pleasure.
Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.
Meet The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland!
According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.
Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.
But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.
Mom and Dad,
They told me I had to write this. Camp is
fine. I’ll see you soon. Z
PS—I’m fine, too . . . no matter what you think.
The doorknob locks with a single key from the inside of the cabin. My bag hangs over my shoulder as I stare at the silver knob like it might start talking. This can’t be legal.
“We only lock the doors at night for precautionary reasons. And I sleep in the cabin with you,” Madison says, tugging on the key dangling from her neck. She touches my arm. I glance down at her finely painted fingernailspressingintomyskin.Themagentapolishhasaglossylayer of perfection.
“What is there to be cautious about?” I ask.
Madison doesn’t answer me right away. She gives me one of those half smiles and cocks her head to the side, like she’s thinking about what to say next. She picks up her long brown braided hair and inspects the end of it.
“It keeps the bears out.” She pulls a split end
free. “I didn’t think there were bears here.”
“The woods around here are filled with a lot of things people
don’t want to admit exist. But don’t worry. That’s what I’m here for.” She touches my arm again.
Madison is dressed in a hunter-green T-shirt with thecamp’s logo across the front and black cargo shorts. Her bright nail polish contrasts with her outdoorsy outfit. It doesn’t match.
“I remember my first time at camp. I was so nervous,” Madison says. “Did you go here?”
“No . . .” Madison trails off. She fiddles with her shirt,
smoothing down the front of it. “It was a horse camp in California.” Madison looks like a girl who grew up wealthy enough to ride horses and wear pink polo shirts and white shorts with whales on them.
It would match her nail polish perfectly.
“I’m not nervous,” I say.
“That’s good.” Madison smiles. “Well, get yourself
situated and we’ll meet in the Circle of Hope in a half hour.”
“The Circle of Hope. Why there?” I ask.
“If we don’t have hope, Zander, we don’t have anything. It’s the
best place to start.” She touches my arm and smiles one more time before walking away, her braid swishing across her back.
“That’s not an answer,” I mumble as a mosquito buzzes in my face. I swat it away, but it’s back within seconds. A door that locks and unlocks from the inside by a single key has to be a fire hazard. I’m right. This is totally illegal. Maybe I could report this place and get it shut down, but then I’d have to go home.
I drop my bag on the ground. It makes a dull thud on the cement floor. Other than the cold concrete beneath my feet, everything in the room is wood—the beds, the walls, the dressers. I sit down on the bare mattress of one of the beds and run my hands through my hair, pulling
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
a little too hard. A few black strands pop loose. I can’t seem to break the habit though it makes my thin hair even thinner and more lightweight.
“Crap,” I murmur to myself.
The door flies open, smacking against the wood wall with a bang. A girl dressed in the smallest white tank top and shortest red shorts
I’ve ever seen stands in the doorway.
“Talking to yourself isn’t a good sign,” she says, circling her
index finger next to her temple.
She flings her bag onto the bed. I stare at her. I can’t help it.
She’s not wearing a bra. What girl doesn’t wear a bra under a thin white tank top? Her dark brown skin shows through the shirt. All her skin. Even her nipples.
“What?” she barks at me.
She’s skinny, too, like the kind of skinny that gets you hospitalized.
Gaunt might be a better term. She is practically hollow.
She plops down on the bed, crossing her long legs.
“I’m Cassie,” she states but doesn’t hold out her hand. “I
know. It’s a fat girl’s name.” Before I can get my name out, Cassie proceeds to dump the contents of her duffel bag out on the bed. I scan the pile of clothes looking for a bra of any kind, but all I see is a hot- pink bikini, short shorts, and tank tops in multiple colors. Cassie takes an armful of clothes and says, “I take it you met Madison.” She stuffs them into a drawer without folding or separating the items. She just shoves all the chaos into one space. “She’s a f***ing moron.”
As she talks, Cassie grabs her empty bag and turns it upside down. A waterfall of pill containers splatters onto the bed.
“Like I said, these counselors are idiots. They don’t even check the pockets.” She pops the top on a bottle. “Don’t stare. It’s rude,” she says.
“Sorry.” I look down at my hands.
“I’m kidding. Everyone stares, especially here.” Cassie holds out a handful of pills to me, an offering. “Diet pills. You want some?”
I shake my head. “I hate pills.” 7
“Suit yourself, but I’d stay away from the macaroni in the mess hall.” Cassie puffs out her cheeks and points at me. I can’t help but look down at my body. No one would ever call me skinny, but I’m not fat. My mom would never allow that.
I tug at my yellow T-shirt so it’s not so tight. “Noted.”
She tosses the pills into her mouth and swallows them without water. “So why are you here?” she asks.
“Is it because you’re deaf?” Cassie makes a fake frown face and enunciates every word, speaking louder. “Why are you here?”
“I’m not deaf.”
“No shit, moron. That’s a different kind of camp.”
