I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of FAULT LINE this spring and I knew that this was a book that I wanted to talk about…a lot. Christa Desir was kind enough to answer my questions and today I am sharing those answers with you. I am also giving away two copies of this amazing book. First, here is a little bit about FAULT LINE.
Author: Christa Desir
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 10-1-13
Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want. But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone. Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame? Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves. – Goodreads
Most of the books I have read that involve sexual assault are told from the point of view of the victim. What made you want to write a book from the perspective of the boyfriend of a rape victim?
Well, two things, actually. First, this book was conceived in a survivor testimonial writing workshop. It came out of an exercise where the instructor asked us to write a scene from the POV of a different gender or sexual orientation than our own. And the scene that I wrote got me to thinking about the impact of sexual assault on boyfriends, partners, spouses, etc. The second thing is that I’m generally pro-dude. Guys have proven to be some of the fiercest allies in my life, and I saw that over and over again with survivors in ERs. And I felt like the cannon of YA rape books didn’t really have a book from the POV of a guy who wasn’t responsible for what happened. Guys are usually the villains/perps in rape books and I really wanted guys to have a book where they could identify with someone who was trying to get through the shit spiral of sexual assault right along side the survivor.
The book begins with a very provocative scene and then flashes back. Did you always envision it that way or was that something that developed after revisions?
I did always envision it that way. But there was a reason. I wrote the book for teens, particularly for teens who don’t love to read. And honestly, I want guys to read this book, and I was worried if I started with the love story, they’d give up on me. I wanted to engage readers so that they had to turn the page to find out how this couple got to this horrifying place.
Your bio said that you edit romances (blogger’s note: That is AWESOME). While you were writing this book, did you find it hard to switch gears from editing what was presumably a more idealized version of love to writing a very raw and emotional story about teens navigating the after effects of assault?
Well, actually, I wrote this particular book before I was a romance editor. I love romances, but I’m not sure I could ever write one (although I’m trying really hard to write a girl-girl romance that has broken characters but a sweet love story). For me the YA genre fits my gritty and sort of harsh style. I just don’t have a schema for happy endings in the teen world because my own teen life was tricky and filled with a lot of not happy endings. It is easy for me to turn off editor brain for writer brain because I divide my days like that. I write from 5-7:30am. Then I edit during the day and read at night. The benefit of being an editor as my day job means that I understand deadlines and quick turn arounds and I have a generally realistic idea for how book selling works and the steps in the process. Plus, when I am deep in my head with raw and very sad things, it is actually nice to shut that off and fall into a beautiful love story. I have worked in the rape crisis movement for years, in one capacity or another, and I would say that working as a romance editor has been the best thing I could have ever imagined in terms of helping ease the amount of vicarious trauma and heartache that I experience. Who knew?
The adult characters in this book varied from helpful to predatory, but the teens were largely dealing with everything themselves. Why was it important to the story to have the adult involvement structured that way?
Frankly, in my life, in my history, that’s how things were. My parents would say they were of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” school of parenting where as long as I showed up for dinner and got decent grades, we were good. And I was pretty fiercely independent as a kid anyway, because my parents had their own shit that they were dealing with so they really didn’t need the complications of mine. I think there are adults in teen lives who want to be helpful, and sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t. And that’s very human. And I also think there are people in the world who prey on vulnerability, and that’s very real too. I like complicated human interactions, where people are deeply flawed and they say and do the wrong thing all the time…because that’s how it is. No one has the answer to everything. That’s why I wrote the counselor as I did. I was an advocate, I believe in advocates, I think their presence is something that every survivor should be offered in an ER, but at the same time, I wanted Ben to call her out on her weird “advocate way of speaking”, I wanted Ben to call her out on only being a volunteer and maybe not be qualified to help him or Ani. Because my editor and I both agreed that while he needed someone to talk to (if for no other reason than that it was the only thing that kept him from bailing on Ani), this woman couldn’t be didactic without me acknowledging how ragingly unhelpful that sometimes is, particularly to teen boys.
What are you working on now?
Well, I sold my second book, BLEED LIKE ME, to Simon Pulse (Fall 2014) which I’ll be editing in the next few months. And I have a book I’ve rewritten too many times to count that I keep picking at. And I have a girl-girl romance to try to finish. And I have a difficult book that is very raw and dark and has problems that I don’t know what to do about. And I have a psychopathological YA horror that has problems that I don’t know what to do about. So mostly, I’m working on lots of things and deciding which one I have the most heart for. And then waiting to figure out how to solve all the problems.
I’m Christa Desir and I write young adult novels. I am an avid reader and have been in love with YA books ever since reading Judy Blume’s FOREVER (while hiding between the stacks in the library). My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me. I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I’m not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. (This job rules.) I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life moments.
Thank you so much, Christa!
I am giving away two copies of this amazing book. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is open internationally.