I play with the front of my T-shirt, picking a mosquito off it. Why
am I here? Looking at the girl in front of me, we’re nowhere near the same. I don’t belong lumped in a group with her. I squish the mosquito hard between my fingers and say, “I’m here because my parents signed me up.”
Cassie laughs so loud it echoes in the bare cabin. The noise rattles me. “So you’re one of those.”
“One of those?”
“A fucking moron and a liar.”
I sit up straighter. Did a girl who eats diet pills for breakfast and
refuses to wear a bra just call me a liar?
“Uh-oh, did I make you mad?” Cassie mocks.
“No,” I say.
“Well, I can’t help it. I’m a manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic
disas- ter. Self-diagnosed. And some days I think I’m a boy living in a girl’s body.” She stands up. “But at least I’m honest about who I am. Just remember, people who are really crazy don’t know they’re crazy.”
She stuffs the pills back into the hidden pocket of her duffel bag and shoves the bag under the bed. Before she leaves, she glances down at my luggage to the name written on the outside. “Zander? That’s your
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
name?” She shakes her head. “Yep. Definitely crazy. Have fun talking to yourself, Zander.”
Cassie disappears out the door. For a moment, I consider telling Madison about her pharmacy of pills hidden in her bag, but something tells me that getting on Cassie’s bad side for the next five weeks isn’t a goodidea.
I take a breath of the heavy air and stare up at the wooden ceiling. One match would light this place on fire if it could get past the humid- ity. But burning down a cabin would send me home and prove that Cassie is right—that I am crazy.
And I can’t be crazy. It would make my parents too happy. And as far as going home, I don’t want to be in my house. Not with how it is now.
My parents didn’t even ask if I wanted to come here. We sat down to dinner a few months ago and it was announced. I swirled my spa- ghetti around my fork as my parents talked about me like I wasn’t even in the room. To be fair, I had a huge French test the next day, and I was conjugating verbs in the passé composé tense in my head.
mangé Il a
avez mangé Ils
“This is exactly why she needs to go,” my mom complained, still
talking about me like I wasn’t in the room.
The conjugating is a habit now. My grade at the end of the year
was practically an A+.
“When you get back, all of this will be a memory. You’ll be a
dif- ferent person,” my mom said the night before I left, as my boyfriend and I sat around a bowl of organic vegetables and dip. I’ve been dating Coop for two years. His real name is Cooper. I’ve never 7
told him, but I
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
think both options are pretty terrible. Coop sounds like a date-raping football player who crushes beers on his head. And calling him Cooper sounds like I’m hollering for a dog.
I snapped a carrot in my mouth and nodded at my mom. The crunching sound was so loud in my ears it blocked out what everyone was saying.
When I’d eaten the entire bowl, I pulled Coop up to my room and we made out. It was the high point of the evening. And Coop isn’t that great of a kisser. He’s kind of slobbery, like a dog named Cooper.
When I got bored, I conjugated verbs. Kissing and conjugating go well together. They’re both French.
No. Going home isn’t an option, so I pick a dresser to unload my clothes, separating them into shirts, pants, and underthings including the pile of bras my mom packed. She set my bag at the foot of my bed the day I left and said, “There. All done.”
In French, fini.
She should have used those words years ago, but my mom isn’t one for letting go of things.
I take the bottom bunk, thinking it will be easier to get out of this place if it lights on fire and if I can get past the locked door. When I pull the sheets and quilt my mom has packed for bedding from my bag, my whole body sags. The tiredness is back, like gravity just doubled and my knees want to give out, but I force myself to make the bed, sure to do hospital corners like my mom taught me.
When I’m done, I stare at my neat work. A mosquito buzzes in my ear and I smack my hands together trying to kill it, but I miss. It’s back within seconds.
“Damn it.” I shake my head clear. But my bed sits there staring back at me. It’s as if there are a pair of eyes and a body and lungs just under the sheets, trying so hard to breathe. Trying hard but failing. Because, in the end, we all fail. We all sink to the bottom, no matter how many times someone tries to pull us back to the surface.
When I can’t stand looking at my finely made bed any longer, I mess it all up. I tear out the hospital corners and stuff the thin pastel flower quilt back in my bag, not caring if it’s folded properly, just that it’s out of sight. I sit down on the bed, out of breath, my chest heaving hard.
I’d rather freeze every night than sleep with that stuff.
“Fini,” I say. Shit. Talking to myself again. I look around, making sure no one saw me. But I’m alone. My family is across the country in Arizona and I’m in the middle of Michigan. I try hard to be sad about that fact, but it’s as if I’m grabbing for something that isn’t there. All I get is a handful of nothing. I’m just empty.
I walk out of the cabin into the swamp-like hot day, unsure of what to do next. But one thing is clear. I’d better stop talking to myself or people here will get the wrong idea.
The Odds of Loving Giver Cleveland
By: Rebekah Crane
Release Date: December 1, 2016
The synopsis makes me wonder about my own teen daughter......and reminds me what it was like to be a teen at summer camp. Love the cute cover.
The cover is awesome, so unique! Sounds like a story where I'll fall in love with so many characters. Thanks for the chance!